How Greece overthrew Turkish rule: National pride an important factor

Less than a month ago, EAM Jaishankar visited Greece to bolster Indo-Greek ties. Greece is one country that stands out for being able to completely overthrow Islamic occupation and conquest, and at the same time also erase all traces of its existence. Greece was taken over by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. It gained independence from Ottoman rule after the Greek Revolution or Greek War of Independence fought in the early 19th century.

A patriotic movement called the ‘friendly brotherhood’ or ‘Philiki Etaireia’ was initiated in 1814, in the city of Odessa which is now in Ukraine. At the same time, the Greek Orthodox Church had created a sense of Greek nationalism called ‘Hellenism’ which was achieved through keeping the Greek language alive. Many Greeks who went to other parts of Europe for higher studies were also influenced by concepts like the French Enlightenment which further fostered their desire for gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire.

The Greek revolt began in February 1821 when Alexander Ypsilantis crossed into Turkish held Modavia with a few troops. Even though he was defeated, by March, sporadic revolts against the Turks had begun in Peloponnese, Corinth, and other places. By January 1822, the rebels declared independence of Greece. Turks tried thrice to regain the area between 1822 and 1824 but failed.

Meanwhile, in 1823, a civil war broke out between followers of guerrilla leader Theodorus Kolkotronis and Geórgios Kountouriótis who was the head of the government that had been formed in January 1822. A second civil war in 1824 helped to establish Kountouriótis as the leader but the Turks had by then sought help from Egypt. The Egyptian forces arrived in 1825 and helped the Turks invade Peloponnese and capture Missolonghi in April 1826, Athens in August 1826, and Acropolis in 1827.

With Greece losing ground, European powers entered the scene and offered to mediate between the Turks and Greeks whereby an autonomous Greek state could be formed, but the Turks refused the offer. As a result, in October 1827, Russia, France, and Great Britain sent their naval fleets to Navarion and destroyed the Egyptian fleet. This weakened the Ottoman side, but the war continued. Additionally a Russo-Turkish war was also fought between 1828 and 1829.

Finally, a settlement was determined with the help of European powers and under a London protocol, Greece was declared to be an autonomous monarchical state in February 1830. By 1832, the Turkish Sultan too recognized Greece’s independence.

A US-based Turkish group claims that there was more to the so-called Greek war of independence than the above-mentioned events, and during the period of Greek revolt between 1821 and 1822, mass genocide of Muslims was carried out by the Greek nationalists who responded to the call for a revolution by their Archbishop Germanos: “Peace to the Christians! Respect to the Consuls! Death to the Turks!

The expansion of its territory by Greece following its war of independence came at the cost of mass genocide of the Muslims according to these claims. Thus, of the 35,000 Muslims residing in Peloponnese in March 1821, at least 20,000 had been massacred by Easter of 1821. British historian William St. Clair describing the event, said: “All over the Peloponnese roamed mobs of Greeks armed with clubs, scythes, and a few firearms, killing, plundering and burning. They were often led by Christian priests, who exhorted them to greater efforts in their holy work.”

In August 1821, in the small town of Monemvasia, the Muslim residents decided to surrender but were yet barbarically slaughtered. ‘Between 2,000 and 3,000 Muslim residents were cruelly massacred.

Similarly, in Tripolitsa town where the Turkish governor lived, there were around 35,000 Turks, Jews, and Armenians. Around 10,000 of these were killed in October 1821. Writing about this, historian William Phillips says, “In Tripolitsa for three days the miserable [Turkish] inhabitants were given over to the lust and cruelty of a mob of savages. Neither sex nor age was spared. Women and children were tortured before being put to death.”

In January 1822, 1500 Turks at Acrocorinth agreed to surrender but before their ships could arrive, rebels under the leadership of Theodorus Kolkotronis had killed them. By the summer of 1822, 50,000 Turks had thus been massacred. Again in June 1822, around 400 Muslims planning to surrender were killed at Athens. A similar massacre took place in Nauplia in December 1822 in which a British ship managed to save Muslims and Jews but around 150 Albanians returning to their country on a Turkish ship were killed.

Greece today is inhabited mostly by Orthodox Christians (nearly 98%) while Muslims form just 1.4% of the population. Greece orthodoxy is the state religion in the country. Since Greece is a Christian nation that received help from other European (Christian) countries in overthrowing the Turkish occupation, the above-mentioned genocide claims have not received much traction and Greece has remained off the radar of the international human-rights industry.

Contrast this with the situation of Hindu Bharat which faced the Mughal invasion followed by British colonization. The departure of the colonialists happened only with a deadly religion-based partition in which at least 4.75 million Hindus are estimated to have been killed. After the partition, rather than drawing lessons from nations like Greece, Bharat was misled by some of its erstwhile leaders, into becoming a ‘secular’ country rather than a Hindu Rashtra that should have been created after carrying out complete population exchange. The result of such constant offering of the other cheek is for all to see.

The contrast between the approach used by the two countries, Greece and Bharat is well summed up in this tweet:

Like Greece’s Hellenism, Hindu nationalism could and should have been nurtured, but even in this regard, post-independence Bharat has chosen a self-destructive path by allowing break-India entities like Marxists to create ‘secularized’ and distorted versions of history that generations of Hindus are being taught in schools. School history texts ensure that the heroism and courage of our historical Hindu leaders who stood up for Dharma is undermined and sidelined while cruel invaders are deified and their cruel acts are whitewashed and sanitized. Instead of inspiring pride in Hindu Dharma, our history, and our past, our school history textbooks serve to do the opposite. Through distortions and falsehoods, these texts create generations of Hindus who harbour an inferiority complex about their faith and often become Hindu-haters with Stockholm syndrome towards Islamism and Colonial powers.

The rights of Hindus to administer their own temples have also been snatched else these could be used to demystify the Hindu Dharma and its past glory for common citizens. Nor are Hindus allowed to manage their own schools independently as only Hindu-run private schools have been mandatorily drawn in under the RTE and must take in 25% students who are unable to pay fees. Without the freedom to run schools and set a curriculum that would enhance the knowledge of Dharma among students, it is impossible to inculcate a spirit of Hindu nationalism among young citizens of the country.

Despite this bending over backwards to please break-India groups and vested interests, Bharat faces flak from the international fake liberal community that too for our non-existent ‘Hindutva’.

The lesson is clear for Bharat. Dharmic faiths like Hindu Dharma must stand up for themselves in their battles against both the Abrahamic faiths.  Many East Asian Buddhist countries like Thailand and Myanmar have done just that with varying degrees of success. No country can succeed without inculcating a feeling of national pride and a connectedness with its own history and past.

Featured Image Source: focusgreece.com


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Anuradha
Writer, Editor, Researcher