Congregationalist and Anglican Missionaries in Ottoman Hakkari and Tur Abdin
Haddad, Yvonne Y
Despite centuries of stable Christian-Muslim relations in Southeast Anatolia, the 1840s marked a wave of interreligious violence, culminating in the massacre of ten thousand Assyrian Christians in the region of Hakkari. These events, part of the Bedr Khan Rebellion which engulfed the greater region, were brought about by a number of factors. In the decade prior to these events, the Ottoman government had initiated a series of centralization reforms, bringing previously autonomous regions under direct government control. Additionally, beginning in the 1820s an influx of Protestant missionaries began working amongst Christians in the lands of the Ottoman Empire. This work explores the causes of this violence, focusing on the roles of Congregationalist, Anglican and Episcopal missionaries. First working in the Holy Land, this wave was led by American Congregationalist missionaries affiliated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Adopting a millenarian framework through which they engaged local Christian populations, these Congregationalist missionaries began to see the Syriac Orthodox and Assyrian Christians of Southeast Anatolia as key to converting the region's non-Muslims and bringing about the Second Coming. As a result of their misguided efforts, these missionaries would create anxiety amongst local Christian communities, and play a significant role in instigating Muslim-Christian conflict. In contrast, contemporary Anglican and Episcopal missions to the region operated through a framework more sensitive to local political realities. This work examines the history of these missions, the ideologies which drove them and their culpability for the violence of the 1840s. In doing so, this author seeks to establish Congregationalist missions' aggressive posture and millenarian worldview, along with Ottoman reform policy, as a primary cause of the breakdown of Muslim-Christian relations in this region. Through engaging directly with missionaries' own accounts, this work presents a framework for how Anglicans and Congregationalists engaged the Assyrian and Syriac Orthodox Christians of Hakkari and Tur Abdin. It provides a background of the region, then explores in depth the development of the Congregationalist, Anglican and Episcopal missions, focusing on the ideological frameworks within which they operated. It then explores the relationship between the various missions, and their actions during and after the massacres of the 1840s.
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