18 August 2004

Old habits hardly change

AZAD-HYE (18/8/2004): In the seventies of the last century, some Armenians of Aleppo (northern city of Syria) were wondering how the Turkish language was still surviving (and thriving) within the Armenian Community there, more than half a century after the Genocide. Thousands of Armenians used Turkish (besides their mother tongue) in their everyday communications and as language of entertainment.

This was before the age of the satellite television. Some Armenians used to explain that the reason behind the persistence of the Turkish language was the broadcasting of attractive TV programs from the neighboring Turkey. There was only one Syrian public TV channel at that time, few hours daily, without much vigour.

More than three decades later, now that Armenia has gained independence and there are at least two Armenian satellite channels accessible to the Armenians of Aleppo (and other cities in the Middle East), when there are literally hundreds of Arabic and Western news, entertainment, natural history, etc. channels, still a sizable part of the old and young Armenians in Aleppo (a city that comes fourth of fifth in Diasporan size) is clingingto the Turkish language and music, despite the efforts of the Armenian organizations to combat this phenomenon.

The correspondent of Zaman Turkish daily (issue of 15th August 2004), did not fail to notice the demand for Turkish music in the Armenian neighborhood of Aleppo. During his recent visit to Aleppo he smugly refers to a music store “that has been selling Turkish music to Aleppo’s Armenian Suleymaniye district since 1976”. He adds that “Turkish songs are quite the rage in Aleppo” and posters of Turkish singers such as Tarkan, Sibel Can, etc, cover music stores there.

Under the title “Armenians tune into Tarkan” (the famous Turkish singer), he refers to what the owner of the music store told him about an Armenian who has placed order for 23 Turkish albums, before visiting his daughter in the US. From his observations, he concludes that not only many Armenians of Aleppo are fascinated with the Turkish music, but also many Arab singers translate desirable Turkish songs into Arabic and prepare their own albums with Turkish sounds.

Few months ago I read in the local Armenian weekly of Aleppo (called Kantsasar) an article that hosted harsh criticism against the Armenian Public TV, pointing out its lenient stance towards moral issues, especially allowing some scenes of sexual content. Of course there was exaggeration in the comments, because what is shown on the screen of the Armenian Public TV is far less that what someone sees in any standard European TV station. The real criticism to that channel should go for its untrue depiction of the political and social life in Armenia (but this is another story).

Now let us ask the following questions: Instead of criticizing that channel, why aren’t we able to fund one TV channel in Armenia that would address the Diaspora with Western Armenian language and would deal with subjects that concern our large communities outside the homeland? But let us point out that, those who are immersed in Turkish pop music and substandard entertainment, will hardly be in position to pursue such noble goals.

No comments: