Pickthall is described as "a British author, expert on the Middle
East, former Chaplain to the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, and eminent British
expert on and later-convert to Islam," from one of the articles
below. It was the rare Westerner who could manage to rise above his or her
anti-Turkish/Muslim prejudice, and Marmaduke Pickthall was a remarkable man.
Today's bigots may dismiss him as saying, "Well, he converted to Islam,
and what can you expect," since to these folks all Muslims are mindless
fanatics. But people with larger brains will see Marmaduke Pickthall took the
trouble to scratch beneath the surface as a true intellectual, and his views
are based on nothing less than reason and the genuine facts. That is what
makes the articles of this thoroughly enlightened man so uncommon, and
1) Massacres and the Turks: The Other Side
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2) The Turkish Awakening (extract)
3) Challenge to an Armenian
and the Turks: The Other Side
"Turkish history has been more
systematically falsified by the simple method of suppressing half the truth, and
magnifying the other half."
(As published in Foreign Affairs, Special Supplement, July 1920, pp.
xiv-xvi. Thanks to Serdar for the transcription, and to M. Mersinoglu for the article.)
Massacres and the Turks: The Other Side
By MARMADUKE PICKTHALL
[We take no sides in this controversy, but, as the Turkish side is never stated, we are
glad to give to an Englishman who frankly sympathises with the Turks, and whose knowledge
is considerable, the chance of stating it. Moreover, It is of great importance at the
present critical moment that the Turkish view should be heard.-Ed. Foreign Affairs.]
It would astonish English people who regard
the Turks as cruel monsters to be told that in so thinking they are the dupes of a
traditional myth which can be traced back to the Byzantine Chroniclers who often dealt in
pure invention in the way of calumny, as Hammer in his classic work on Turkish history
demonstrated long ago. The myth was revived and furbished up in modern times in order to
commend to “Christian” minds the so-called “civilising mission” of the Russian
Tsars. The Turks have never even put their case before the world, which has been plied
assiduously with the allegations of their enemies. Their language — to say nothing of
their religion — has always been a bar to European understanding. And so a race which
has produced a literature worthy to be compared with that of Ancient Greece (in the
opinion of a modern Greek, no partial critic) has come to be regarded as uncultivated and
“incapable of civilisation”; a nation famed for tolerance, to be regarded as
fanatical. In our own time Turkish history has been more systematically falsified by the
simple method of suppressing half the truth, and magnifying the other half.
In 1821 the Greeks rebelled against the Turkish Government, and incidentally exterminated
all the Muslims in the Morea and many thousands in the northern part of Greece with
hideous cruelty. This massacre was followed by anti-Greek riots in Constantinople, and a
massacre of Greeks in the island of Chios, where a Turkish army was suppressing a
rebellion in the following year.
The Serbs had done precisely the same thing previously. Both these rebellions represented
years of work by Tsarist agents.
"There are persons and
amongst them, I grieve to say, Englishmen, who boast that they invented these (horror)
In 1876 the Bulgarians rebelled and were severely
punished. The cry of Turkish atrocities then raised by Mr. Gladstone has not yet
died away in England. But in the following year (1877) the British Ambassador at
Constantinople wrote in a letter to Lord Derby (the Foreign Secretary): “The
English people cannot, perhaps, yet bear to hear the truth of the events of last
year; but it its my duty to state it to your lordship. The marvelous ability shown
by Russia and her agents in misleading public opinion in England and elsewhere has
been amply rewarded. It will probably be long before that which is true can be
separated from that which is false; when history does so it will be too late. The
Porte has taken no effective means to place its case before Europe. It neither
employs the press nor competent agents for such purposes. Its appeals to the Powers,
and the State Papers that it issues to refute the charges against it, are so
prepared that they are more calculated to injure its cause. A great portion of the
English public are, probably, still under the impression that the statements upon
which the denunciations against Turkey were originally founded are true — the
60,000 Christians outraged and massacred; the cartloads of human heads; the crowd of
women burnt in a barn and other similar horrors. There are persons and amongst them,
I grieve to say, Englishmen, who boast that they invented these stories with the
object of “writing down” Turkey, for which they were impelled by a well-known
hand. People in England will scarcely believe that the most accurate and complete
inquiries into the events of last year in Bulgaria now reduce the number of deaths
to about 3,500 souls, including the Turks who were, in the first instance,
slain by the Christians. No impartial man can now deny that a rising of the
Christians which was intended by its authors to lead to a general massacre of the
Mohammedans was in contemplation, and that it was directed by Russian and Pan-Slavist
In 1912, during the first Balkan war, there was a systematic massacre of the Muslim
population, and some three hundred thousand destitute Muslims fled to Asiatic
The Turks have learnt from very harsh experience
that Christian risings always mean, for them, the menace of extermination, and that
they must look for their defence to their own arms since no Christian Power cares
what becomes of them.
And now we come to the Armenians. Seeing the success which Serbs and Greeks and
Bulgars had attained by dint of murder and sedition and the cry of Christianity,
some of the Armenians less than half a century ago resolved to use the same means to
create “Armenia.” Their task was harder, for there is no region of the earth in
which Armenians live as a compact majority. It was the activities of these Armenian
revolutionaries (including massacres of Muslims), which brought on the punishment of
1895-6, the severity of which, like everything that tells against the Turk, has been
enormously exaggerated. Of those activities some ten years afterwards, an English
traveller (the late Sir Mark Sykes) wrote:
“Anything more fiendish one could not imagine—the assassination of Muslims in
order to bring about the punishment of innocent men, the midnight extortion of money
from villages which have just paid taxes by day, the murder of persons who refuse to
contribute to the collection boxes, are only some of the crimes of which Muslims,
Catholics and Gregorians accuse them with no uncertain voice”
1 Ignatieff (?)
2 “240,000 killed in Western Thrace alone “ I was cheerfully informed at the
dinner table by a gentleman who professed to draw his information straight from the
Holdwater: "F.O." signifies the archived
documents of the British Foreign Office. Ignatieff
was a Russian general.
revolutionaries are the propagandists of “Armenia” in the West.
The Armenian Revolutionary Committees co-operated with the Turkish Committee of Union and
Progress in the revolution of July 1908, and one then hoped that these disorders would
cease. And so they might have done if Europe had supported the new Turkey. But within a
few weeks of the revolution Bulgaria threw off the suzerainty, Austria pounced on Bosnia
and Herzegovina; it became clear to the criminal element in the Christian “nationalities,”
which was accustomed to look to Europe for orders, that Turkey was still to be destroyed.
(I am now writing of the things which I have seen and know). In the early spring of 1909,
the arrogant and warlike attitude of the Armenian Revolutionaries in the vilayet of Adana
and a discovery of bombs, enraged the Muslim population and made them listen to the
preaching of reactionary agents, who failed in every other province of the empire to
provoke disorders. The result was a panic struggle ending in massacre.
It is important that English people should realise that the vast majority of the Armenian
race in Turkey feared and hated the Armenian revolutionaries whose aim was to bring on
foreign intervention; and that the Armenian revolutionaries are the propagandists of “Armenia”
in the West.
The murder of Mahmud Shevket Pasha (then Grand Vizier) in June 1913, was a heavy blow to
peaceable Armenians. One saw Armenians crying in the streets. One, who brought the news of
the assassination to the house where I was staying, seemed quite broken down. He kept
“It is the end for our unhappy race. There is no one now who can protect us from the
revolutionaries backed by Russia.”
Mahmud Shevket had collected overwhelming evidence of the criminal intrigues of Tsardom in
Eastern Anatolia -which it pretended to wish to pacify -and was going to hurl that
evidence at the Powers, when he was murdered.
Later in the same year England refused to provide inspectors for Eastern Anatolia at the
Turkish Government’s request based on the Cyprus Convention.
In September 1914 a Turkish National Assembly held at Erzeroum to consider the attitude of
Turkey towards the European war, asked the Armenian organisations for an expression of
solidarity. The reply was that the Armenians were neutral. From that time onward there was
a constant trickle of Armenians (Turkish subjects) into Russian territory where they
joined the Armenian battalions which afterwards formed the vanguard of the Russian army
which invaded Turkey. Pastermajian, an Armenian deputy of the Turkish parliament, marched
to the frontier with an armed force burning Muslim villages and massacring the
Then Turkey came into the war. Her troops invaded Russian territory and sustained a
serious defeat at Sari Kamish. It was at that moment of disaster for the Muslim arms that
the Armenians in the vilayets of Van and Bitlis (Turkish subjects siding with the enemy)
rose, seized a considerable tract of territory and held a regular battle with the Muslim
population, the majority of which was helpless owing to the absence of the able-bodied
The Armenian propagandists now deny that there was any rising of Armenians in the vilayets
in February-March 1915. I can only say that some Tiflis Armenian papers of April 1915 tell
a very different story, gleefully boasting of the way in which the Ottoman Armenians “stabbed
Turkey in the back.”
All this happened before a single Armenian (on the evidence) suffered at the hands of the
Muslims. You will seek in vain for any hint of it in the Bryce Report.
Of the subsequent atrocities committed by the Armenians on the Muslim population
throughout the territory which the Russian army occupied, there is abundant evidence from
Russian official sources. They will not bear quotation in a newspaper. My object in this
article is not to horrify the reader, nor to ‘show up’ the Armenians. It is simply to
point out that there is another side to the whole question which has not yet been heard. The
Turks have asked repeatedly for an impartial commission to inquire into the truth of these
events; the Indian Muslims demand such an inquiry; and it seems to me that justice
demands it. Why can it not be held?
There is one thing more I must say:
The people of Anatolia are warm-blooded, tragic people. The Anglo-Saxons are cold-blooded,
comic people who seem to Easterns only half alive. The sentimentality of England and
America is not, never can be, in reality adopted by peoples of a warmer blood and stronger
feelings. It is a cruelty for the Englishman to judge the Oriental by his own (i.e. the
Englishman’s) mentality. Now, the Armenian is a native of Asia Minor. He can give points
to the Turk in cruelty, and is as bad as any Kurd when at a certain heat. His neighbours
might not think the worse of him for that, when peace returned. What they can never pardon
is his pose of lamblike innocence before the sentimental peoples of the West, his feigned
adoption of their sentimental outlook, his making political capital against the majority
of his fellow-countrymen, out of events which in that country were the natural consequence
of his own desperate acts. He provokes a struggle in the most offensive manner and when he
gets the worst of it he whines and lies to England and America. You will find kindness and
cruelty — all kinds of violent extremes and contradictions — among Asiatic peoples,
but you will not find vulgarity or meanness, as a rule. It is the meanness of a section of
Armenians which has made the neighbouring races look on them as vermin. I am sorry for the
word, but no other could convey the mental attitude. In these circumstances favouritism
shown to the Armenians by the Allies must be disastrous to the former. Only even-handed
justice can preserve them. They were everywhere in a minority before the war, remember
that. Of the wider issue as between Islam and Christendom, I will only say that the fall
of Tsarist Russia opened the way to reconciliation; but our present rulers seem to prefer
the way of oppression pursued by Tsarist Russia for two centuries. Surely the fate of
Tsardom might have warned them!
Holdwater: Boy, he really hit it on the head, didn't
he? Look at that description of the Armenians in the last paragraph. The same tricks and
strategies used by them in this day and age, and Westerners still beat each other off,
getting in line to believe their lies.
"There is another side to the whole question which has not yet been heard."
What would Mr. Pickthall have said if he knew nearly a century later, this other side is
still not heard, or worse, when heard, ignored?
The Turkish Awakening
"The Turk is thus the worst possible champion
of his own cause. Anyone in possession of the facts could state his case much better
than he can state it"
On July 10, 1919, Marmaduke Pickthall, a British author, expert on the Middle
East, former Chaplain to the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, and eminent British
expert on and later-convert to Islam, and writer for The New Age, a British
intellectual journal edited by a French Jew, Alfred Richard Orage, commented on the
inability of the Ottoman government to make its case at the Paris Peace Conference:
“As I have often had occasion to remark in these columns, the Turk never sticks up
for himself in the controversy against Europe. He does not know how to do so. With a
strong case which any advocate could make convincing, he puts himself in the wrong
from a tendency to accept the point of view of his opponents — a tendency which
results from a sense of material defeat or helplessness. It is natural for a warlike
people to accept the condition of defeat in war, and to think that by accepting that
condition they appeal most strongly to the generosity of the conqueror. There is
also the feeling that it is a waste of time to seek to demolish prejudices so robust
as those which Europe cherishes regarding Turkey, even though those prejudices may
be based upon false information. The Turk is thus the worst possible champion of his
own cause. Anyone in possession of the facts could state his case much better than
he can state it. … [In Paris,] they have thrown away their own true case, and
accepted the mere ‘propaganda’ case of the Allies; instead of taking the
offensive in discussion, as they had the right to do, for the treatment Turkey had
received from the Allies conducing to the war was downright infamous, they assumed a
deprecating, defensive attitude and apologetic tone, and positively asked for what
they got — a snub the more offensive for its bland hypocrisy.”
Günay Evinch, "The Armenian Cause
Today," The Turkish American, Summer 2005
|Challenge to an Armenian
(As published in Armenian Review, Autumn 1984, Volume 37, Number
3-147, pp 67-70; thanks to M. Mersinoglu and Serdar.)
A Correspondence Between Marmaduke Pickthall ‘and the Armenian Bureau
E. V. Gulbekian
MARMADUKE WILLLAM PICKTHALL (1875-1936) was an English novelist who was converted to Islam
in 1914, at which time he adopted the name “Mohammed.” At the beginning of 1919 he was
appointed an imam at the mosque in Woking, England and during that year he worked for the
Islamic Information Bureau in London. This Bureau had been opened in 1918, financed
apparently by Moslem Indians. As part of its activities the Bureau published a weekly
newsletter entitled The Muslim Outlook, which Pickthall edited during 1919. He left
the Bureau in December of that year. 
His naive political attitude is apparent in a letter he writes from Bombay on March 24,
1921. In the letter he states: “I have been made extremely sad by the news of the murder
in Berlin of Talaat Pasha, who was a great friend of mine. . . . There was a memorial
meeting for him in the old cemetery in the Muslim quarter, at which I presided and had to
address more than ten thousand people. I tried to tell them what a brave man Talaat was,
and how sudden death was what he would have always chosen, and how such a death . . . was
really a most glorious martyrdom.” Later, be edited the Bombay Chronicle from
1920 to 1924 and he entered the education service of the nizam of Hyderabad in 1925. His
writings include With the Turk In War Time (1914) and The Meaning of the
Glorious Koran (1930). 
1 Anne Premamle, Loyal Enemy (London, 19381, pp. 251 and 296.
2 Ibid.,p. 346.
3 Who was who 1929-1940 (London, 1967), p. 1077.
Although Pickthall could be regarded as an English eccentric, his views — and his
letter to the Armenian Bureau — do reflect the prime concern of British foreign
policy during the first half of the twentieth century, namely the retention of India
within the British Empire.
The Armenian Bureau of London provided information on Armenian matters during the
First World War, publishing a series of documentary booklets. For a time the Bureau
was directed by the Raffi brothers, the sons of the famous nineteenth century
novelist Hakob Melik Hakobian whose pennarne was Raffi. Aram Raffi was the Secretary
of the Bureau for almost two years, withdrawing in 1918 or 1919 due to iII health,
at which time his brother Arshak took his place.  Aram died in November 1919 and
his brother resigned as Secretary soon after. The correspondance with Pickthall was
not continued thereafter.
The booklet which gave rise to Pickthall’s letter was entitled The Armenian
Question in the American House of Representatives (London, 1918). Pickthall’s
letter is typewritten, with corrections by hand on plain unheaded paper. The
Armenian Bureau’s reply, signed “A. Raffi, “is transcribed here from the
signed and corrected handwritten draft; it was probably written by Arshak.
The correspondence illuminates the principles by which the Raffis ran the Armenian
Bureau as well as the methods by which Ittihad ve Terakke propaganda was
distributed in Great Britain.
(Information for Footnote 4 was missing.)
The Islamic Information Bureau
33, Palace Street,
October 16th 1919.
Our attention has been called to the following statement contained in a pamphlet issued by
“Under the Koran strictly interpreted, every Christian is an outlaw and can be killed at
sight”. (The Armenian Question p.23). The words, I am aware are not your own, but since
your Bureau has passed them without comment or qualification, and is circulating them
among the British public as no unimportant part of the Armenian case, I ask you, in the
name of 150,000,000 British subjects, whose religion they misrepresent, kindly to give me
the chapter and verse of the Koran which, strictly interpreted means that “Every
Christian is an outlaw and can be killed at sight.”
An early answer will oblige.
The Secretary, The Armenian Bureau,
153, Regent Street,
Reply from the Armenian Bureau, 153 Regent Street, London W. 1.
The pamphlet to which you refer consists of a speech delivered before the American
Congress by the Hon. Lt. Col. Edward C. Little. This speech aroused great interest in
America first because it is the longest speech ever made in any House of Parliament on
behalf of the Armenians. It was reprinted from the official Parliamentary debates in
America in pamphlet form, and we have reprinted it here as a document. There are many
other points besides that which you mention, that I did not agree with, but I could not
interfere with a State document.
Not only have we never carried on any campaign against Islam but we have always avoided
any hostile reference to Islam. So much so, that when we have received telegrams from the
Caucasus in which the word “Musulman” occurred, which word in Russian is synonymous
with Tartar, to distinguish from the ‘Tatarin’ of Kazan, we have changed it to Tartar,
in order not to create any misunderstanding by causing the word to mean Islam.
I am myself an oriental scholar and am acquainted with Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and other
oriental literatures and have great admiration for anything Eastern. I have great respect
for the teaching of Islam, although I do not profess to be an expert on religions.
The work of our Bureau is to provide studies of the Armenian Question emanating from high
authorities. We never resort to agitation and the tactics of your Bureau, especially the
method of your writing in condemnation of the whole Armenian race trying to make people
believe that it is the Armenians who have massacred the Turks, not the Turks the
Armenians, though you have brought forward no facts in support of your allegations.
The baselessness of all your attacks on the Armenians could be established by quotations
from the Turkish newspapers. The guilt of the Turks is admitted by the Turkish government,
and documents ordering the extermination of the Armenian race, signed by Talaat and Enver,
are in existence and are accepted as genuine by the Turkish government and the press.
An Islamic or Ottoman Committee established on the lines followed by our Bureau would do
great service to Turkey. Years ago, with some Mohammedan friends I was trying to establish
a Society composed of Mohammedans and Christians, who would endeavour to study the Eastern
Question and promote a mutual understanding between the two. I was supported by my
Mohammedan friends, but my travels to Near East and soon after the outbreak of the war
prevented the realization of this scheme.
Holdwater: It's almost heartwarmnig that Armenian tactics
have changed so little throughout the years. Let's see now... in Gulbekian's biographical
description of Pickenthall, everything is about how "Moslem" the man was
(including having adopted the name "Mohammed" in 1914, which was certainly not
the way he chose to sign his name in these later articles and letters), sure to alienate
readers, because most would think, Who in their right mind would become a Moslem?), and
his friendship with Talat, sure to infuriate the mindless many who had concluded Talat was
nothing more than a clone of Adolf Hitler. Pickenthall is called an "eccentric," meaning the man must have been loopy
(along with a dash of his having been a "denialist"); finally, the writer for Armenian
Review, tells us that this letter by Pickenthal was an example of "methods
by which Ittihad ve Terakke propaganda was distributed in Great Britain,"
without explaining how a private letter (the publication of which its author had no
control over) would have been construed as "propaganda," in addition to the fact
that the CUP (Ittihad ve Terakke) was a dead horse by
1919, and the puppet successor government was pointing fingers at the CUP's policies and
not defending them.
(A fact that was actually alluded to in the Armenian response to Pickenthall, in the form
of the 1919-20 kangaroo courts!) Naturally the point of the Armenian writer is that
Pickenthall must be ridiculed, because he was nothing more than an "agent of the
In short, Armenian extremists choose to concentrate on the messenger, not the message.
Hey, all the guy was asking for was back-up on an ugly claim that was made; why not concentrate on the
issues, instead of taking these cheap shots? That is because for Dashnak-minded Armenians,
as the missionary Cyrus Hamlin correctly observed
in 1893: "Falsehood is, of course, justifiable where murder and arson are." Since
Armenian stories are so often based upon falsehoods, these end-justifies-the-means
extremists have become experts in building smokescreens.
Yet, as Hawthorne wrote, to paraphrase, No man can wear one face for himself and another
for the multitudes without getting bewildered. No doubt many of these propagandists start
believing in their own lies.
Now let's see how Raffi, an Armenian extremist from an even earlier era, squirmed his way
around the issue. Remember, all he had to do was explain why his rag endorsed a false
statement making Moslems out to be demons ordered by God to kill.
Raffi's tactic, predictably, was to first play innocent. His organization simply
reproduced what someone else said. Yet here is the situation: if you're in the position of
putting out a "fact book" on a cause, in this case injustices against Armenians,
in a society where the villains have already been demonized, it would be totally
unprofessional and unethical not to include a disclaimer, even if the words published
don't emanate from the publisher. The responsible editor would see to it that his
publication would not be a party to add to a hate campaign already strongly in existence.
Particularly if the idea behind this pamphlet was educational, where the unassuming reader
would be in a greater position of accepting claims at face value.
Raffi didn't come right out and admit the "Every Christian is an outlaw and can be
killed at sight" statement from the Koran was a complete lie; that might have set
a dangerous precedent, as he may have then needed to face up to all the other lies of his
propaganda organization. Not only did he not apologize, he then went into the familiar
Armenian "attack mode." The best defense, after all, is a good offense, and
there are fewer experts in offense than pro-Armenian propagandists.
Before lashing out, Raffi naturally had to vouch for Armenian innocence. He very
disingenuously wrote that hostile references to Islam have been avoided by his publishing
organization, while everyone knows Armenian propaganda exploits Western hostility to Islam
at every turn (that concept rests at the propaganda's very foundation, as the idea has
always been to sucker fellow Christians into believing the poor, Christian Armenians were
being victimized for religious reasons); he then begins the attack by accusing Pickenthall
of claiming Armenian massacres of Turks. As if this knowledgeable Armenian had no idea of
the atrociously murderous crimes committed by Armenians on a wide scale, that had been
going on for years before late 1919. (The publication that Gulbekian informed us
Pickentall served as editor of during 1919, The Muslim Outlook, came up with at
least one devastating example of
evidence the following year; we can rely on its accuracy, coming from a Russian source
that would have had no reason to be untruthful.)
Finally, Raffi resorts to the 1919-20 Ottoman kangaroo courts-martial as his own evidence
for Turkish guilt, the evidence that the British themselves rejected during their own Malta Tribunal process; and the ones current
pro-Armenian propagandists such as Vahakn Dadrian and Taner Akcam have relied upon for
their bread-and-butter. Raffi even went as shamefully far as asserting that "documents ordering the extermination of the Armenian race, signed by
Talaat and Enver, are in existence and are accepted as genuine by the Turkish
government and the press." This was stated in the year before Aram Andonian's forgeries, created exactly for lack of
such signed documents. Now why do you suppose one of the sons of the famous Raffi, this A.
Raffi, would have permitted himself to get caught on record with such a terrible lie?
There is a riddle for use by the Sphinx. Not solely for the case of A. Raffi, but
across-the-board for so many, many Armenian and pro-Armenian propagandists.
Here's a good background on this exceptional man.