World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Cyprus through History (131) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: TUE, 20 / 2.30 - 4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Shirin Darvish Rohani (Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization)

Paper presenter: Martin Strohmeier (Professor, University of Cyprus, Dept. of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, Cyprus), “Cyprus as a place of exile and asylum in the Middle East”
Cyprus as a place of exile and asylum in the Middle East throughout the 20th century, nation-building processes, policies of homogenization and repression by the state, autocratic regimes, wars between countries and civil wars, as well as ethnic and religious conflicts in the Middle East have led to displacement and deportation. One of the destinations of individuals and groups subject to such practices has been Cyprus. Strictly speaking, Cyprus is not considered to be an integral part of the Middle East. However, due to its proximity to the Middle East, its insular character, a largely neutral stance and unproblematic relations with Middle Eastern neighbouring countries and its relatively stable political and economic situation, Cyprus has been a place of exile and asylum for individuals and groups experiencing oppression and persecution in their Middle Eastern home countries. This function as a place of refuge continued even when Cyprus itself was the scene of internal displacement and expulsion in the 1970`s. The paper will focus on several individuals and groups who fled or were sent to Cyprus in the late 19th and 20th centuries. During the Ottoman period it was common to banish undesirable persons to the island which was a province of the Ottoman Empire until 1878. The most prominent among these exiles was Namik Kemal, the celebrated poet and influential member of the oppositional Young Ottoman movement. One of the spiritual fathers of the Baha’is, Subh-i Ezel, was exiled to Cyprus by the Ottoman government in order to prevent his activities in the Turkish heartland. In 1898, approx. 1,100 Doukhobors, a Russian peasant religious sect, left their Caucasian homeland for Cyprus. There they had suffered persecution on account of their refusal to do military service and rejection of state and church authority. However, their stay in Cyprus did not last long, as most of them left for Canada.In 1925, the ex-King of Hejaz, Husayn ibn Ali, was taken by the British to Cyprus, because he had become an obstacle not only to British policies, but also to the ambitions of his sons Faysal and Abdallah. Only in 1930 was the ailing Husayn allowed to leave Cyprus and spend the last months of his life in Amman. Another memorable episode in the history of exile and asylum in Cyprus was the internment of more than 50,000 Jews who tried to immigrate to Palestine in the late 1940`s, but ran into the blockade imposed by Britain. A comparison between these groups and individuals, their living conditions and status, their activities and their stay on the island as well as a brief look at the reaction of local people towards groups of exiles or immigrants will allow us to draw conclusions regarding the nature of exile and asylum in Cyprus.

Paper presenter: Ali Efdal Ozkul (Assoc.Prof. Dr., Head Of Department of History, Near East University, Cyprus), “Consulate Activities In Cyprus During The Ottoman Period”
The Island of Cyprus had a very important role in Eastern Mediterranean for its geographical and strategical location. Due to this reason, Cyprus played a prominent part in terms of trade in the Mediterranean region. The countries, which had trade in the Mediterranean, used Cyprus depending on their aim. This encouraged almost all of the governments trading with the Ottomans to send their traders to Cyprus. At the same time, each government used to send their consuls as representatives to Cyprus to solve their own traders’ problems. These consuls had strong authority to liven up the trade.
England, France and Venice were the most authorized countries which had a consul and a counsul’s interpreter in Cyprus. In this study, information will be presented about these counsuls’ and their interpreters’ activities and their identity in detail.
Trade in the Mediterranean Sea via Cyprus affected the Cypriot community and their socio-economic culture deeply. This study will focus on the trade in Cyprus with other countries, which had critical position in the Mediterranean Sea. It will also attempt to compare the import and export goods, and will especially highlight the magnitude of contraband goods and the precautions taken by the other countries to carry out contraband trade, which led to great losses in terms of taxes by the Ottomans.
This study will therefore focus on consulate activities in Cyprus during the Ottoman period (1571-1878) and the merchants, their trade and goods.
This study is based on Cyprus Nicosia Judicial Record (Şer-i Sicil) registers and the diaries of the Consuls’, the diaries of the Deputy of Consuls’ and the diaries of the European Travellers, written at the time.
The result of the study illustrates the importance of Cyprus in terms of trade in the Mediterranean Sea, the influences of the trade on the Cypriot citizens as well as the positive and negative effects of the consuls’ and their interpreters’ on the Cypriot socio-economic structure.

Paper presenter: M. Akif Erdogru (PH.D., Ege University, Turkey), “Conversion in Ottoman Cyprus at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries”
Cyprus is an island of eastern Mediterranean where conversion to Islam officially began in 1572 and lasted to British Convention in 1878. When the island was completely conquered by Ottoman Turks from Venetians in the year of 1571, the conversion to Islam began at once on the island. Conversion to Islam and from other religions, mainly from Christianity, is one of the most important topics for the history of the Ottoman period. A few non-Muslim rulers of Venetian period, who were appointed as a commander of the fortress, after the conquest, changed his religion, Latin Christianity, converted to Islam and accepted Islamic name and a new Ottoman post. Now, we have first official list dated 1572 concerning Cypriot Muslim converts who were from mainly native Greek Orthodox and a few the feudal rulers of Venetian administration. I pointed out that the new Muslim converts were mainly and numerically from the rural areas of the island in their bad economic conditions. Both local administrators and judges appointed by Ottoman government were responsible for official conversion. If any non Muslim change his/her religion, wish to enter to Islam, it is necessary to make a simple bureaucratic process, by applying to the Islamic court of judge or the office of main governor of Cyprus, in general at Nicosia city. We also have a number of Ottoman documents about conversion to Islam, prepared by the chief of judges of island, the judge of Nicosia judicial area, written in short Ottoman Turkish sentences. We find valuable information on the first name of Muslim convert, an Islamic name after conversion to Islam, gender, age, adult or not, her or his physical description, etc. in the documents. My paper is based mainly on Ottoman archival documents kept at the archives of Turkey and Cyprus and gave new information on conversion on Ottoman Cyprus.