Rihla (The Journey) – was the short title of a 14th Century (1355) book written in Fez by the Islamic legal scholar Ibn Jazayy al-Kalbi of Granada who recorded and then transcribed the dictated travelogue of the Tangerian Ibn Battuta. The book’s full title was A Gift to Those who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling and somehow the title of Ibn Jazayy's book captures the ethos of many of the city and country journeys I have been lucky to take in past years.
This one is about Ani, capital of old Armenian Kingdom, Eastern Turkey.
The incarceration, extermination and deportation (the systematic nature of which has been recognized as genocide by about twenty countries and the European Parliament) of somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000 people of Armenian ethnicity between 1915 and 1918 is a highly emotive issue for citizens of both countries and something that I first encountered when visiting Armenia in 2002. Whether walking up the main street in Yerevan towards the very stark and somber genocide monument or waking up each morning and staring south-west towards Mount Ararat knowing that you could not reach the mountain from within Armenia or talking to people for whom the genocide was a fact of life and that the lack of acknowledgement or apology by Turkey, for this stain on its modern history, rankled most.
And now the ‘modern’ State of Turkey, which has been absolved in the main of responsibility for their Ottoman predecessors’ genocide of the Armenians, has a ‘Kurdish’ separatist problem. The sins of the grandfathers have come back to haunt and in an equally moral and secret vacuum the ‘modern’ Turkish State has over the past 20 years tried to militarily and governmentally eradicate the 'Kurdish problem'.