March 23, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
On March 9, 2010, you hosted Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America to celebrate Greek Independence Day.
While March 25, 1821 represents the launch of the Greek independence movement, it also marks the beginning of a horrible period for the Ottoman Muslims; in the Balkans alone 1,750,000 Ottoman Muslims were slaughtered and 1 million forcibly removed from their homelands.
“With savage jubilance,” noted by the late Harvard professor Dennis Skiotis, [the Greeks] sang the words ‘let no Turk remain in the Morea, nor in the whole world.” Thus began the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire, first ignited on the Peloponnese in the Spring of 1821. The patriotic cry of the revolution, proclaimed by Archbishop Germanos, was "Peace to the Christians! Respect to the Consuls! Death to the Turks!" It is estimated that nearly 30 thousands Turks and other Muslims lived in the Peloponnese in March 1821. Nearly all were massacred or sold into slavery, the traces of their heritage erased forever. A month later, when the Greeks were celebrating Easter, hardly any of them remained.
On March 9th you evoked Archbishop Germanos, likening him to your guest, Archbishop Demetrios, who preceded your remarks with an embarrassing political diatribe against Turkey and other neighbors of Greece. Archbishop Demetrios’ words were those of a nationalist in the mold of his predecessors, not those of a man of God. The message he conveyed from a White House podium was the message of a religious leader who flagrantly mixes religion with politics and seeks to ignite contemporary conflicts by fanning ancient ones. It is neither a message the world can afford, nor one that should have been delivered standing next to the President of the United States.
At a time when the United States is waging both real and public relations wars against Islamist extremists who call for a holy war against the United States and its allies, including Turkey, this event sent a dangerous message to the world. Namely, that all "holy wars" are not denounced equally, and some, in fact, can be celebrated in the White House.
Mr. President, you bestowed a great honor upon the Greek American community by inviting them to celebrate their national day in your company. As the President of the United States, you have the ability to make great, positive change in the United States relations with the rest of the world. We hope that in the future you will celebrate only those days that do not signify the beginning of one of the world's worst tragedies.
G. Lincoln McCurdy
Turkish Coalition of America
cc: Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State