Infidel

An Armenian girlfriend of mine, Sona, is taking Turkish language lessons in college. Like me, she was born here and her family is from Istanbul. There are two teachers that she is studying with, both Turks. One with whom she gets along with smashingly -- and the other seems to not like her too much. Sona is rather fiery in personality, and isn't afraid to bring up those issues that are often smoldering under the skin when it comes to Turkish/Armenian relations.

This past week when the not-so-likable teacher was in for the day, another student asked what the Turkish word for Christian was. Sona chimed in immediately, exclaiming, "Giavour!" Giavour in Turkish means infidel, or unbeliever, and has a particularly negative and degenerate tone. Christian minorities in Turkey, (Armenians, Greeks, etc.) are often placed in this category, and labeled as such. For Sona to bring up this issue so boldly, and in a class full of students generally ignorant of the history of the region, caught the teacher off-guard. She harrumphed and paused and blurted out, "Well......actually.......the correct term is.... Hristian." However, Sona had succeeded in unveiling the blemished face of religious differences within the Turkish region.