YEREVAN, JULY 12, ARMENPRESS. Hrayr Jebejian, General Secretary of the Bible Society in the Gulf, recently has paid a visit to Armenia. According to him, church, schools, religion and Bible play a key role in the preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora.
Sharing their activities aimed at preserving Armenian identity in Armenian communities in the Gulf, Hrayr Jebejian told ARMENPRESS that 160 nations live in the Arab states of the Gulf, including Armenians. “We have an Armenian community in Kuwait reaching 3000, as well as our church and school. There are two Armenian churches in the United Arab Emirates, the one is in Abu Dhabi, and the other in Sharjah. And we teach Armenian language, history, religion, Armenian culture in colleges. The Armenian colony in Bahrain is very small, there are not so many Armenians in Qatar as well, and very few in Oman. Armenian language is taught in all colonies”, he said.
Hrayr Jebejian noted that they try to preserve the Armenian identity in these countries through church, as the church unites the colony. “Christians in Muslim countries are a guest: there is no absolute freedom, but ceremonies are taking place in churches, and the life concentrates around church and school. Numerous events relating to Armenia are being organized”, he said.
The Bible Society in the Gulf operates in 200 countries, including in Armenia. The main purpose is to translate, publish and spread the Bible. The Society is cooperating with all churches regardless of community belonging.
“We implement the “Commitment of the Bible” program. Bible is sometimes left in bookshelves, but it’s important for the people to read and understand it. When you read the Bible, the language, culture, policy and history impact the perception. Various events are being organized in order to encourage people to read it in their mother tongue and understand its meaning”, he said.
According to him, Diaspora is very complex and colorful. “We have not become a Diaspora by our won will, it is an imposed reality. I was born in Beirut not by my choice. My father has been one year old when they were deported, came to Aleppo and then Beirut. I am a Lebanese-Armenian, the other is French-Armenian and so on. And so what does it mean to be Armenian in this situation? I am trying to reveal this”, he said.
Hrayr Jebejian said currently there are gaps in the Armenia-Diaspora relations, but he stresses the need to do everything possible to fill these gaps, know each other and work.
Interview by Anzhela Hambardzumyan