Egyptian Chronicles: About Those Amazing Egyptian Armenians

Friday, April 24, 2015

About Those Amazing Egyptian Armenians

Armenia commemorates the 100th anniversary of  the Armenian genocide today  reminding the world with one of the worst war crimes and genocides committed against its people by Ottoman empire.

I will not go into endless and meaningless historical and political debate after 100 years about the genocide nor I will not comment on how suddenly Arab nationalists remember the Armenian genocide and ignore genocides committed against ethnic groups and minorities whether in Iraq or Sudan or any other part of the Arab world because they want to tease Turkey.

I know that the world won’t learn from what happened 100 years ago because genocides are still committed and people are forced to leave their homes, it is an ugly old human truth.

Today members of the Armenian community in Egypt commemorated the Armenian Genocide centennial at Egypt's Unknown Solider Memorial in Nasr City in a rally led by the scout boys and girls of  The Armenian community in Egypt.

By Kegham Karsian 
By Kegham Karsian
You can see the rest of photos from the event here at this photo album by Kegham Karsian. 

Allowing the memorial to be held at Egypt's Unknown Solider Memorial sends a message I think at least to the community and Armenia after the fact that Egypt's ambassador to Armenia did not participate in the official Commemoration in Yerevan.

There is no official reason on why the ambassador did not participate, but unofficial reasons say that the Egyptian regime was worried about the Egyptian workers in Turkey !!!!

This is a joke , seriously speaking considering the fact that Egyptian government kicked the Turkish ambassador himself and they care now for the Egyptian workers in Turkey !!!

Here is a video from Ahram Online showing the Commemoration of  the Armenian genocide at the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate in Cairo on Thursday

I will rather speak today about those beautiful Egyptian Armenians whose grandparents and parents found a safe refuge in Egypt escaping the war and the genocide. I will speak briefly about the Egyptian Armenian community.

The Egyptian Armenian community has got a very long history in Egypt since the Middle ages and the rule of Mamluks. It is enough already that Queen or Sultana Shajar Al-Durr was said to be of Armenian origins according to some historical accounts.

In 19th century, the Egyptian Armenian community began to participate effectively in building the Modern Egypt we know now. We had several ministers in the 19th century from Armenian origin above them Nubar Pasha, Egypt’s first Prime minister.

After the Armenian genocide and its forced migration, Egypt received many of the refugees and survivors who found safe haven in this country.
The Near East Relief placed Armenian orphans in Egyptian Armenian
homes in Cairo and Alexandria "Amr Ali
Thousands of Armenians came and settled down in Egypt as new home and Egypt truly became their second or rather their substitute home. Since then Armenian community played a critical role in building that cosmopolitan nation we are speaking about its glory now.

I can not list all the names of famous Egyptian Armenians, but there are certain names in my mind I can not ignore. Above them Alexander Saroukan, the famous legendary cartoonist who created “Al-Masry Effendi” cartoon character to comment on Egypt’s political affairs.

I can not also forget Egypt’s most famous portrait photographer Van Leo, please visit his official Facebook page to see his work.
Van Leo and his family "Official Van Leo FB page 

And who can forget the Artian girls “ Fayrouz and Nelly” as well their cousin Ninochka aka Leblebla.
Fariouz , Nelly and Leblebla 
The legendary child actor  Fayrouz is sick according to actor Khaled El-Sawy.
After 1952 and the nationalization policies adopted later by Nasser’s administration, many Egyptian Armenians left Egypt to Europe and to the United States.
Nevertheless, there are still thousands of Egyptian Armenians living now in Egypt quietly.
Most Egyptians now do not know that the Armenian community still got two daily Armenian newspapers and an Armenian school still operating in Cairo since the 19th century.
Already I pass by Kalousidan School, Egypt’s oldest private school in Boulaq, Cairo every day on my way to work.
There are two daily Armenian newspapers published in Egypt: Housaper and Arev. Both newspapers are among the oldest private daily newspapers in Egypt.
When I mention all this, I can not keep myself from thinking how Egypt and Egyptians were open to everybody and how this made Egypt flourish when it comes socially and culturally. I just wonder if we can be that open once again.


  1. Too bad Egyptian Armenians and all other ethnic groups, including those considered of non-Egyptian Arab origin, must fear the raging xenophobia and hatred of the ruling clique. Those who promote unbridled racism/murder/torture do not whatsoever care about past genocides or the victims of those genocides.

    1. On the Contrary dear Orange , there is no fear for that because they are not considered foreign anymore but rather Egyptians like Egyptian-Arab origin. It is not all bad and black in Egypt.

    2. It is good that some things are not affected by the tides of politics.

  2. I would like to thank all Egyptians for welcoming my orphaned father and other Armenians who arrived from Turkey in 1915-1923 to make Egypt their new found home. Egypt gave them security, kindness and help and because of that I wish all Egyptians the best....Thank You!
    The Canadian/Egyptian/Armenian.

  3. Famous Egyptian Armenians
    Yuhanna al-Armani, 18th century Coptic icon painter
    Garbis Aprikian, musician.
    Armand, photographer.
    Gohar Gasparyan, opera singer.
    Edmond Kiraz, cartoonist.
    Hagop Sandaldjian, musician and sculptor.
    Alexander Saroukhan, cartoonst / caricaturist.
    Feyrouz, Perouz Artin child actress in the 1950s and 1960s
    Nelly, Nelly Artin Kalfaian, actress, performer and entertainer.
    Lebleba, or Lubluba, real name Nonia Kupelian, Egyptian actress.
    Anoushka, a well-known Armenian Egyptian singer
    Atom Egoyan, Canadian filmmaker of Armenian Egyptian origin
    Raffi, Canadian Egyptian children's singer and songwriter of Armenian origin (Raffi Cavoukian)
    Georges Kazazian, musician / oudist (based in Egypt)
    Nubar Pasha, politician and the first Prime Minister of Egypt.
    Boghos Nubar, son of Nubar Pasha, politician and co-founder of the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
    Boghos Yousefian, Minister of Commerce and Minister of Foreign Affairs
    And many more.

    1. Remember Bahiga Thomassian.??..who drew the biggest amount of SAMIR children s magazine from 1957-1959.. Her cartoons were UNIQUE and inspiring us the kids of that era ... it was folkloric, thanks to her drawings we knew what other peoples national dresses are..or what they do in ESKIMO/ MEXICO/CHINA/VENICE in Italy ..or what GONDOLE meant,even we heard that word in Great Mohamed Abdel Wahab s song,but some of us kids never knew what it was..until Dear Mrs.BAHIGA showed us on SAMIR /TAHTAH cover in a cartoon..she drew over 140 Samir covers//the biggest anount in SAMIR S history ... then in Lebanon she worked for Al ANWAR daily paper/ first ever political paper published cartoon strips for kids to enjoy reading it with their parents' ,followed /
      working for BISSAT EL REEH(Magic Carpet) and many other posters /books covers here & there..with her sister RITA Thomassian?? CLASSICAL IDEAS AND CHARACTERS...shame that we lost them for America..instead of awarding such GOD given talents ,we force them and others to join the brain drain,when we need such TALENTS desperately..the happiness they /SHE gave us was immeasurable,...A school in its own right,...... NEXT: late Mr, HAROON or HRANT a wheelchair bound genius who was crippled but still gave us BASEL
      & Scout friends in many adventures..those Artists were the GIANTS of Egypt s cultural scene in the 1940/50s..never to be Replaced..if only they knew how much we .. & especially I do cherish /respect treasure their efforts in difficult circumstances then/without any INTERNET in the rooms of DAR EL HILAL publishing house /some sadly passed away some still around , GOD bless them ALL wherever they may be NOW!! As long as their works are exposed their Memories will shine through/// with best wishes from :Is-Hak Barsoumian/London


  4. I, too, grew up in Heliopolis during the idyllic days of of the 1940's and 50's. I was surrounded by family and friends in a world I did not realize did not have long to last. My father was a physician so I was exposed to many facets of life. When I left Egypt, I left with a strong sense of identity and self. Maybe, for some of us, those were the good old days. Again, I join those who will always be grateful to the Egyptian people for welcoming the Armenian survivors of the Turkish genocide.

  5. Hi!! My name is Is-Hak Barsoumian/born in Beirut/LEBANON on 02/02/1947 to an Armenian parent from cilicia or (kILIKIA) in today s Turkey?? Lebanon,like any other neighbouring country opened its arms widely to welcome the ARMENIAN refugees ,,We built straight away our Churches/Schools/businesses in a vast area given to us in BOURJ HAMMOUD district next to Beirut River by the French Authorities occupying most of the Middle East and African nations...but the locals welcomed us too,as they themselves were suffering such persecutions foreign occupiers, Turks/French /Brits??But Egypt s circumstances were a bit different, as there were WEALTHY tycoons of the Armenian origin there already. came in the days of OTTOMAN Turks in the 1800 s,they did integrate with the Local people such as the Arabs/Greeks/Jews & many others such as Europeans living there for Centuries?? We had Armenian PASHA-s (Lords) ruling in Egypt/Lebanon /Iraq..even in Turkey ,before 1915 GENOCIDE !!Armenians were holding HIGH ruling positions then..and even the Ottoman constitution was written/dictated by ARMENIAN intellectuals and politicians ??...So what i am saying is that Egyptian Armenians ,after 200 or more years in there bound to be considered 200% Egyptians, this goes with the saying >>>> ONE IS MORE CATHOLIC THAN THE POPE HIMSELF IN ROME!! GOD bless Egypt and all its multi-Colors/beliefs/classes population////Regards from Is-Hak Barsoumian in London/G.Britain

  6. Sir /Madam at EGYPT.CHRONICLES/ in your Infamous Armenians in Egypt list i couldn t see names such as Ms.BAHIGA THOMASSIAN(KHALIL)/HAROON or HRANT /GARO They worked in DAR EL HILAL publication SAMIR children s weekly magazine in 1956-1961?? also Belly dancers such as HERMINEH/ CORIOGRAPHER ms.NELLY MAZLOUM Greek/Armenian??...Please add them to your list..GOD bless you ...... Also YOUSSUF effendi ..gave his name to Tangerine citrus fruit??

  7. My name IS-hak BarsoumIAN...Ii am a Lebanese Armenian /born in BEIRUT the year of 1947, and for some years a British citizen! I am very proud of these all...but most of all i am an ARMENIAN first and last,and automatically a Christian be it Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant or others, because our language & religion walk together hand in hand for 2000 years, as ARMENIA was the first nation on earth to adopt Christianity as its official religion ...that"s why my people suffer and still do to this day....some people think we lost 1.500.000 genocide victims because we refused to convert ourselves to ISLAM in Ottoman Turkey ...Wrong...the game of nations was much bigger than that intention,even such conversion would not have saved 10 out 0f every 100 killed Armenian innocents...Big nations of the time had a secret agenda...but using Religion was a trick to start the fire, I confirm , humbly ,but dignified by the fact that i read the HOLY KORAN A-Z and know verses by did not hurt at all, i am still an Armenian who respects others beliefs and thoughts. with added knowledge since i read it all page to page! waste of time some will say..on contrary ,i won more time in this life i assume, ,and the next too >>>i hope?! We all believe in ONE and only CREATOR...even Christ admitted that there is no marriages in the eternity,when asked about 7 brothers married consecutively same woman when each died in his turn...whom she belongs in the next life?? people asked Jesus ?so we too believe that GOD is spiritually HOLY Christ"s father... our meek mentality can not comprehend the Supernatural terms..apart from this dispute between both religions ,i never saw anything else PARTS...OR DIFFERENTIATES our beliefs...but still we suffer RELIGIOUS human history Christians massacred Christians /Moslems slaughtered Moslems, in recent history remember IRELAND?? or Iraq/Iran war for 8 years in 1980s?? how short is our memory to forget all that...and even now days in the Middle East,,even if we were Moslems living in turkey but our ethnicity belonging was different this was going to happen ,i mean the Genocide of 1915..the whole thing is more than churches or mosques attendances,the CAKE was creamed in EUROPE and the birthday BOY in this party,Turkey ,given the sharp knife to cut IT,and blow the 4500 candles of Armenian civilization in that cake SLICE!!

  8. 2 opportunities , i ,unfortunately, missed in my childhood days to befriend..or even say HELLO to this Great FILM/SONG star Mrs Nelly KALFAYAN ..or Just>>>> NELLY??<<< Once ,back in 1955 or 56? not sure which , when Mr.Artin Kalfayan & blessed family visited LEBANON then , and rent a room at PANSION Seet LATIFEH KAAKATI. at Patriarch HOIYEK street near Bab EDRISS shopping district /Beirut, for a couple of weeks to appear personally and promote their movie ASSAFIR EL GANNA(Birds of Paradise)..which her elder sister and once a child prodigy Mr.PERUZ Kalfayan _ late Madam GAMGOUM..or beter renowned as FAYROUZ/and sometimes YASMINE or DAHAB. because she was so good in her little orphan girls roles that people kept calling her those names after the film titles..sadly we lost her this year by Feb.2016.. 1955 i was 8 years old and at school...later i knew that my late mother was visitin TANT LATIFEH, pension owner & my mom s good friend... my late cousin EDWARD BARSOUMIAN ,was 17 year old teen and a gentleman, he was too handsome and a DON JUAN type , He became a good friend and helped her in shopping around, My second time was in 1959 ,when my Mom gave me money to book 2 place in CINEMA DIANA/ a basement theatre next to cinema Metropole/ next to Place des Canons/Beiruts city centre they were showing YASMINE movie ..and 3 sisters FAYROUZ/MERVET & NELLY suppose to appear in person on the stage doing some Acrobatic act show, as the whole family was a circus Acrobats act members in the 1940/50 s,,..when buying 2 tickets i heard and saw little cute Miss NELLY close to me having chat with the cinema personnel.. she was then,i guess , 9/10 years ?? i was too shy to say..Hello!! What a sad coincidence was this as Dearest FAYROUZ(Peruz) sadly passed away in FEB. my cousin beloved EDWARD OR Yetwart or EDDIE..his Don Juan name passed away MARCH 2016 at the age of79...GOD BLESS THEM, ALL !! May they rest in HEAVENLY peace..and grant Mrs.NELLY/ A long and prosperous LIFE. Our loses are ETERNITYs gain,all we need is patience and endurance...without them around us....their memories will go on in our minds /hearts & souls.. they are U..N..F..O..R..G..E..T..T..A..B..L..E / MORTALS.... Just not forgetting to mention Mr. Badre Eddin GAMGOUM whom gave Fayrouz 2 gorgeous children followed by grandchildren and most of all his true LOVE /Also GREAT GREAT Film director Mr. ANWAR WAGDI whom goes all the praises in making FAYROUZ a child star..never been repeated in Arab-Cinema s History since 1947 such phenomenon ,only exception her cousin LEBLEBAH..may GOD give her too ,a very long long life and career success ..made us Armenians wherever ..PROUD!!

  9. They said in Arabic:Rubba soudfaten kheyron min alfi me3ad...Meaning
    ==(Sometimes co incidence is a blessing) this is very true in my life;;;as i told in my previous story about Mrs NELLY, met her in Cinema DIANA /Beirut/1960??
    Also i met ..>>>or they passed me by<<<<...which makes me regret more that i never had the courage to shake their hands..what a pity,,,,too late NOW!! for instance Late Great Egyptian film comedian Mr.ABDEL SALAM AL NABULSI ,he passed me by in Beshara el Khoury Avenue in Beirut ..wearing his Navy blue suit..always & like in his movies a smart/ Elegant Gentleman..we had eye contact ,but maybe the shock and my shyness prevented me saying Hello YOU Great star.. that I ADORE.. what a SHAME! This was in 1968 the year ,HE, sadly passed away after few months,,,,in 1975 during the Lebanese war ,i went to visit his grave at AL BASHOURA s vast cemetery..while bullets and bombs falling every which way..just to show how sorry i was not to say few words then..As he was living in Beirut HIS last years of his somehow short life this day i never got over it ,what is more sad that we could not locate his tomb stone to lay some FLOWERS...but HIS SWEET MEMORY AND THE SMILES HE GAVE US ALL WILL ALWAYS LIVE IN US,especially in my Heart & soul,,may HE always rest in Heavenly Peace!!........... Late 1960 s i was visiting my friend s photography studio which was called co incidently ,studio Al AHRAM to collect my photos ..suddenly we heard loud laughter outside the corridor, as we were inside AL AZARIYAH tower to Theatro EL KBEER theatre /cinema.. the noise source was Late GREAT Dearest Madam SAMIA GAMAL. in her brown coloured suit.i mean trouser & i have met her YESTERDAY..and she was coming down from lEBANESE Press Union, upstairs..after meeting the press..i guess.,, she said IZAYYAK YA VAHE.Vahe SEVIAN was my photographer friend s name..another opportunity MISSED .. or even an autograph for keeps... Oh my GOD!! SO ,,i advise all who read this humble Comment , listen to your hearts and not your minds or pride ,because there won t be a second opportunity

    ..grab the what your heart tells you and not your mind,you may not have a second chance to tell the ones you love /adore how much you care and respect the song says IF>>>> TOMORROW NEVER COMES1!<<<<<And before it is too late to show your appreciation to this or that person.//// Regards from London/Is-hak Barsoumian

    7 soul

  10. Most Respectful ZEINOBIA..Thank you for allowing my humble Comments/views to appear on your blog Egy'CHRONICALS ..LATELY , I and SORRY FOR THE LONG ONES/ BUT I WOULD LIKE TO PUT THE READER IN THE WHOLE PICTURE?? Also forgive my >>>sometimes <<<< printing errors or spellings , I WILL DO MY BEST TO AVOID ANY in the future ,But i am sure your BLOG FOLLOWERS ARE KIND AND SMART ENOUGH ALSO FORGIVING,TO GUESS WHAT I MEAN/ or MENT..IN GENERAL...''' I WILL GIVE IT A REST FOR FEW DAYS ... TO SEE IF MY STORIES ARE NOT BORING ANYONE??...THANKS ALSO TO THE READER OF EACH NEW COMMENT I HAVE SENT!! AND SAID..O K??...GOD BLESS YOU & YOU ALL FOR YOUR VALUABLE TIME//from is-hak Barsoumian/London/Gr.Britain


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