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Musa Dagh

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Armenians being rescued after resisting slaughter by Turkish Army for 40 days
Descendants of Musa Ler preparing annual free harissa feast to celebrate rescue

Musa Dagh (Dagh is Turkish for mountain) or Musa Ler (Ler is Armenian for mountain) is a small mountain on the Mediterranean coast, today on the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border. The Armenian villagers put up a famous defense of their lives, which was immortalized in the best-selling fictionalized account by Franz Werfel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.

The true events are the inhabitants of six villages on the slopes of Musa Dagh, chose to resist in 1915 and set up fortifications on the mountain. For 53 days they repelled onslaughts by Turkish troops until French sailors sighted a banner the Armenians had tied to a tree on the mountain emblazoned with the words: “Christians in Distress: Rescue.” French and British naval ships then evacuated some 4,200 men, women and children from Musa Dagh to Port Said in Egypt. From there groups of these refugees settled in different places, and many returned after WWI, only to leave permanently in 1939 when this area was transferred from Syria to Turkey. Today, only the tiny village of Vakifli remains Armenian on Musa Ler. In fact, this is the only Christian Armenian village left anywhere in Turkey.

Many of those who were resettled after the handover to the Turks, were moved to Anjar village in Lebanon. This village remains almost wholly Armenian today. Others settled in Musa Ler Village in Armenia, just minutes west of Yerevan. There is a memorial built in the village, and each year 40 huge pots of Harisa are cooked on the anniversary of the escape to celebrate, and shared free with any visitors to their village.

Armenians find reason to celebrate

Bee staff08/30/08 22:22:27

The Mousa Dagh Commemoration Committee in Fresno held its annual picnic and celebration Saturday at the Fresno Police Association's training grounds.

This year marks the 93rd year of remembrance of the Forty Days of Mousa Dagh, a village in Armenia.

The villagers, under siege by the Turks during the Armenian genocide, fought off the soldiers for 40 days before being saved by a French ship passing by on the Mediterranean Sea. The celebration Saturday began with the cooking of the Harissa, a lamb and whole wheat stew.

The event also included traditional music and dancing.

It continues today with church services at 10:30 a.m., a blessing of the Harissa and music until 3 p.m.

The picnic began in 1978 with a few families keeping the culture alive and now attracts between 800 and 1,000 people each year from as far away as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Canada.

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External links

A tomb of some survivors of Musa Dagh exists in a cemetary in The city of Port Said (Egypt).For more details you can contact