World, Europe

Belgian village hosts Turkey-themed carnival

Established in 1961, annual event celebrates village's historic affinity with Turkey

Sibel Uğurlu,Can Erözden   | 06.03.2019
Belgian village hosts Turkey-themed carnival

ANKARA

Faymonville, Belgium's famous "Turkish village" with no Turkish residents, hosted its annual carnival Tuesday, which is notable for its Turkish flags and motifs.

The carnival has been celebrated since 1961 -- an old tradition for Faymonville, located in Belgium’s French-speaking Walloon region near the German border, George Norbert, head of the carnival committee, told Anadolu Agency.

"Around 1,000 people, including spectators, attended the carnival this year," Norbert said.

"This year, a group of Turkish people living in Belgium and Germany's Cologne visited our village to join the carnival.”

Apart from the carnival, Faymonville has a local football team, Royal Football Club Turkania, playing in a Belgian lower division, the logo of which features a Turkish star and crescent, said Norbert.

In addition, Faymonville village features other Turkish motifs.

The entrance of the municipality building and Hotel Le Vieux Sultan, or Old Sultan Hotel, which was heavily damaged by a fire in 2012, feature the Turkish star and crescent.

Turkish and Belgian flags are waved in front of the municipality building on some special occasions.

The designation of Faymonville as a “Turkish village” is based on three regional myths, according to an article written by Yilmaz Irmak and Ertugrul Tas in Milli Folklor (National Folklore) magazine.

According to the first myth, Faymonville’s villagers stood by the Turks against the Christians in the Battle of Ambleve in 716 and were therefore called "Turk" and excluded by the surrounding villages. This war is referred to as "Turkenschlacht", which means ‘Turkish War’.

In the second myth, the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy frequently collected taxes from the people of the region to meet needs in the war against Muslims. Faymonville villagers, who were ruled by the Duke of Luxembourg at the time, refused to pay taxes to the Church of Stavelot-Malmedy and to send troops to the Crusades against Muslims. Consequently, the people of Faymonville were accused of cooperating with the enemies of Christianity and called ‘Turks’.

In the third myth, the priest of Faymonville Church went up to the church tower before the church's bell was placed and invited the people to worship by imitating the Muslim prayer.

*Yusuf Hatip from Belgium contributed to this story

Carnival in 'Turkish Village' Faymonville in Belgium

LIEGE, BELGIUM - MARCH 4: Belgian villagers who call themselves "Turk" for centuries take part in the the annual Faymonville Carnival in the Faymonville village of Liege, Belgium on March 4, 2019. According to rumors, while people were collecting money for victims suffered from Turkish occupation in Europe in 16th and 17th centuries, villagers of Faymonville refused to give money and thus they were declared "enemy of Christian world and friend of Turks". Villagers had the name of "Turk" that period. Another rumor claims that Faymonville villagers rejected to join Crusade and fight against Turks; and then received the name "Turk". Old villagers say that during World War II, Nazi troops which invaded and destroyed Belgium did not enter Faymonville as they saw Turkish flags in the village. Faymonville has a soccer club named "Turkania" which has a Turkish flag on its emblem. ( Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency )

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