On April 19, 2015, the United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) penned a press release regarding “the tragedy that befell Armenians” in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Rather than call the tragedy what it was, a genocide, USMCO is calling for the characterization of those events to be “balanced, constructive and also recognize Turkish and Muslim suffering.” Among the supporters of this release are American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). I have rarely been so disappointed with what many consider the leadership of the American-Muslim community as I am in this moment.
April 24, 2015 will be the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and rather than stand for justice, rather than stand up in solidarity with our Armenian brethren, USCMO is playing politics — and the wrong side of politics, too. USMCO says “[a]s Americans, we are concerned about alienating a key ally, Turkey, through one-sided declarations that political and religious leaders have made on this subject. The events of 100 years ago should be based on a consensus among historians and academicians with access to archives and documents from that era.” As Americans, as human beings, what we should be concerned about is upholding justice for all, not about “alienating a key ally.”
If the USCMO needs a history lesson, we are happy to give them one. Armenians faced violence and discrimination at the hands of the Ottoman Empire well before 1915. In the late 1800s, animosity towards the Armenian populations shaped into state sanctioned violence. In response to major protests by the Armenians seeking basic civil rights, the Turkish military as well as Turkish civilians ransacked Armenian cities and massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians.
During World War I, Armenians supported the Allied Powers, particularly Russia, to fight against the Turks in the Caucasus region that is their ancestral home. This, combined with the disdain the Turks already had for the Armenians, led the Turkish government to “remove” the Armenians. April 24, 1915, is widely considered the beginning of the Armenian genocide. On that day the Turkish government arrested and subsequently executed hundreds of Armenian intellectuals. Armenian Civilians were then sent on death marches through the dessert; they were often forced to walk naked under the scorching dessert sun until they died. Anyone who stopped walking was shot. As one historian notes:
“Rape and beating were commonplace. Those who were not killed at once were driven through mountains and deserts without food, drink or shelter. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians eventually succumbed or were killed.”
The Turkish government created a special organization, which then created killing squads for the purpose of liquidating the Armenian community. They killed Armenians in abhorrently violent ways all over the Turkish countryside. Killing squads also kidnapped Armenian children and gave them to Turkish families. Turkish-Muslims moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property; Armenians were never compensated for this.
In 1922, when the massacring was over, the Armenian populations had been decimated. What started out as a population of over two million, was slaughtered until less than 400,000 Armenians remained in the Ottoman Empire.
The Turkish government still denies that genocide took place. They justify the killing of the Armenian population as a culling of an enemy force, a measure necessary during wartime. Because Turkey is an important ally for western interests, especially the United States, western nations generally refuse to acknowledge it as genocide. However, contrary to what USMCO may believe, many historians, with “access to archives and documents from that era” have characterized the massacre of the Armenians as genocide.
USMCO says that “as the only Muslim-majority member of NATO and current President of the G-20 Summit, Turkey has taken on a unique regional and global leadership role in ensuring peace and prosperity for all. Our government has been closely cooperating with the Turkish government on defeating ISIS while also alleviating the suffering of Syrian refugees.” They are referencing Turkey’s prominent place in geopolitics as if that role absolves it of responsibility for the mass murder of 1.5 million human beings. USMCO talks about “reconciliation” but they fail to recognize that true reconciliation can only occur if it is rooted in honesty and responsibility, something Turkey has staunchly refused. Additionally, when did we, as American-Muslims, stop holding perpetrators of injustice accountable for their actions? When did leadership and power become acceptable excuses for denial of past crimes and for the perpetration of further harm?
By placing the American-Turkish political relationship above honesty and justice, USMCO has sent a message that the American-Muslim community does not stand in solidarity with other oppressed populations. Rather, it has shown that the American-Muslim community places political interests above what is right. Failing to hold Turkey accountable is a transparent attempt to support a Muslim majority country at the expense of the ideals many Muslims pride themselves for; honesty, compassion, and justice. I reject USMCO’s statement. They do not represent me, and they do not represent millions of Muslims who stand in solidarity with our Armenian brethren.
Please sign our open letter to the USCMO condemning their statement on the Armenian genocide, here.
Because this issue has turned into one where different sides are attempting to cast history in one way or another, I see the temptation to write a historical piece. However, if one is going to venture into that providing some support for this story seems appropriate. I understand this isnt an academic platform, but how are people who don’t really know that history well supposed to honestly come out in one way or another? Especially when the only citation is to an oped written by John Kifner who was not even a historian!
Historical consensus was that this was a genocide, following the Heroro genocide, that the Armenian genocide was one of the earliest in the 20th century. The term genocide was coined to describe what happened to the Armenians. I think the only historians that would contest the designation are Turkish historians, who tend to have a nationalist bent. The politics of not calling things a genocide is basically what allowed the US and UN to cowardly back out of Rwanda and let nearly a million people die.
While I commend the writer, I cannot help but believe that the Quran itself justified the Turks genocide of the Christians. Even today, the Turks deny their culpability, based upon their attempt to re-write history to say that it never happened, but couldn’t it also be their fidelity to the Quran, that Armenians were subhuman infidels, not deserving of an apology?
But yet where did motivation for Circassian genocide done by Russian orthodox christians come I gather. I find it Bibical maybe, you tell me. but couldn’t it also be their fidelity to the Bible and only truelord Jesus, that circassians were subhuman infidels, not deserving of an apology or right to return to their homeland maybe? ON SIDE NOTE INFIDEL-Infidel is an ecclesiastical term in Christianity around which the Church developed a body of theology that deals with the concept of infidelity, which makes a clear differentiation between those who were baptized and followed the teachings of the Church versus those who are outside the faith. The term infidel was used by Christians to describe those perceived as the enemies of Christianity. Stop living in fantasy. Everyone is responsible for what they did. Bickering and finger pointing is not gonna get us anywhere. Let us relax for a second and honestly apologize for all wrongs we have doneto each other. Turkey must apologize period, so does Russia for circassian genocide
I’m still waiting for Muslims to apologize for Mohammed’s predations against the Jews and Christians in what even today is known as the Holy Land, forcing conversions under the threat of the sword, and in Spain and the rest of Europe, where his successors did the same thing. The souls of Christians and Jews cry out for justice, apologies for what Mohammed did in the name of his Quran, before the Christian crusades, their response to the purging of the peaceful Christians who once dominated that region, and in response to Muslim defilement of Christian holy places. Muslims have never renounced their goal of fulfilling Quranic destiny, to make the world Islamic, despite its wishes. Hell will likely freeze over before they do.
The souls of Christians and Jews cry out for justice, apologies for what Mohammed did in the name of his Quran, before the Christian crusades, their response to the purging of the peaceful Christians who once dominated that region, and in response to Muslim defilement of Christian holy places. VERY GOOD HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE. NO WONDER THERE ARE CHURCHES STILL LEFT IN LEBANON WHILE NONE LEFT IN SPAIN AND SICILY OR SERBIA OR BOSNIA FOR THAT MATTER. Christians aren’t stupid,thats not the problem the problem is some muslimsare not stupid either. And for prophet muhammad on christians read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashtiname_of_Muhammad AND YET OFCOURSE FOR CHRISTIANS THIS SEEMS TO BE A FORGERY(HOW CONVINIENT OF YOU PEOPLE) WHILE TAFSIR AL KABIR IS LEGIT.
And what about old testament. Is it not christian, it very well seems that it is integral part of christianity(according to Jesus atleast). Have you read Mathews. Had Jesus himself not clarified that he has not come to change the old testament you post modernist christians would have shrugged off all responsibility for all wrongs you did in the past and even present under name of christianity. Now coming back to main point history is clear thateven though armenians still exist in Lebanon and even Syria as well as Egypt, 90 percent of Circassians were completly expelledfrom home. Well recent Bosnian massacre as well as rape(which you deny being good christians by serb orthodoxy as you killed only boys NOT TRUE -_- ) as well as others. The Quran reminds me of Mein Kempf, Hitler’s manifesto. -_-. Bible reminds me of Quran too does that mean its Mein kemph. Joshua, Adventures of Moses, Daughters of Lot, servitude of women as a requirement by jesus. Its loaded.
The souls of Christians and Jews cry out for justice, apologies for what Mohammed did in the name of his Quran, before the Christian crusades, their response to the purging of the peaceful Christians who once DOMINATED that region. Guess what ho dominated that region BEFORE CHRISTIANITY, Pagans and jews. Whom your byzantines ruled wwith great sense of justice of course. If that was not even the case have you heard of Great Schism of that period. I hope you have heard. Christians killed each other for differences of opinion. Yet ofcourse they were true to the Lords commandments(and did not tolerate ANY DEVIANCE) unlike you Gummy Bear christians. Orthodoxy does not even consider western christians as christians what do you say to that. forcing conversions under the threat of the sword Northern crusades(NOT MUSLIMS HERE), French wars of religion(not muslims here), Goa inquisition(no muslims here), Spanish inquisition(NO MUSLIMS HERE ALMOST VERY SMALL), Salem witch trials (no muslims here), genocide in australia, america and to certain extent Africe(surprisingly no muslims here either), Ethnic violence in Rome between pagans and christians(no muslims here either) and list goes on. We muslims were lucky if I say so.
You conveniently forget two things, that Christianity has changed, and that Islam never changes. The same violent path Mohammed took is still taken by Muslims today. We’re not talking about the history of centuries ago, but the history made today by Muslims, Sunni vs Shia, ISIS, et al. Nothing you’ve said is relevant to today. Nothing you could say mitigates the evil that Islam promulgates today.
The Quran never justified the killing of any innocent human.
It’s like Bill Clinton’s “depends upon what the meaning of is, is”. If one simply defines “innocent human” as only including the set of humans known as Muslims, one really isn’t innocent if one isn’t. That’s exactly how Hitler viewed Jews, and how many Muslims today view them and the rest of us. History shows that Mohammed killed tens of thousands of “innocents” and enslaved and treated others as subhumans by taxing them to line his and his followers pockets. Tell me how he comes anywhere close to the Christ of the New Testament in his humanity? The Islam of ISIS comes closest to fidelity with Mohammed’s Islam.
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