It is estimated that one and a half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923, at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, in a genocide (yes, genocide)that is not widely acknowledged even today.
On the 100th anniversary of this tragedy, the US Council of Muslim Organization, an "umbrella" institution that includes CAIR and American Muslims for Palestine in its ranks has issued a press release denying the Armenian genocide, out of fear of alienating Turkey, a "key ally". The US Council calls the Armenian claims "one-sided" , saying that "proper investigation" is needed, adding that any acknowledgment must also recognize "Turkish and Muslim suffering".
The press release issued by Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of USCMO
is reprinted in its entirety below.
Washington, DC, April 19, 2015) — The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) the largest umbrella group of mainstream Muslim American organizations is aware of the painful history of over 30 nations fighting for over 4 years and the loss of over 37 million lives in World War I, including those of the Armenians.
As April 24 comes near, we share the pain suffered by Armenians during this period. We also believe that any acknowledgment by religious or political leaders of the tragedy that befell Armenians should be balanced, constructive and must also recognize Turkish and Muslim suffering.
In this respect, characterizing the events of 1915 as genocide without proper investigation of these events by independent historians will not only jeopardize the establishment of a just memory pertaining to these events, but will also damage the efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.
As 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 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.
While Muslim Americans sympathize deeply with the loss of Armenian lives in 1915, we also believe that reconciliation must take into honest account the broader human tragedy of World War I. Muslim Americans expect our leaders to act accordingly to ensure that American-Turkish strategic relations are not damaged by a one-sided interpretation of the 1915 events.
Founding members of USCMO: American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed).
Pope Francis in a Mass last week in an Armenian Rite mass in St. Peter's Basilica described the massacre of the Armenians the "first genocide of the 20th century, " adding "Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it."
Rather than take the lead towards healing by acknowledging this painful event, the US Council of Muslim Organizations is allowing this wound to fester.