US Muslim group urges avoiding ‘one-sided’ interpretation of 1915 events

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SHAFAQNA – The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest umbrella group of mainstream Muslim American organizations, has called on the US leadership to act accordingly to ensure that American-Turkish strategic relations are not damaged by a one-sided interpretation of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule at the end of World War I.

USCMO issued a statement on Sunday saying that “…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.”

Pope Francis’ recent description of the 1915 events as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” and the European Parliament’s adoption of a resolution acknowledging the 1915 events as “genocide” have prompted a debate on the mass killings and deportations of Armenians at the end of World War I. Turkish government officials and opposition parties have criticized the pope and the EP for their moves and called it a “one-sided approach,” adding that Muslims had also been killed in that period.

USCMO stated that it shares the pain suffered by Armenians during this period but it also believes 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,” during that period.

US President Barack Obama is expected to issue a statement on April 24 on the 1915 events as every US president does traditionally. He is not expected to describe the events as genocide in his official statement on April 24 according to the sources in Washington. But the worsening relationship between Turkey and the US due to Turkey’s reluctance to contribute to the fight against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have increased the worries on the Turkish side that Obama may also describe the events as genocide.

The USCMO statement continued: “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.”

USCMO highlighted that Turkey is the only Muslim-majority member of NATO and current president of the G-20, as well as a key partner for the US to defeat ISIL and a host country for Syrian refugees who fled from the Syrian civil war.

The organization stated that while Muslim Americans sympathize deeply with the loss of Armenian lives in 1915, they also believe that reconciliation must take into honest account the broader human tragedy of World War I.

Source : Todys Zaman

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