PRAYER ALERT: Sunday April 12 was the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Islamic Ottoman Turks. Pope Francis called on Turkey and the international community to recognize it as “the first genocide of the 20th century.” Turkey continues to be essentially Muslim, now at 97%. Armenia continues to be essentially Christian, at 94%. The pope said that similar massacres are now being perpetrated against Christians. Because of their faith they are “publicly and ruthlessly put to death—decapitated, crucified, burned alive—or forced to leave their homelands.” This is happening frequently in Syria and Iraq, Turkey’s neighbors. But Turkey is doing little to stop it. In fact Turkey is the main gateway for foreigners who are joining ISIS’ genocidal campaigns.
After Pope Francis’ speech, the European Union urged Turkey and Armenia to take steps toward reconciliation. How did Turkey respond? By recalling its ambassador to the Vatican. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted, “The pope’s statement, which is far from historic and legal truths, is unacceptable. Religious positions are not places where unfounded claims are made and hatred is stirred.” Though Turkey has 1.5 million skeletons in its closet, it continues to deny the Armenian genocide. But 100 years later, those skeletons are coming out of the closet. The world is calling Turkey to account.
Turkey has avoided peace moves with other old enemies, such as the Catholic Church and the Kurds. When Pope Francis visited Turkey in November, he made significant gestures of peace there with the head of the Orthodox Church and the Muslim mufti of Istanbul. The pope also thanked Turkish President Recep Ergodan for allowing more than two million refugees from Syria and Iraq into Turkey. But the pope’s visit was blighted by Erdogan’s paranoid comment on all visitors to Muslim lands. “They look like friends, but they want us dead. They like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact? Only we can solve our problems. I speak openly; foreigners love oil, gold, diamonds, and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world. They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East.”
Quite the contrary. The West has urged reconciliation between Turkey and not only Armenia to the east, but the Kurds in southeastern Turkey. There Kurds comprise the majority of the population. They are having remarkable success fighting ISIS in nearby Kurdish Syria. Turkey has joined the alliance against ISIS. But does Turkey really want to defeat ISIS forces? Or does it plan to exploit them?
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