Genocide of 1.5 Million Armenian Christians Recognized by Germany, Turkey Throws Tantrum

US President Barack Obama Still Refuses to Say Slaughter of Christians Was Genocide

People attend a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan, Armenia, April 24, 2015
People attend a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan, Armenia, April 24, 2015 | (Photo: Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

The genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during Wold War I, many of them Christians, has been recognized by the German parliament in a move that prompted Turkey to recall its ambassador in anger.

BBC News reported on Thursday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled the country's ambassador from Germany and has threatened further action.

"We will do whatever is necessary to resolve this issue," Erdogan said.

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Human rights group In Defense of Christians praised the decision by the German parliament, arguing that it stands in solidarity with Christians and others who are being persecuted throughout the Middle East.

"Its recognition of the 1915 massacre of Armenians and other Christians by Ottoman forces as a 'genocide' calls the international community to conscience in the face of the ongoing genocide waged today against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities by the so-called Islamic State," the statement by IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans read.

"With German affirmation of the crime, over 25 countries have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. The brutal campaign of religious and ethnic-cleansing took place between 1915-1917, targeting Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other vulnerable Christian communities, and murdering more than 1 million men, women, and children," Evans added.

She noted that Christians are being targeted by extremist groups throughout the world, and said that it is important to acknowledge the Armenian genocide in order to "strengthen the modern conscience" and to "protect the world from the repetition of similar horrors."

The modern state of Turkey, which formed in the wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, refuses to describe the slaughter of Armenians as a "genocide." It says that ethnic clashes led to the deaths, which it argues were significantly below 1.5 million.

Human rights and persecution watchdog groups have continuously called on the Western world to look at the facts and honor the communities that were killed, however.

"IDC calls upon the entire global community to acknowledge the historic reality of the Ottoman genocide of the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, and other Christian communities, and to work unremittingly to protect religious minorities suffering similar atrocities today," Evans said.

The world marked the 100th year anniversary of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians back in April 2015, which brought together European leaders from across the political spectrum, including French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As the IDC pointed out, U.S. President Barack Obama has refused calls to label the Armenian slaughter as a genocide, mindful not to damage the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, a close NATO ally, though he has recognized the human rights abuses that were committed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has meanwhile sought to soothe tensions between her country and Turkey following the parliament's decision, and said: "There is a lot that binds Germany to Turkey and even if we have a difference of opinion on an individual matter, the breadth of our links, our friendship, our strategic ties, is great."

Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis also called the Armenian massacre "the first genocide of the 20th century" back in April, CNN noted, to which Erdogan again responded by recalling Turkey's ambassador to the Vatican, calling the pope's words "nonsense."

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