Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Cemil Çiçek, has made a statement regarding Pope Francis’s words during the commemoration mass held for the victims of the Armenian Genocide, saying “It is unacceptable for someone occupying that seat to cast such slander. What the Pope has done constitutes slander”. President of the Directorate of Religious Affairs Mehmet Görmez, on the other hand, claimed that the Pope had made his statements on the Genocide under the influence of lobbies and PR companies.
Reactions from Ankara continue after Pope Francis said, “The Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century” at the mass held in memory of the victims of the Genocide. The statements of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have been followed by new statements from Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Cemil Çiçek and President of the Directorate of Religious Affairs Mehmet Görmez.
In a statement to Habertürk, Çiçek claimed that the Pope’s words were both ‘slander’ and ‘anti-Islamism’.
“There is such a smear campaign that there are one-sided, unfair assessments like ‘This pain was suffered by the Armenians, everyone else was having a picnic, they did not suffer this pain’. Now the Pope, who should be more fair and objective, has joined in as well. It is unacceptable for someone who occupies that seat to cast a slander that will cause such sorrow to a nation. What the Pope has done is slander, defamation and discrimination. Hate speech is something we complain most about today; racism, hate speech, anti-Islamism. This statement does not only contradict historical facts, but it is also a statement that will trigger such discomforts.”
Speaker of the Grand National Assembly Çiçek added that they had completed their work by meeting with the Turkish Historical Society, and following a long research study, the minutes of the Independence Tribunals (İstiklal Mahkemesi) would be released to the public and researchers.
Görmez: Pope under the influence of political lobbies
Directorate of Religious Affairs Mehmet Görmez also made a statement on Pope Francis’s words on the Armenian Genocide, saying, “It is saddening to see that lobbies have extended as far as the prayers and rituals of religious institutions.” Görmez added, “Personally, I would like to express my deep sadness that a serious religious institution like the Vatican, and a respectable religious figure like the Esteemed Pope Francis have fallen under the influence of such political lobbies, and have expressed, and during prayers and rituals, these unfounded claims against our nation and society that through history has built an ethics and jurisdiction of coexistence and shown this to the world.”