(CNSNews.com) -- Although historians have documented and numerous governments have recognized the genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks against the Christian Armenians, which killed an estimated 1.5 million people between 1915 and 1923, an Egyptian cleric recently declared on Turkish television that the Armenian genocide is "a lie," and that Muslims have never committed mass atrocities against any group.
Egyptian cleric Sheikh Sharif Abadi said in an interview on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Watan TV channel that, “We [Muslims] have never perpetrated a racial massacre. We have never laid siege on a certain group and kill, let's say, all the Jews.” (The interview was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI.)
When the interviewer asked Abadi, “So why do people say that the Ottoman Caliphate perpetrated a massacre against the Armenians?” he said, “It is a lie. The Armenians are the ones who betrayed [the Ottomans]. There is a historical story behind it, but [the massacre] never happened. It is a lie fabricated by the British in order to topple the Ottoman Caliphate.”
Abadi then asked, “Are you saying that we had refrained from perpetrating racial massacres for 14 centuries, just to carry one out in the final two years of the Caliphate? Does this even make sense? It's a lie.”
“There was no racial massacre of the Armenians,” he declared. “They are the ones who started it. They are the ones who betrayed us. They are the ones who killed Muslims and burned mosques.”
Sharif Abadi further claimed, “We have never perpetrated a racial massacre or killed women and children…. The third thing is that we have never forced anyone to convert to Islam.”
In its “Overview” article on the “Armenian Genocide of 1915,” the New York Times wrote, “There were executions into mass graves, and death marches of men, women and children across the Syrian desert to concentration camps with many dying along the way of exhaustion, exposure and starvation.”
The New York Times went on to note that the massacre of the Armenians was well documented at the time, and that even though the Ottoman Empire’s “ally, Germany, was silent at the time, in later years documents have surfaced from ranking German diplomats and military officers expressing horror at what was going on.”
“[T] there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922,” wrote The Times.
Henry Morgenthau Sr., a U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, wrote in his 1918 memoir Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact…. I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.”
President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a letter to Cleveland Hoadley Dodge on May 11, 1918, that “the Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey is to condone it….”
President Jimmy Carter said on May 16, 1978, “It is generally not known in the world that, in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren't any Nuremberg trials.”
On April 22, 1981, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation that read, “Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it, ... the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”
On Feb. 19, 2005, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans said, "Today I shall call this Armenian genocide". "I think that we, the US government, owe you, our fellow citizens, a more straightforward and honest discussion of this problem. I can tell you as a person who has studied this problem - I have no doubts about what happened." "I think that it is inappropriate for us, the Americans, to play with words in this case". "I believe that we must call a spade a spade."
In 2015, Pope Francis said the Armenian genocide was “considered the first genocide of the 20th century,” and he reaffirmed that position in 2016 despite strong opposition from Turkey.
A British report that defined the actions of the Ottoman empire against the Armenians as genocide was accepted by the United Nations in 1985 and noted by a U.N. resolution.
The International Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution in 1997 that declared the actions of the Ottomans against the Armenians as genocide.
In 2015, the European Parliament officially declared the Ottoman actions as genocide. The Council of Europe had done the same back in 2001.
Other groups (and governments) who have declared the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Turks against the Armenians as genocide include the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the World Council of Churches, the Latin American Parliament, the Dutch Parliament, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Germany and France.
Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.