As I mentioned earlier, I'm delighted that the Pope declared the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians to be a genocide. The evidence certainly suggests that it was.
Was it also a Jihad?
Jeff Jacoby suggests it had some pretty strong similarities to modern-day jihads.
Speaking at the Vatican during a Sunday Mass to mark the centenary of the slaughter, the pope said it is “widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century” — a quote from Pope John Paul II, who used nearly the same words in 2001. But Francis went further, equating the destruction of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet bloodbaths under Stalin. And he linked the genocidal Ottoman assault on Armenia, the world’s oldest Christian nation, with the epidemic of violence against Christians today, especially by such radical Islamist terror groups as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab. ...
Talaat Pasha, the powerful Ottoman interior minister during World War I, certainly didn’t disguise his objective. “The Government . . . has decided to destroy completely all the indicated [Armenians] persons living in Turkey,” he brusquely reminded officials in Aleppo in a September 1915 dispatch. “An end must be put to their existence . . . and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples.” ...
That key fact is one the pope, to his credit, refuses to downplay: Armenians were victims not only of genocide, but also of jihad. In imploring his listeners on Sunday to hear the “muffled and forgotten cry” of endangered Christians who today are “ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland,” Francis was reminding the world that the price of irresolution in the face of determined Islamist violence is as steep as ever.
The jihadists of 1915 murdered “bishops and priests, religious women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm.” The world knew what was happening; the grisly details were extensively reported at the time. Just as they are now, and with as little effect.
However, see this from today's NYTimes, which agrees the conflict was between Muslims and Armenians, but which also highlights the political (more than the religious) nature of the genocide:
“They threw them in that hole, all the men,” said Vahit Sahin, 78, sitting at a cafe in the center of the village, reciting the stories that have passed through generations.
Mr. Sahin turned in his chair and pointed toward the monastery. “That side was Armenian.” He turned back. “This side was Muslim. At first, they were really friendly with each other.”
A hundred years ago, amid the upheaval of World War I, this village and countless others across eastern Anatolia became killing fields as the desperate leadership of the Ottoman Empire, having lost the Balkans and facing the prospect of losing its Arab territories as well, saw a threat closer to home.
Worried that the Christian Armenian population was planning to align with Russia, a primary enemy of the Ottoman Turks, officials embarked on what historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century: Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, some in massacres like the one here, others in forced marches to the Syrian desert that left them starved to death.
The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War.