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Armenian Americans Call for Cancellation of Disney Atatürk Series

Atatürk , pictured c. 1918. Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on Disney to cancel its upcoming series about the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the modern Turkish state.

The ANCA accused Dinsey of glorifying a “dictator and genocide killer”. Meanwhile, Turkish media called the response “reactionary”.

The series is scheduled for release on October 29 this year, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. Disney has made no indication that it will consider canceling the series.

Armenian American community critical of Disney over Atatürk series

“Calling on@DisneyPlus to cancel its series glorifying Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – a Turkish dictator and genocide killer with the blood of millions of #Greek #Armenian #Assyrian #Chaldean #Syriac #Aramean #Maronite and other #Christian martyrs on his hands,” posted the ANCA on Twitter this Thursday.

According to its official website, the ANCA “is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization.” The organization, which is headquartered in Washington D.C., “actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.”

The ANCA further claimed that “Half of Turkish Twitter is desperately denying Atatürk was a genocidal killer. The other half is joyfully celebrating that Atatürk was a genocidal killer.”

One Turkish media platform, Turkish Series TV, called the reaction of the Armenian diaspora to the upcoming series “reactionary”.

The controversy surrounding the Dinsey Atatürk series highlights the intensity of longstanding grievances, which have never been fully addressed since the Armenian genocide, as well as the Pontian Greek, and Assyrian genocides.

The Armenian genocide

The Armenian genocide was the systematic massacre and forced deportation of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, during and after the First World War.

As of 2023, the governments and parliaments of 34 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, and the United States, have formally recognized the Armenian genocide.

Turkey, and its close ally Azerbaijan, as well as Pakistan, deny that the genocide took place. According to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Infusing history with myth, Armenian Americans vilify the Republic of Türkiye, Turkish Americans, and ethnic Turks worldwide.”

“Armenians bent on this prosecution choose their evidence carefully, omitting all evidence that tends to exonerate those whom they presume guilty, ignoring important events and verifiable accounts, and sometimes relying on dubious or prejudiced sources and even falsified documents,” the ministry continues.

Beyond a merely historical dispute, the Armenian genocide and the contention surrounding it remains an important factor in diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, as well as a point of potential friction between the Armenian and Turkish diasporas in various other countries.

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