(AP, AFP) - A Turkish group uniting hundreds of businesses and organizations demanded Tuesday that Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies be banned from Turkish television to protest the California governor's use of the term genocide to describe the massacre of Armenians by Turks during World War I.
Schwarzenegger, a former actor best known for his role in "The Terminator," declared April 24 a "Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide." California has one of the largest populations of diaspora Armenians.
An umbrella organization grouping some 300 Ankara-based associations, unions and businesses and led by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce said it launched a petition to have the governor's films banned in Turkey.
"We condemn and protest movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared April 24 a day to commemorate the Armenian genocide and accused Turks of genocide by acting under the influence of the Armenian lobby, and without researching historical truths," read a statement from Sinan Aygun, head of Ankara Chamber of Commerce. "We don't want his films shown in Turkey," said the statement.
In a related move, Turkey said on Monday it would fight mounting international pressure to recognize as genocide the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, urging public agencies and civic groups to launch an "all-out effort" against the damaging allegations.
"It has become inevitable for all state institutions and NGOs, for everybody to (work to) disprove those baseless allegations all over the world," the government spokesman, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, said after a cabinet meeting. "There was no genocide. An all-out effort is needed to expose the lies of those who say it happened," he said.
The cabainet discussed what strategy Turkey should pursue to counter the Armenian allegations that up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen were killed in what was a genocide between 1915 and 1917 and decided to set up, if necessary, a special agency to coordinate such efforts, Cicek said.