Irvine Mayor’s efforts to repair relations with Armenian community could lead to memorial, school curriculum

A memorial to Armenian Genocide could be erected in Irvine. Mayor Farrah Khan has said she will support finding a place in the city, Orange County Register reports.

When a video surfaced in March of Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan joking and laughing during a meeting in 2020 with representatives of local Turkish groups, it sparked a furor among some community members who noted among the party a man who has been outspoken in denying the Armenian Genocide.

Residents penned letters and turned up at City Council meetings to voice their outrage. An Armenian group denounced the county Democratic Party for its early endorsement in Khan’s 2022 mayoral race.

In demand letters penned to the public and Khan, an immediate apology from the mayor was requested, along with a pledge to distance herself from anyone who has denied the genocide and for her support for teaching public school students about the history of the carnage.

Khan and Armenian community members have since met and it could mean an Armenian Genocide memorial is constructed in Irvine – Khan said she will support finding a place in the city. She’s also agreed to approach the Irvine Unified school board about coordinating training for educators on teaching about the genocide. And, at an April City Council meeting, she said she donated $1,500 to the Genocide Education Project.

The mayor remains steadfast that discussions at the meeting, which she said was one of many held with community members after her 2020 mayoral win, did not touch on the Armenian Genocide, as some have said.

She promised to cut ties with anyone critical that the genocide occurred.

“I’m really hoping for that professional report to come out to kind of put to rest the idea that people are calling me a racist and that I’m denying the genocide or saying that Armenians should disappear,” Khan said.

Violet Bulujian, chair of the Orange County chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, said seeing the video was a gut-punch.

“To say that we were outraged is an understatement,” said Bulujian, who added that she represents the area’s Armenian community.

“If you imagine the Democratic mayor attending a meeting that was hosted by Holocaust deniers, and that mayor says, ‘I pledged to stand with you no matter what,’ and then laughs along with them, that would not be tolerated, under no circumstances,” Bulujian said.

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