Genocide denial law is passed

Denying the Armenian Genocide will be punishable by €45,000 and a year in prison

24 January 2012

A BAN on denying that killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide will be enshrined in French law.

The Senate adopted by 127 votes to 86 a proposed law already passed by the National Assembly to punish by €45,000 and a year in prison anyone who denies or “minimises in an outrageous manner” “a genocide recognised by law”.

In fact the law only relates to the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust denial already being offence under a previous one.

Turkey recalled its ambassador from Paris after the bill was passed by the National Assembly last month and some official visits between the countries were cancelled.

During the debate both Armenians and pro-Turkish demonstrators massed outside, kept separate by gendarmes.

Only the left-wing radicals and greens opposed the law en masse, saying it was not parliament’s role to legislate on such matters. Green senator Esther Benbassa, who lived in Turkey as a child, said: “This law cobbled together in a rush will not help the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey or help bring together the Armenian and Turkish people”.

However supporters of the bill said it was not right there was a law about the Jewish Holocaust, but not one for the Armenian Genocide (recognised as such in France since 2001).

There are half a million French people of Armenian origin in France.

Armenians say that, starting in 1915, the Turks deliberately killed more than a million people of their ethnicity; however Turkey argues that both Armenian Christians and Muslim Turks died in intercommunal violence and there was no systematic plan to eliminate Armenians.

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