Thursday, October 12, 2006

France: Against the Law to Deny Turkish Genocide

From the Times Online:
French MPs have today approved a Bill that makes it a criminal offence to deny that Turkish massacres of Armenians in 1915-17 constituted genocide, causing embarrassment to the French Government and outrage in Turkey.

Deputies in the National Assembly voted 106-19 for the bill, which if signed into law, would punish denial with a maximum one-year prison term and a fine of up to €45,000 (£30,000).

After the vote, the French government stressed that it valued close ties with Turkey and said that it would continue to oppose the motion, which needs to be ratified by the upper house Senate.
Why would the French Assembly pass something so stupid?
Turkey denies accusations of genocide and says that 300,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died in civil strife when Armenia took up arms for independence as the Ottoman Empire fell apart after the First World War.

However, Armenians say that up to 1.5 million of their ancestors were slaughtered in orchestrated killings, which they maintain can only be seen as genocide.

France has one of the largest Armenian communities in Europe, up to 500,000 people, and with elections seven months away many MPs from the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), are not expected to oppose it.
So history gets decided by politicians, at least in France, and people who disagree with the assessment of the politicians get punished by government.

This, of course, isn’t a new idea. It’s long been against the law in many supposedly “civilized” nations to deny the Holocaust. And indeed a fellow named David Irving was locked up in Austria this past February for doing exactly that.

So, if governments can “protect” Jews by dictating an historical orthodoxy with regard to the Holocaust, why can’t they “protect” Armenians?

In the minds of European politicians, they can. At least, when votes are to be gotten by doing that.

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