Sun. 22 - The French parliament passes a draft law making it illegal to deny genocide, sparking outrage in Turkey. Sunita Rappai reports.
The vote that confirms it - France takes the first step towards criminalizing the denial of genocide. After hours of debate, lawmakers in the National Assembly - the lower house of parliament - voted overwhelmingly in favour of the bill which will now be debated next year in the Senate. The controversial draft law includes criminalizing the denial of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks - a move which risks damaging France's relations with Turkey. Several thousand French Turks took to the streets ahead of the vote to protest, with some criticizing French hypocrisy. (SOUNDBITE) (French) AFSAON ALI IN FRENCH YOUNG FRENCH OF TURKISH ORIGIN, SAYING: "The French are not the best placed to be talking about this, we all know what went on in Africa, we know very well what France did in its colonies, and I think that instead of looking at history, the politicians should be looking at the economic crisis and everything." Armenia backed by many historians says about 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in a genocide ordered by Ottoman Turkey during the First World War. Successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks however deny the charges, arguing there was heavy loss of life on both sides. French MP, Valerie Boyer, who initiated the Bill said it was necessary to punish those who denied genocide. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, VALERIE BOYER, INITIATOR OF THE BILL, SAYING: "It was necessary to have this vote on this issue of genocides which are recognized by French law, so that we are able to punish legally those who deny the existence of these crimes and those who insult these crimes." The proposed bill mandates a 45,000 euro fine and a year in jail for offenders. Sunita Rappai, Reuters