A group of French senators said on Tuesday they had asked the constitutional council to examine a new law that punishes denial of the Armenian genocide, effectively suspending the legislation.

"/> A group of French senators said on Tuesday they had asked the constitutional council to examine a new law that punishes denial of the Armenian genocide, effectively suspending the legislation.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

BOYCOTT

French senators block Armenia genocide law

A group of French senators said on Tuesday they had asked the constitutional council to examine a new law that punishes denial of the Armenian genocide, effectively suspending the legislation.

French senators block Armenia genocide law

Turkey reacted furiously last week when the Senate approved the law which threatens with jail anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces amounted to genocide.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office last Tuesday brushed off angry threats of retaliation by Turkey and vowed to enforce the law within a fortnight.

But the left-wing group of senators said on Tuesday they had gathered 76 signatures from senators opposed to the law, more than the minimum 60 required to ask the council to examine the law’s constitutionality.

The council is obliged to deliver its judgement within a month, but this can be reduced to eight days if the government deems the matter urgent.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the law as “tantamount to discrimination and racism”.

On Tuesday he hailed the French senators’ move, speaking on television.

Erdogan has warned that his Islamist-rooted government would punish Paris with unspecified retaliatory measures if Sarkozy, whose right-wing UMP party initiated the bill, signed it into law.

France has already officially recognised the killings as a genocide, but the new law would go further by punishing anyone who denies this with up to a year in jail and a fine of €45,000 ($57,000).

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in 1915 and 1916 by the forces of Turkey’s former Ottoman Empire.

Turkey disputes the figure, arguing that 500,000 died, and denies this was genocide, ascribing the toll to fighting and starvation during World War I and accusing the Armenians of siding with Russian invaders.

Armenia hailed the passage of the bill through the French Senate, with President Serzh Sarkisian writing in a letter to Sarkozy: “France has reaffirmed its greatness and power, its devotion to universal human values.”


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ISLAM

Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

SHOW COMMENTS