France to Host Rally in Support Of Genocide Bill

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PARIS (PanARMENIAN.Net, AFP) — The Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF) urged all French people upholding principles of democracy and humanity to join a peaceful rally on January 23 to support the bill penalizing Armenian Genocide denial.

On December 22, 2011, the French National Assembly passed a bill criminalizing public denial of the Armenian Genocide. If passed and signed into law by the Senate, the bill would impose a 45,000-euro fine and a year in prison for anyone in France who denies this crime against humanity committed by the Ottoman Empire.

The Genocide bill will be debated at French Senate on January 23.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition party said Friday it had appealed to France’s socialist leader over French plans for a law that reinforces the view of Turkey’s Ottoman-era massacre of Armenians as genocide.

In a letter to Francois Hollande, the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) denounced the French bill, which would outlaw denial that the 1915-17 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces amounted to genocide.

Hollande is the Socialist Party’s contender in the French presidential elections later this year.

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“If the French parliament insists on voting through anti-Turk and unconstitutional laws,’ it could cause serious damage not just to France’s image but also that of the European Union…,” said the letter.

CHP chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu wrote directly to Hollande amid a growing diplomatic row between the countries over the bill.

Passing it into law “would provoke an unprecedented crisis” between the two countries, he wrote.

Copies of the letter also went to other leading socialists including the president of the Senate, Jean-Pierre Bel.

French senators will debate the bill on January 23 and if passed, it would go to President Nicolas Sarkozy for approval. France’s lower house, the national assembly, approved the bill last month.

“The Turks cannot believe that the country of Voltaire and Diderot would want to trample over freedom of expression…,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Ankara has already hit back by freezing political and military ties with Paris.