French Senate Passes Law on Genocide Denial
The French Senate (above) voted into law a bill that makes denial of the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks a crime. The result has been a flood of commentary, recriminations, congratulations, and questions over the consequences of this new law.
I repeat for the hundredth time that I sympathize fully with the cause of the Armenians, and with their current concerns over the presence of Turks in Europe. But I do not support this law. It means that while many people on a daily basis, in the ghettos and in the Turkish neighborhoods will shout anything they please with impunity about the Armenian genocide, if one white European happens to say something against the Armenians and gets caught he risks a jail sentence or a fine. Such laws are not enforceable. The Gayssot law, which forbids denial of the Holocaust of WWII has not been enforceable for this reason and it has increased the animosity towards the Jews about whom, it would appear, one cannot say anything negative, especially with regard to the Holocaust.
These laws do not bring back the dead, nor do they honor the dead in any way. They are a political expedient in response to demands from the "oppressed" minority or they bolster the image of the government in the eyes of the world. Sarkozy's government is tough, it pulls no punches, it will put you in jail if you deny the genocide. But if you are a North African immigrant, and you decide to burn a few cars, rape a few girls or throw rocks at the police you will receive a slap on the wrist and maybe even some money to go back home to Algeria where you can deposit the money and then return to France through the open-door policy currently in use.
Here is a slightly condensed report from France-Soir, which summarizes the basic information. There may be an attempt to repeal this law through the Constitutional Council:
The outraged reactions grew steadily in number in Turkey on Tuesday after the voting the night before by the French Senate on a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide under the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, Paris appealed to Ankara to remain calm.
The weekly speech by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the deputies of his party was expected to give more details on what type of sanctions against France were being considered.
After the Turkish Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin, denounced "the total lack of respect for Turkey", the Foreign Minister "strongly condemned" on Monday night an "irresponsible act" on the part of France.
On Tuesday, Labor Minister Faruk Celik called Nicolas Sarkozy, who supported the bill, as an assassin of History:
"Sarkozy will go down in History as the man who massacred History"
The Turkish press was unanimous in denouncing blow dealt by France to freedom of opinion:
"Shame on you, France" was the headline of the popular daily Vatan. "France, where the ideal of freedom was born, has dealt the unkindest blow to freedom of expression. By passing the law on denial of the genocide, she has renounced her past."
"President Sarkozy turned his back on freedom and on Turkey, in exchange for a few votes", proclaimed the popular paper Posta.
The widely read paper Hürriyet ran as its headline "He massacred democracy", next to a photo of the French president.
Two papers usually in opposition to each other, the very secular Cumhuriyet and the conservative Islamic Zaman joined voices on Tuesday to denounce "French justice" and an "historic shame" respectively.
These reactions prompted Foreign Minister Alain Juppé to appeal to Turkey for "calm".
"I would like to appeal to our Turkish friends to remain calm and I extend my hand to this "great country, this great economic and political power", declared the minister on the Canal Plus television channel.
The Senate ratified on Monday night a bill already passed through the National Assembly on December 22 that punishes the denial of all genocides recognized by France, including that of the Armenians in 1915, with one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
Turkey refuses the term of genocide, all the while recognizing that massacres were committed and that some 500,000 Armenians perished in Anatolia between 1915 and 1917. The Armenians speak of 1,500,000 dead.
Turkey accused the French president of trying to win over the voters of Armenian origin before the election scheduled for this Spring.
After the vote in the National Assembly, Mr. Erdogan had reacted very angrily, freezing political and military cooperation with France, its ally in NATO, and denouncing a "genocide" committed by the French colonists in Algeria. (…)
New sanctions against France may not be announced until after the promulgation of the law, if indeed it is ratified by the French Constitutional Council, according to the widely distributed daily HaberTürk, quoting sources from within the AKP Party after a meeting Monday night. These sources indicate that Mr. Erdogan has declared his intention not to visit France again, if the law is ratified, so long as Mr. Sarkozy is in power.
Note: In France a law passed by both houses has to be "promulgated" or ratified by the President of the French Republic within two weeks. Only then can it be executed. However, if there is a question about the law, the Constitutional Council must rule on its constitutionality before the President "promulgates" it. If the Council gives the OK, Sarkozy will ratify the law and from that point on it must be executed.
While some say he did this to win Armenian voters, it is more likely he did it to win other voters as well - all those who believe such laws are a sign of the high moral principles of France and her leader. And this may be a substantial chunk of the population.
It will be very interesting to see what Turkey does, and how France tries to soothe the outraged "great" nation.
Below, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.