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EU decries passage of French bill on Armenian 'genocide' denial

[JURIST] The European Union (EU) [official website] Friday condemned passage of a French bill [text, in French] making it a crime punishable by imprisonment to deny that the mass killing of Armenians in Turkey [ANI backgrounder] during World War I was genocide. The bill passed France’s lower house [JURIST report] on Thursday but still needs approval by the French Senate and President Jacques Chirac [official profile, in French; BBC profile] to become national law. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso [official profile] said the bill came at a bad time for EU relations with Turkey when the two were engaged in enlargement talks.

French lawmakers attempted to pass the bill [JURIST report] in May 2006, but the legislative session ended before parliament could agree on its terms. When the debate came up again earlier this month, Turkish parliament [official website, in Turkish] threatened retaliation [JURIST report], if French legislation passed the bill, by its passage of a similar bill [JURIST report] labeling as genocide the colonial killings of Algerians [JURIST report] by the French, and making it illegal to deny the French as culpable. France is home to thousands of Armenians and has already recognized the 1915-1919 killings as genocide. Turkish author Orhan Pamuk [JURIST news archive], who won the Nobel Prize for Literature [JURIST report] Thursday, slammed the bill [AFP report] in an interview Friday as going against the French principle of free speech. AP has more.

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