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France senate passes genocide denial ban

The French Senate [official website, in French] on Monday passed a bill that outlaws denial of genocide crimes [materials, in French], including the World War I-era killings of more than one million Armenians by Turkish soldiers. The Senate voted 126-86 [press release, in French] in favor of the bill, despite a Senate committee rejecting the bill [JURIST report] last week and raising constitutionality concerns. The French National Assembly [official website, in French] last month approved the bill [JURIST report], which imposes a one-year prison term, a 45,000-euro fine, or both, on individuals who publicly trivialize or deny genocide crimes. The measure has sparked animosity in Turkey, which does not classify the killings as a genocide. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [official website, in Turkish] Tuesday criticized the French parliament [Reuters report] and the proposed law, calling it "discriminatory and racist." The bill now moves to French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive] for final approval before becoming law.

The Armenian genocide is also a contentious issue in US law and politics. In November the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] decided to revisit a case [JURIST report] to determine whether a California law declaring Armenian genocide in Turkey conflicts with US foreign policy. In August 2010 a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit [official website] unanimously dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the exclusion of materials questioning the Armenian genocide from a school curriculum. In March 2010 the Obama administration announced its opposition to a resolution [JURIST report] labeling the World War I-era killings as genocide. The announcement came after the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed the resolution [JURIST report] by a vote of 23-22. Erdogan condemned the resolution, and the Turkish government recalled its ambassador to the US.


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