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French Lower House OKs Genocide-Denial Ban


Members of a pro-government labor union demonstrate outside the French Embassy in Ankara over the proposed French law.

Members of a pro-government labor union demonstrate outside the French Embassy in Ankara over the proposed French law.

France's lower house has passed by a large majority a bill that would make it a crime to deny examples of genocide as defined by the French state.

France formally recognized the Armenian mass killings at the twilight of the Ottoman Empire as "genocide" in 2001 but imposed no penalty for those denying it.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where its chances of passage remain unclear.

Turkey responded by saying it was recalling its ambassador to Paris, after warning that passing the measure would damage bilateral ties.

There was no official vote count in the balloting in France's National Assembly, where lawmakers voted with a show of hands.

The bill sets a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($60,000) for those who deny or "outrageously minimize" instances of genocide.

French government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse reiterated on December 21 that the move applies to all genocides and is not specifically about the Armenian killings.

On the eve of the debate, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned he would announce the first of his country's retaliatory measures on December 22.

"We will have sets of measures. My speech tomorrow, with great likelihood, will be about what we will do according to the first phase and we will announce what kind of sanctions we will have according to the second and third phases," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.

Most historians agree the killing of some 1.5 million Christian Armenians in what is now eastern Turkey during World War I was a deliberate policy of genocide by the Ottoman Empire.

Lawmakers in at least 20 countries have passed resolutions backing Armenia's version of events.

Ankara, however, says many Muslim Turks and Kurds were killed as well when Russian troops invaded eastern Anatolia, with the aid sometimes of Armenian militias.

compiled from agency reports

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