The French Constitutional Council struck down a proposed law that would have attached severe penalties to denial of the Armenian genocide. The draft law, the Council decided, violated the French constitution. We can learn several things from this episode.First, France remains a republic that respects civil liberties and the rule of law. Those running afoul of the proposed law would have faced a year in prison and a fine up to €45,000. The Council, which reviews the constitutionality of laws before they take effect (rather than after, as does the American Supreme Court) was right to identify these draconian penalties as an attack on liberty.Second, Sarkozy has been exposed as an unprincipled political hack. Apparently he is so desperate to pander to the Armenian lobby in France as to ride roughshod over important principles of the French constitution, at severe cost to the national interest.Finally, Turkey now appears hypocritical. Turks rejoiced in the good sense of the French court, even as a bill advanced that would make it a crime, with grave penalties, to use the word “genocide” to describe the vicious massacres of Armenians after 1915. This is part of an ugly history of violence and persecution that Turks have yet to face. Turkey should be ashamed that it has not come to terms with this history, and also that its constitution has less respect for liberty than that of France. Many Turks know this and are humiliated by their country’s stand on this issue. Let’s hope the Council’s decision will inspire similar common sense in Turkey.
France Strikes Down Armenian Genocide Denial Law
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