Friday, October 13, 2006

A crime to deny the Armenian genocide?

The French Parliament voted yesterday to make it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide committed by the Turks between 1915-17. The killings happened during the First World War and while the Turkish government continues, rather half-heartedly, to pretend they never happened, or at least were not a genocide, the evidence is compelling. At first sight the Parliament's vote might seem a good idea. The French Armenian community welcomed it, after all.

The French Socialists who backed the vote, have interests closer to home, and much less noble. They are trying to win anti-Turkish feeling, which is already strong in France. The French, who consider themselves the architects of the European Union, generally do not support Turkey's hope of joining the club they feel they founded. And yet to exclude Turkey would only reinforce the divide between East and West, already so visible elsewhere. The socialists of course, also fear cheap Turkish labour taking jobs in France. where unemployment is obstinately high. This low motive, not high morality, lies behind the law.

Turkey's ongoing refusal to admit the killings were systematic is ridiculous, agreed. But far better to do what else happened yesterday and award the leading Turkish novelist and historian, Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pamuk has already publicly talked about the genocide, which is a crime in Turkey. But he is too famous to be imprisoned, and other novelists put on trial for doing the same have also been acquitted. This approach of praising the freedom of speech, and not a law which does the opposite, is the way to safeguard the truth.

1 comment:

Tommy G said...

Welcome to the blogosphere.

I think you'll like it here.