The French parliament approved a bill on Monday making it illegal to deny that mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early twentieth century were genocide. In response, Turkey threatened a total rupture of diplomatic ties with France–a NATO ally. Reuters reports lawmakers passed the bill in France’s upper house by a 127 to 86 margin. While the bill speaks in general to the denial of any genocide, it is seen in Turkey as a direct insult, and a bid by French president Nicolas Sarkozy to win the votes of 500,000 ethnic Armenians in France. Armenia says 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the first World War under genocidal policies of the Ottoman Empire in what is now eastern Turkey; many historians agree, but most Turks strongly object to the use of the term “genocide” to describe the killings. President Sarkozy is expected to ratify the bill before the end of February.
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