French top court rules Armenian genocide denial is not a crime

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A picture taken on February 21, 2012 shows the French Conseil Constitutionnel (Constitutional council) building in Paris, as it decides today on the anonymity of signatures from mayors and other elected officials for the upcoming 2012 French presidential election. French law stipulates that candidates who wants to qualify for the presidential election need to gather 500 signatures from mayors or local officials from at least 30 districts across France. The Constitutional Court, France’s highest court, validates the 500 endorsements about a month before the first round of the elections. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON / AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON

France’s Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday that parts of an Armenian genocide denial act is an “unnecessary and disproportionate attack against freedom of speech” and rescinded the law, which described the denial of the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as a “hate crime.”

This ruling causes uncertainty regarding expressions and comments on historical matters. Thereby, this ruling is an unnecessary and disproportionate attack against freedom of speech,” the council said.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in World War I but rejects claims that up to 1.5 million died, and denies the killings were orchestrated and constituted a genocide.

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