October 12, 2006

Turkey vs. France. And the Kurds.

France's lower parliamentary house just passed a bill that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks. As the article notes, though the bill may not become law because it isn't scheduled for debate in the other house, it appears to reflect widespread French opposition to allowing Turkey to become a member of the E.U. The article also discusses the influence of the Armenian lobby in France, though I hardly suspect they account for the totality of French sentiment against Turkish E.U. entry. Turks demonstrated against this action outside the French embassy and there's a report that if the law is actually passed, there are Turks who plan to go to France for the purpose of violating it and submitting to arrest.

As linked yesterday from Culture Kitchen, it's a crime in Turkey to say that there was an Armenian genocide. At the time of Lorraine's writing, the bill was still in the speculative phase. Even from my limited awareness of European law, such a thing isn't actually unprecedented. The U.K. bans the import of violent movies, including some that have been blockbusters in the U.S. and Germany prohibits both Holocaust denial and organizing or advocating for any sort of neo-Nazi groups.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan called the bill a "mental lapse ... about a historical fiction."

The reaction of this Turkish editorialist was to respond with a recounting of France's actions in Algeria and their inaction/instigation in Rwanda in 1994. The last was interesting, because I've never heard it suggested before that France was responsible for the horror of Rwanda anymore than all the other western nations that sat on their thumbs. But that's what the article claims and I thought it was interesting to know that there are people who think it.

Though it may have been more responsive to current events for the French to make some sort of comment on the conflict between Turkey and the 10 million ethnic Kurds living there. The issue definitely crosses their borders, with Turkey having said before the Iraq war that they were willing to invade northern Iraq to prevent Kurds getting their hands on the oil fields of Mosul and Kirkuk. They are definitely opposed to the Kurds setting up an independent state that would then have even more leverage to encourage dissent among Turkish Kurds and support the Kurdish separatists in Turkey that freely cross the borders from Iraq into Turkey, whom the U.S. continues to take pains to condemn.

Meanwhile, one of Secretary Rice's stops in Iraq included a meeting with Kurdish leaders whom she encouraged to remain as part of Iraq, even as the foundations for partition have been laid. At any rate, there are probably less than two Friedmans remaining before Iraq descends into an even worse state of chaos and ethnic strife, at which point it would be hard to predict what neighbors like Turkey, or Syria and Iran for that matter, would do. The French won't be able to pass laws recognizing the various genocides fast enough.

Posted by natasha at October 12, 2006 06:10 AM | International | Technorati links |

My only question: Does the word "Friedmans" need a capital letter? Or has it passed into the lowercase vernacular?

Posted by: KathyF at October 13, 2006 12:30 AM

Well, it has got an entry in the Urban Dictionary, so one could certainly make an argument for lower-casing it. It might perhaps be less confusing, more of a cue that you were using a slang term instead of committing an egregious grammatical assault on a proper noun.

Posted by: natasha at October 13, 2006 12:35 AM