Turkey Warns France over 'Racist' Genocide Bill

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Turkey is urging French President Nicolas Sarkozy not to sign a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago constituted genocide.

France's parliament approved the genocide bill late Monday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the decision "racist," and within hours of the vote his countrymen were reacting.

"I condemn France. I'm boycotting all things French and I'm not buying any French products," said Recep Ayanoglu, a resident of Istanbul.

"I think our country should retaliate for this action," Istanbul teacher Irfan Canturk added.

Historians say around 1.5 million Christians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during World War I, and was the 20th Century's first genocide.

Armenians claim the 1915 killings were part of a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman Turk government.

Turkey has denied the charge for years and has said many Turks also died as the Ottoman Turk Empire disintegrated.

In Armenia's capital city of Yerevan, citizens awoke Tuesday morning to the news that the French had voted 127-86 to pass the bill.

"This day will be written in gold not only in the history of friendship between the Armenian and French peoples, but also in the annals of the history of the protection of human rights worldwide," said Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

Under the measure, anyone who denies the killings were genocide will be jailed up to a year and fined around $57,000.

Twenty countries including Germany, Sweden, Russia and Canada recognize the violent acts in 1915 as genocide. Forty-three U.S. states have done so as well.

The bill requires Sarkozy's signature in the next 15 days to become law.

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