French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked the government to prepare a new law on criminalizing genocide denial. The call came less than an hour after the French Constitutional Council issued a statement on February 28, 2012, considering the bill penalizing the denial of genocides unconstitutional with the argument that it curbs freedom of speech.
The bill would have rendered punishable the denial of genocides France has officially recognized, like the Armenian Genocide. France already has a law in place penalizing Holocaust denial.
Turkey welcomed the ruling of the Constitutional Council. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the cabinet would meet to consider restarting contacts with France, which were frozen after the French parliament passed the bill on January 23, reported Reuters.
On February 1, Sarkozy vowed to redraft a law that criminalizes the denial of the Armenian Genocide, if the country’s highest judicial body finds an earlier version unconstitutional. While making the statement, Sarkozy reportedly criticized those in cabinet who had opposed the bill, saying they “did not see past the ends of their noses.”
He also said a rejection of the bill by the Constitutional Council could open the door to questioning a law that penalizes denial of the Holocaust.