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Turkey angered by French bill to criminalize 'Armenian genocide denial'

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(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

(Read caption) Demonstrators shout slogans against France and French President Nicolas Sarkozy outside the French Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 21, 2011.

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Nearly 100 years have elapsed since the killing of thousands of Armenians, but the wounds seem far from healed.

The French parliament is to vote on a bill on Thursday making it illegal to deny that the 1915 killing of Armenians during World War I was genocide.  The bill, which is expected to pass, provides for a one-year prison term and a fine of $58,000 (45,000 euros) to anyone who publicly denies it was genocide. 

The vote in the French National Assembly has stirred a diplomatic frenzy and French and Turkish politicians are jumping into the fray. 

“This proposed law targets and is hostile to the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish nation and the Turkish community living in France,” Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister wrote in a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Reuters reports. 

During a Saturday news conference, Mr. Erdogan suggested that France ought to investigate her own role and actions in colonial Africa, including Rwanda

Turkey maintains that the proposed bill is a political ploy by Sarkozy's political party to win the votes of 500,000 Armenians in France ahead of next year’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Sarkozy has also been an outspoken opponent of Turkey desire to join the European Union.

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