Armenian Genocide Issue Intrudes Into French Election

The ongoing inabiity of Turkey to confront its Ottoman past intruded into an election in France when the mayor of Villeurbarine confronted a candidate, who happens to be of Turkish background, to take a stand on the issue of the Armenian genocide. Sirma Oran agreed to classify the 1915 killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman leaders as an example of genocide but then came under great pressure from members of the 120,000 Turkish community in the Lyon area and the local Turkish consulate. Oran finally withdrew from the race. Socialist Mayor Jean Paul Bret accuses the Turkish consulate of exerting pressure and the Turkish consulat accuses the mayor of being the source of pressure.

There is no question thousands of innocent Armenians were killed by soldiers of the Ottoman empire acting under orders of their superiors. Germany has come to grips with the Holocaust, the United States knows its own miserable history of mistreatment of Indians, and it is about time Turkey confronts its past. In confronting one’s past evil, the nation is able to move forward. A German living in 2008 is not responsible for the Holocaust anymore than a person of Turkish heritage is responsible for what happened a hundred years ago. I realize even as I write these words, there will be angry comments from those who believe nothing happened in 1915 that was horrible.

There is also no need to have such an issue intrude into a local French election.