Armenian genocide memorial in Lyon, France 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Robert Pratta)
PARIS - French lawmakers appealed to the country's highest court on Tuesday to overturn a law that makes it illegal to deny the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago was genocide.
The move raises the possibility that the law, which sparked an angry reaction in Turkey, will be dismissed as unconstitutional.
The bill, which received final approval on January 23, prompted Ankara to cancel all economic, political and military meetings with Paris. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan attacked the French parliament
for passing what he said was "discriminatory and racist" legislation.
More than 70 senators from across the political divide made the appeal to the court, said Jacques Mezard, a senator from a left-leaning party, the Democratic and Social European Group. Another 50 lawmakers in the lower house agreed to the appeal.
A minimum of 60 lawmakers is needed to make an appeal to the Constitutional Council, which has one month to make its decision.
If the court finds the law unconstitutional, the legislation is rejected.
Armenia, backed by many historians and parliaments, says about 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during World War One in a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman government.
The Ottoman empire was dissolved after the end of the war, but successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks feel the charge of genocide is a direct insult to their nation. Ankara argues there was heavy loss of life on both sides during fighting in the area.