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History should be defined by historians, not by laws

As of this writing, the “Armenian Genocide” page on Wikipedia has been revised 7,356 times in the last 10 years. Most of those edits concern the use of the term “genocide.” The constant revisions this Wikipedia page has undergone are a symptom of larger problems in Europe: the defining of history through law.

According to The New York Times, the French Constitutional Council struck down a law last Tuesday that would have made it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide (1915–23).

The bill was passed by the French Senate and was supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy, who stated that he wanted to see the bill resubmitted with revised language.

The Turkish government accused French lawmakers of racism and insisted that “the writing of history was well beyond the bounds of their mandate,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Turkish government has long maintained that the Armenian genocide was not a genocide at all, and that any statement to the contrary is an affront to the Turkish identity.

France indeed overstepped its boundaries. But ironically, the Turkish government has its own law that seems to “write history beyond their mandate.” The public affirmation of the Armenian genocide is an official crime in Turkey.

Both the French and Turkish governments fail to realize that passing laws criminalizing an opinion of history is wrong and dangerous. The introduction of this bill wasn’t so much about nailing down one true version of history, or about bettering the world through the recognition of a horrific event.

This bill could have been a political move by Sarkozy to gain the vote of the 500,000 French citizens that have Armenian roots.

Laws like the bill struck down in France and the law in effect in Turkey do nothing more than control populations and keep people in power.