24 Dec 2011

Algeria cited in Turkish response to France

12:34 pm on 24 December 2011

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has accused France of committing genocide during its colonial occupation of Algeria.

French MPs passed a bill in the lower house on Thursday making it a criminal act to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide in 1915-16 Armenia.

Mr Erdogan accused President Nicolas Sarkozy of using the bill to fan hatred of Muslims and Turks for electoral gain.

He said Mr Sarkozy should "ask his father, who served in the French Legion there" about the Algerian "massacre".

France invaded Algeria in 1830 and it remained under French rule until independence in 1962.

The BBC reports the number of people killed in a war for independence from 1954-1962 varies widely according to different sources, ranging from 300,000 to more than one million.

Ankara has already recalled its ambassador to France and frozen political visits and joint military projects over the bill.

Turkey rejects the term "genocide" to describe the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16. Ankara says closer to 300,000 people died.

The BBC reports half a million ethnic Armenians live in France.