AA / Paris
A young French high school student of Turkish origin, who opposed the allegations of the Armenian genocide, was questioned by the French intelligence services.
On June 2, during a history class, young Altay contradicted his teacher’s words concerning the events of 1915 and the allegations of the Armenian genocide.
For the reason that the denial of the “genocide” would be contrary to French law, the young boy then had to face worrying developments, such as the fear of being imprisoned, and of being associated with “radicalism”.
Altay and his family, who do not want their name released for security reasons, gave an interview to the Anadolu Agency (AA). They live in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
During the history class in question, which lasted 2 hours, “the teacher devoted 1 hour to the Armenian genocide and for 40 minutes he kept repeating that the Turks killed Armenian civilians,” Altay explains.
“I couldn’t hold myself back any longer, and I calmly asked if there was any evidence. The professor got angry and said, ‘How can you object to this ? ‘”, he continued.
Altay then responded according to the knowledge he had, always calm, he says, adding that another student got angry and walked towards him.
To scare him, the teacher assured him that he risked jail for what he said.
Following this day, the school administration summoned the young boy 2 days later, on June 4. He has been informed that he faces up to a year in prison for “genocide denial”.
Altay preferred to inquire about the current legislation, and learned that it is not a crime, especially since the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has already ruled on the fact that denying the genocide cannot be penalized.
On June 9, the Altay family was summoned by general intelligence.
– Summoned for “denial of the Armenian genocide”, but questioned for his Muslim identity and for “radicalism”:
Altay explains that the intelligence agents were very cordial with him, assuring from the start that he did not commit a crime. But they asked him about his family, his social media accounts, and his connection to religion.
“Are you a Muslim, do you live your religion, do you pray, are you affiliated with a group?” … The young high school student was forced to answer these kinds of questions. Altay admits having lived a very anxiety-provoking moment, which had the consequence of removing him from his revisions for the exams. “I am seriously worried about my future,” he says.
“I didn’t want to go to class anymore, raise my hand to ask questions. Everyone knew what happened,” he adds.
The father, Aydin, says he received a message on his phone from Altay’s teacher asking for an emergency call back.
“The director told me that my son had done something very serious, that he risked a fine or even a prison sentence. They greatly exaggerated the facts,” he said.
“I told them they had no right to curtail my son’s freedoms,” defending his right to free speech. “Do not break my son’s self-confidence, it is essential that at his age he expresses himself at school, that he shares his ideas.”
The father then asked why the school does not give a disciplinary punishment to Altay if it is indeed a crime. “Get him two weeks away from school,” he said, but the school couldn’t do it.
A few days later, the family attended the intelligence summons. They were friendly, Aydin confirms.
“We only talked for one minute about the Armenian question, the rest of the time we talked about religion and radicalism. They asked us questions about our religious practice, our links with associations and movements, the kind of videos that we’re watching, ”he shared.
Aydin therefore replied that he was a “classic family of Muslims, without looking any further.”
The Turkish Consulate General in Strasbourg, and the lawyers, advised the family not to prolong the case, to remain calm for the future of Altay.
“But since that day, we have all been living under enormous stress, after having been threatened for largely exaggerated facts which are not a crime”, regrets the father of the family.
“I took a leave of absence because I am in a depression, adds Aydin. My son’s psychology has deteriorated. No one came to our aid, only my work mates supported us. No French official supported us. contacted, “he denounced.
Altay’s mother, Aysel, is also very marked by the affair.
“My son didn’t kill anyone, didn’t hurt anyone, didn’t steal anything,” she said, feeling discriminated against and sidelined.
– The denial of the Armenian genocide in France:
The French government attempted in 2001 to penalize denial of the Armenian genocide. But in 2012, the Constitutional Council had annulled the law, calling it contrary to freedom of expression.
* Translated from Turkish by Tuncay Çakmak
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