News / Europe

Turkey Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Turkey's Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva (C) and Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu (L) light candles, in memory of holocaust victims, during a commemoration to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, January 26, 2012.
Turkey's Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva (C) and Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu (L) light candles, in memory of holocaust victims, during a commemoration to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, January 26, 2012.

Turkey's observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day began with a broadcast of a French documentary on the Holocaust on state run television.

Filmmaker Claude Lanzmann's Shoah was shown late Thursday, on the eve of the observance.

Lanzmann says the broadcast marked the first time a predominantly Muslim country has shown his 1985 biographical film of the Holocaust era.

The nine-hour film was aired to help build understanding between Muslims and Jews, and to combat denials that the Holocaust occurred.

In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating January 27 as a day member countries honor victims of the Holocaust.

Lanzmann's documentary aired at a sensitive time in Turkey's relations with Israel and with Europe.  

Turkey was outraged in 2010 when nine Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish-led aid flotilla bound for Gaza and killed nine Turkish activists. The confrontation caused a deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel.

The broadcast also comes amid an escalating dispute between Turkey and France over a bill approved by the French Senate earlier this week that makes it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians by Turks nearly 100 years ago was genocide. France's lower house passed the bill last month.

Armenia says 1.5 million Armenians were killed during WWI by troops of Turkey's Ottoman Empire, which historians say was one of the 20th century's worst massacres. Turkey has acknowledged the loss of Armenian lives, but says the death toll is exaggerated and does not amount to genocide. It says the deaths were the result of civil war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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