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14 March 2006
BERLIN - Political leaders and human rights groups on Tuesday welcomed a decision by Berlin police to ban demonstrations aimed at the Armenian genocide in World War I.
Police on Monday banned two protests due to have been held in the German capital this week which supported the official Turkish position that killings of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks in 1915 did not amount to genocide.
Organizers of one of the protests warned Europe's cities would "go up in flames like Paris" unless Europeans stopped blaming Turkey for the Armenian genocide.
The ban was justified by police who said they feared violence and because they suspected demonstrators would try to both deny and glorify the events of 1915.
"It is unacceptable when planned demonstrations seek to deny the genocide of Armenians during the First World War and make veiled calls for violence in Germany," said Frank Henkel, the opposition Christian Democratic Union interior affairs spokesman in the city government.
A human rights group, the Society for Threatened Peoples, also welcomed the ban and called for legislation to prevent all public events denying or glorifying genocide or war crimes.
Most Western historians term the Armenian killings genocide and say that between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians were killed or died during the massacres.
Parliaments in at least seven European countries, including France and Sweden, have passed resolutions saying the killings were genocide.
Germany has about 1.8 million resident Turkish nationals out of a total population of 82 million.
Mainstream Turkish-German groups had withdrawn support for the controversial demonstrations at the weekend.
Subject: German news
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