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'Genocide' cartoon in French school shocks Turkish students

by Hurriyet Daily News. April 19, 2012.

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 09:18 PM UT


Two Turkish students in a French school have reacted after a cartoon depicting a Turk carrying a basket full of skulls with the words "Armenian Genocide" written on its side was shown in class, Turkish Hurriyet writes. 

The incident occurred at the College Anatole France high school in the city of Montbéliard in France's Comte region.

A teacher displayed a cartoon during a geography and history class and asked students: "What do you understand from this cartoon? Why can Turkey not join the EU according to this cartoon?"

The cartoon depicted a mountain with the EU flag erected at its peak. Three stereotypical caricatures of Balkan peoples were drawn climbing the mountain. At the very bottom of the mountain was a "peasant" Turkish man struggling to get up from the ground with a very large basket on his back. The basket was filled with human skulls with the word "Turkey" written on it and the words "Armenian Genocide" above. Behind the Turkish character, a slender man with "France" written over his head was shown adding a skull to the already-full basket. 

Turkish students Muhammed Ali Erki, 17, and ─░smail Erdal, 14, said they were shocked to see the cartoon. Erki reportedly asked his teacher, "We did not commit genocide, yet you accuse us of it. What do you think about Algerians?" 

“You are right but this cartoon is not my idea, I need to give this class as part of the curriculum,” the teacher said in reply.

Erdal said he understood from the cartoon that "the French do not want to see Turkeyin the EU."

The students said they had not been able to concentrate on their classes after seeing the cartoon and added that were especially saddened to see North African students making fun of Turkey and Turks.

The families of the students notified the anti-racism COJEP International foundation. COJEP President Ali Gediko─člu said they would bring the cartoon to the attention of the authorities in France and file a complaint with the French Education Ministry to have the cartoon removed from the curriculum.

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