LYON (AFP/Winnipeg Sun)–Several thousand people joined a rally in the southeastern French city of Lyon Saturday organized by Franco-Turkish associations opposed to the construction of an Armenian genocide memorial.
The meeting turned rowdy when another group–students staging their own protest against a controversial new employment law for youths–crossed paths with the Turkish march Saturday.
Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to separate the two groups after some of the Turks attacked the demonstrating youths–police said.
Police estimated the pro-Turkish gathering at about 3,200 protesters–who carried signs claiming "There never was an Armenian genocide".
"We do not want a monument erected. It is a verdict without a judgment," said Sevda Gog–a representative of the Franco-Turkish committee–which plans to petition the Socialist mayor of Lyon–Gerard Collomb.
In 2001 France passed a resolution recognizing the Genocide against Armenia’s–which took place under the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917–leaving 1.5 million dead. The French decision angered Turkey.
In 2003 Collomb announced that Lyon would build an Armenian memorial–though plans were suspended on the advice of the regional commission.