The caricature depicting Turkey as a perpetrator of genocide was displayed by teachers at the Collège Anatole France, located in the village of Montbéliard of the province of Franche-Comté, during history and geography lessons and caused the protests by students of Turkish origin who found themselves in front of the caricature answering the teacher's questions of “What are you getting out of the caricature?” and “Why can't Turkey be an EU member according to this cartoon?”
Muhammed Ali Erki (17) and İsmail Erdal (14), the Turkish students shocked by the caricature and the questions, let their parents know immediately about the incident.
Courtesy of Habertürk
In the caricature a man with a moustache is shown being crushed under the weight of a basket he is trying to carry up a hill; the basket is filled with skulls and marked by the Turkish crescent and star. Above the bones the words “Armenian genocide” are written and the mustached man crushed underneath the basket is shown to be a symbol of people oppressed by the burden of the alleged genocide. Above him on the hill are people representing EU candidates, climbing towards a European Union flag. Moreover, a man symbolizing France is depicted placing a skull onto the heap in the basket.
Erki, one of the Turkish students who expressed his shock at seeing the caricature, responded to his teacher by saying, “We [Turkey] have not perpetrated any genocide, and you are blaming us for an act that we have never done.” Following this, Erkin asked the question, “What do you think about the Algerians [that lost their life under the French colonial rule]?” In response, the teacher revealed that he is obliged to teach this subject as a mandatory course. “The caricature is not my idea; it is part of the syllabus,” he said.
Erdal, another Turkish student, protested the message of the lesson, saying that “it is France that does not want to see Turkey become an EU member.”
The parents of the Turkish students reported the incident to COJEP (Conseil de la Jeunesse Pluriculturelle), and Turkish officials from the group promised to address their concerns to the French Education Ministry and to seek removal of the subject from the curriculum.