With the emergence of two Armenian-related top news in the world press, a very important Armenian event faces ignorance.

Thousands of Lebanese Armenians have gathered in downtown Beirut today (October 12, 2006) to protest the arrival of Turkish peacekeeping forces due to the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.

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There are about 150,000 Armenians in Lebanon, most of whom are descendants of Armenian refugees who survived the Armenian Genocide organized by the Ottoman Turkish government.

Agence France Press reports:

Lebanon's Armenians rally against Turkish UN force
by Rana Moussaoui Thu Oct 12, 11:49 AM ET

BEIRUT (AFP) – Thousands of Lebanon's Armenians have rallied in Beirut against Turkish troops taking part in a UN peacekeeping force there, on the same day France moved to make denial of the Ottoman genocide of Armenians a crime.

Armenian political and religious leaders attended Thursday's demonstration, which came just two days after the first contingent of Turkish peacekeepers arrived to police a ceasefire between
Israel and Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The rally took place on Beirut's downtown Place des Martyrs, which honours six Lebanese nationalists who were hanged by the Ottomans during World War I.

The crowd, drawn from an Armenian community of about 140,000 people, held high banners denouncing the presence of Turkish troops as "an insult to the collective memory of the Armenian people", while waving Armenian, Lebanese and French flags.

"Genocide, massacre, deportation: Turkey's definition of peace," read another banner.

Earlier Thursday, French deputies approved a bill making it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 massacre of Armenians by the Ottomans was genocide, provoking the fury of Turkey, the modern state that emerged from the Ottoman Empire.

"What France has done is very good. The Lebanese goverment should do the same instead of welcoming Turkish troops," said an elderly demonstrator who gave his name as Taurus.

"Chirac is on the right track," said one of the organisers, Sakis Katchadorian, referring to French
President Jacques Chirac.

Overriding widespread opposition, the Turkish parliament approved a government motion on September 5 to contribute troops to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) following a ceasefire that ended 34 days of fighting.

In total, Turkey is to deploy some 700 soldiers in Lebanon, including troops aboard naval ships. Those that landed on Tuesday were the first Muslim peacekeepers to arrive in the war-scarred country.

Turkey contests the term "genocide" and strongly opposed the French bill.

It says 300,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks, died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence and sided with invading Russian troops as the Ottoman Empire fell apart during World War I.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their ancestors were slaughtered in orchestrated killings, which they maintain can only be seen as genocide.

The French bill must now go to the Senate, or upper house of parliament, for another vote.