Turkish Islamist newspaper publishes anti-Semitic report recalling blood libel
A Turkish Islamist newspaper has published an anti-Semitic report claiming that Jews living in Istanbul’s Beykoz district had trained dogs to bite Muslims.
Yeni Akit published a letter from a reader, İclal Yalçınlar, containing the anti-Semitic slur.
The letter said street dogs had taken control of a neighbourhood of Beykoz, and “Jews and masons” living in the area had been setting them on the Muslim inhabitants. More than 100 Muslims had been bitten by dogs, it said.
The letter also raised centuries-old blood libel claims that said Jews living in Spain had tortured Christian children by putting them in barrels full of nails.
Blood libel – unsubstantiated claims about Jews ritually torturing or murdering children – has been raised against Jewish communities in countries around the world for centuries. It has often preceded and been used to justify massacres.
Similar claims were made before Jewish pogroms in Europe and Iran early in the 20th century, and were used to fuel anti-Semitism by the Nazi Party in Germany in the 1930s.
The letter published by Yeni Akit drew revulsion from readers and politicians alike.
Mustafa Yeneroğlu, a deputy for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), called the story “the language of Nazis”, and warned that Muslims too faced similar allegations.
“It’s truly devastating to see Jews and Christians from time to time subjected to the same thing Muslims in Europe continually face. Muslims aren’t racist. Muslims don’t deal in hate or produce false news,” Yeneroğlu said in a tweet.
Estimates say that around 26,000 Jews live in Turkey, though increasing numbers have begun settling in Israel. One of the reasons given by those leaving the country is the profusion of anti-Semitism in Turkey.
Jewish commentators have said the rhetoric of the ruling party has contributed to anti-Semitism. During a recent diplomatic spat with Israel, protesters marched to a synagogue in Istanbul and placed a sign on the door saying the place of worship “should be burned”.