Turkish opposition MP criticised for anti-Semitism

A Turkish lawmaker lashed out at a Jewish journalist who called him out for making an anti-Semitic remark on social media, the Times of Israel reported on Sunday.

Lütfü Türkkan, the parliamentary party leader for the nationalist opposition Good Party, sparked a row when he commented on a video of a luxurious event held by a family for their newborn baby.

“There is a part of our society that lives in luxury from their undeserved wealth that we call Protestant Muslims, but in an intellectual sense they have become like Jews,” Türkkan said in a tweet.

The Good Party lawmaker referred to the small or medium-sized business owners from conservative religious backgrounds who are often compared to German sociologist Max Weber’s thesis linking the Protestant work ethic to the development of capitalism. These “Protestant Muslims” make up an important part of the Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party’s voter base.

But Türkkan’s comment linking Judaism to the ostentatious display of what he called unearned wealth was widely seen as a clear display of anti-Semitism.

The tweet drew criticism from Ivo Molinas, the editor of Turkey’s Jewish publication Şalom, but the Good Party politician refused to back down.

“Not every sentence containing the word Jew is anti-Semitic. Or has this word been banned without me knowing it,” Türkkan said in response.

Turkey’s Jewish minority has been dwindling in size in recent years, with many choosing to emigrate abroad. Anti-Semitism is cited as a major reason for their flight.