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Turkish Students Arrested for Nazi Salutes at Nazi Death Camp

Two Turkish students could face up to three years in jail for "promoting fascism" after shouting "Heil Hitler" at Israeli group.
By Ari Soffer & Ege Berk Korkut
First Publish: 10/15/2013, 1:39 PM

Illustration: Jewish visitors at Majdanek
Illustration: Jewish visitors at Majdanek
Flash 90

Two Turkish university students were arrested at the site of the Majdanik Death camp, after giving Nazi salutes to a group of Israeli students and shouting "Heil Hitler".

The two, identified by Turkish media as Mehmet A. and Mesut T., were arrested after members of the Israeli group filed charges, and are being detained for promoting fascist propaganda - a crime punishable by up to three years imprisonment in Poland.

But the pair protested their innocence, saying that although they appreciate that their actions were offensive, they had only meant it as a joke, according to Today's Zaman

“All we wanted was to take a couple of pictures [posing making the salute] as memories from the camp. We did not know it was a crime in Poland,” claimed Mehmet A.

Mehmet said Polish police confiscated both of their passports, as well as a camera, and kept them in custody for two days before questioning them at the prosecutor’s office, following which they were released pending charges.

Anti-Semitism in Turkey is a growing problem, which some analysts blame on the ruling Islamist AKP party, whose own leading officials have actively engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric.

In July, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister accused "Diaspora Jewry" of orchestrating the "Gezi Park" anti-government protests. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a long history of anti-Semitic and racist remarks, including collectively comparing Jews to "Nazis" during his term as the mayor of Istanbul.

More recently, on Sunday Bulent Yildirim, who heads the IHH - the Islamist group behind the infamous Mavi Marmara flotilla - tweeted that "Turkish-speaking Zionist Jews" in Turkey would "pay the price" for the deaths of IHH members who died attacking Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship back in 2010.