Turkish Pop Singer Posts Anti-Semitic Tweets Praising Hitler
A popular Turkish female pop singer was under pressure Friday to make a public apology after she posted a succession of anti-Semitic tweets in response to Israel's air campaign to stamp out rocket fire by terrorists in Gaza.
Yildiz Tilbe, who has been making folk-influenced hit albums since the 1990s, praised Hitler in the tweets and said the end of "the Jews" was near.
"If God allows, it will be again Muslims who will bring the end of those Jews, it is near, near," she tweeted on her official account @YildizzTilbee.
"They (Jews) are hostile to Allah and all prophets including their own prophet Moses."
In another tweet she appeared to praise Hitler for the mass extermination of Jews in the Holocaust, writing "May God bless Hitler".
The Jewish Community of Turkey condemned the singer's tweets as "racist and inciting hatred", calling on judicial authorities to "immediately start necessary legal procedures" under the country's penal code.
The comments also went viral on social media, where a petition campaign was launched to convince the singer to offer an apology.
Tilbe wrote after the criticism that she was not racist.
"There is oppression against Muslims everywhere in the world," she responded.
"Is there any single American or Jew being massacred, whose country is bombed or whose people are killed?" she asked, making no reference to the decades of deadly attacks against Israel.
Turkey is one of few majority Muslim states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel, but ties have deteriorated seriously under the rule of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), which supports Hamas.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated politics in Turkey for over a decade, is known for his angry outbursts at the Jewish state.
He has in the past accused Israel of leading a "conspiracy" to overthrow his government, and in a recent heated exchange with a Turkish opposition activist referred to his opponent as "Israeli sperm".
Less well-known are the Islamist prime minister's history of openly anti-Semitic comments.
In 1998, during his term as mayor of Istanbul at the time, Erdogan stated at a public rally that "the Jews have begun to crush the Muslims in Palestine, in the name of Zionism. Today, the image of the Jews is no different than that of the Nazis."
Anti-Semitism in Turkey has been rising steadily against the hostile political backdrop, causing many young Turkish Jews to leave the country. Incitement against Jews in the country has often spilled over into violence, including a disturbing incident earlier this year in which two Jews were assaulted with a butcher's knife.
The mayor of Ankara, Melik Gokcek, a senior member of the AKP, backed the singer's Gaza tweets, retweeting most of her comments except the one on Hitler, calling them "full of intelligence".
""I applaud you Yildiz Tilbe for the messages you deliver to many of your colleagues and especially to the Turkish nation," he wrote.
Tilbe released her debut album in 1994 and has enjoyed growing fame since then. She writes most of her songs and also composes for other singers including Turkey's internationally-renowned pop star Tarkan.