Turkish extremists protest outside Istanbul synagogue

Turkish ultra-nationalists protest outside Istanbul synagogue to denounce Israel's security measures on the Temple Mount.

Ben Ariel,

Police officer outside Neve Salom Synagogue in Istanbul (archive)
Police officer outside Neve Salom Synagogue in Istanbul (archive)
Reuters

A group of Turkish ultra-nationalists on Thursday protested outside one of the most significant synagogues in Istanbul to denounce Israel's security measures on the Temple Mount, the Turkish Dogan news agency said.

According to the report, the group from the Alperen Hearths, a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group, said in a statement read outside the Neve Salom synagogue in central Istanbul that Israel was a "terror state" seeking to block freedom for worship to Muslims.

"If you prevent our freedom of worship there then we will prevent your freedom of worship here," said the statement, read by the group's local chairman Kursat Mican.

The Foundation of the Turkish Chief Rabbinate -- which looks after the country's small Jewish community mainly concentrated in Istanbul -- criticized the protest.

"We condemn the provocative action outside the Neve Salom synagogue tonight. We expect that the relevant authorities will take the necessary measures," it said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency.

According to Dogan, some protesters kicked the doors of the synagogue and threw stones. They later dispersed.

The synagogue usually has a heavy police guard. It was targeted by deadly attacks in 1986 and again in 2003, which was attributed to Islamists.

While nationalists protest occasionally outside Israel's diplomatic missions in Turkey, a demonstration outside a synagogue is unusual.

The latest tensions on the Temple Mount began after Israel announced a series of security measures following last week's terrorist attack at the compound, in which two Druze police officers were murdered.

The security measures included the placing of magnetometers (advanced metal detectors which are selective in which metals they react to) and additional security cameras around the entrances to the holy site.

These security measures prompted an outcry from the Palestinian Authority, the Jordanian Waqf and the Jordanian government, which demanded a return to the status quo.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday demanded that Israel remove the metal detectors erected at the entrances to the Temple Mount following the terrorist attack.

"Within the framework of freedom of religion and worship there can be no impediment for Muslims" entering the holy site, the Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as telling President Reuven Rivlin.

Turkey has seen a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes since the rise of Erdogan's Islamist AKP party. Although violent attacks are still relatively rare, anti-Jewish incitement has become commonplace.

Several years ago, the governor of the northwestern province of Edirne was accused of inciting hatred towards the country's Jewish community, after suggesting a synagogue be turned into a museum as a reprisal for Israel's policies over the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.




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