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Turkey’s Jews condemn prosecutor’s remarks as tantamount to hate speech

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Turkey’s Jewish community has condemned a statement by Çankırı Chief Public Prosecutor Hüsnü Aldemir, who likened the Gülen movement to a Jewish organization during a meeting over the weekend, saying that it is tantamount to hate speech.

“Some media or social media channels often say that we are being soft on ‘FETÖ’ [a derogatory term used by government circles to refer to the Gülen movement] members and that we are investigating those who are not part of it. This is a wrong perception. … This organization is very complex, just like a Jewish organization, everything is planned out. That is why we are investigating it so thoroughly,” said Aldemir during a meeting on Friday.

Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation said in a Twitter message posted on Sunday, mentioning names of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak: “We condemn the hate speech used by the prosecutor who must be our assurance against hate crimes.”

Karel Valansi, a columnist from the t24 news website and Şalom, an İstanbul-based Jewish weekly, also criticized Aldemir’s statements.  In a social media message on Saturday, Valansi said: “What then, if even a public prosecutor speaks like that.”

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

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