Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Conditions deteriorate for minorities in Turkey

Jewish and Christian children being separated from Muslims at school, police disruption to synagogue services, and official interference in the selection of the community's leadership - are these all signs of how things have changed for minorities in Turkey, or is it all an unfortunate misunderstanding? Ynet News has this disturbing story:

Liberal Turkish newspaper Milliyet reported Sunday that religious leaders from various faiths convened in Istanbul about two-and-a-half weeks ago to discuss the status of the city's non-Muslim residents, including Jews.

The representatives claimed that the treatment of non-Muslims has deteriorated.

According to the newspaper, local authorities are forbidding non-Muslim communities from appointing a leader. Instead, the report said, authorities demand a sole representative for residents of all faiths, thus preventing the Jewish community in Istanbul from appointing a new chief rabbi.

Milliyet further reported that there is evidence of a growing trend in the city whereby Christian and Jewish schoolchildren are being separated from Muslim pupils.

Furthermore, the newspaper said, government officials recently raided the "Hemdat Yisrael" synagogue in Istanbul during a Shabbat prayer session and demanded to see documentation proving that the worshipers are residents of the city.

"Everyone is apathetic; people immerse themselves in their work, but you can sense that the reality has changed," a local Jewish man said of the atmosphere in Istanbul, "The situation is redolent of other eras in history."

However, Turkey's Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva said the situation was not as dire as the report indicated, claiming that most of the incidents mentioned were the result of a misunderstanding between the Jewish community and local authorities.

Read article in full

Turkish Jews send letter to Congress: A sign that Turkish Jews are being manipulated by the government for its own ends

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