Erdogan Vows to Protect Jewish Minority In Turkey

February 4, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Agence France Presse

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged Tuesday never to allow anti-Semitism to take hold in Turkey, in a bid to calm the country's Jewish minority, concerned over his criticism of Israel's conduct in its war on Gaza. "There has never been anti-Semitism in the history of this nation and country," Erdogan told a parliamentary group meeting of his Justice and Development Party.

"And I believe there will not be any from now on. Nothing of the sort can happen under our government," the prime minister added.

"Their safety and lives are under our guarantee."

Turkey's tiny Jewish community - numbering about 23,000 people - have expressed fear that anti-Semitism is creeping into predominantly Muslim but staunchly secular Turkey and have reported several incidents of hostility.

During Israel's 22-day deadly assault on Gaza, a sign reading "Jews cannot enter, dogs can" was put at the door of a civic group's office in the central city of Eskisehir and removed after a media outcry, while anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on two synagogues in two cities.