Jewish foundation says another synagogue attacked in İstanbul

The Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation has said that the Balat Ahrida synagogue in İstanbul was attacked on Saturday, following a similar incident two days earlier at the Neve Shalom synagogue perpetrated by an ultranationalist group protesting Israel’s security measures at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

tweet posted on the foundation’s @tyahuditoplumu Twitter account said the attacks on the synagogues are provocations and asked Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu to take the necessary measures for the security of the Jewish minority in Turkey.

In response to the attack on Thursday by ultranationalists affiliated with the Alperen Hearths, an offshoot of the Turkish nationalist movement called the Grey Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları), the Turkish Jewish Community issued a statement that said: “We condemn the provocative strike in front of our Neve Shalom synagogue tonight and are asking the relevant authorities to take action.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed on Sunday the ultranationalist group attack to Neve Shalom Synagogue. Speaking to reporters at a news conference at İstanbul’s Atatürk Airport before heading to Saudi Arabia on Sunday as part of his Gulf tour, Erdoğan said “The violations of rights in Jerusalem should never be a reason for Muslims to violate the rights of others.”

“To harm the freedom of worship of those who are members of other religions and their place of worship has no place in our society. Based on this understanding, we are putting forth efforts to ease the tensions in Jerusalem at once and for peace to return around Masjid al-Aqsa once again,” he said.

Also commenting on the issue, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım condemned the attack to the synagogue from the official Twitter account of Prime Ministry on Sunday.

“We are descendants of a civilization which considers diversities as richness, without discriminating people in religion, sect, language and race. Therefore, I don’t find the acts against our Jewish people and their houses of worship appropriate and call people to calm,” he said.

The ultranationalist group had gathered in front of Neve Shalom in İstanbul on Thursday night and kicked the synagogue’s gates while throwing stones in protest of Israel’s security measures at the Temple Mount.

The Israeli government had installed metal detectors at the holy compound after assailants killed two Israeli police officers last weekend. The Muslim religious body that has authority over the site announced that the metal detectors were an attempt to change the status quo and called on worshipers not to enter the site. Since then, violent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Muslim protesters have been ongoing at the compound.

Three Palestinians were killed in street clashes with Israeli forces in Jerusalem and three Israelis were stabbed to death at a West Bank settlement on Friday.

The nationalist group said in a statement read outside Neve Shalom that Israel was a “terror state” seeking to block freedom of 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, Kürşat Mican. ( July 23, 2017

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