Amid rampant hate speech against Jews published in newspapers in Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said at a United Nations meeting that anti-Semitism, Zionism and Islamophobia were all “crimes against humanity.”
Speaking Wednesday at the “Fifth Alliance of Civilizations Forum” in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, Erdogan said: “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” Anatolia News Agency and other Turkish media reported.
The event was a United Nations summit for tolerance.
UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group, has called on Erdogan to apologize for his “shocking” statements and urged Ban Ki-moon -- the secretary general of the United Nation who, according to UN Watch, was present on the stage and did not react to Erdogan’s words -- to speak out and condemn the speech.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said the prime minister's remarks were particularly disturbing against a backdrop of increased Eurpoean anti-semitism.
“Frankly… we are deeply disappointed that the UN Secretary General, the world’s leading diplomat, sat through the attack in silence,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement. “We note that the US, UK, Canada and Australia declined to attend in the first place, but that both Germany and France were in attendance. We urge the leaders of those two countries along with all NATO members to publicly denounce this hate-mongering.”
Cooper also criticized Erdogan, saying he “is exactly the type of bigoted politician he bemoaned in his speech. It has been clear for some time that President Erdogan has chosen to walk in the hateful footsteps of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and use the denigration of Israel and the millions of proud Zionists around the world to establish his credentials with the Islamist street. His anti-Semitic bombast is degrading 500 years of relations with the Jewish people and putting Turkey’s Jewish community at risk of attack from extremists.”
“With the upsurge of anti-Semitism raging across Europe, such a slander, left unchallenged will only further embolden anti-Semites everywhere,” the Wiesenthal Center official concluded.
Erdogan’s words came on the heels of the Feb. 25 publication of a report on xenophobia in the Turkish media which said that Jews and Armenians are exposed to hate speech more than any other group in Turkey.
The report by the Hrant Dink Foundation, a human rights watchdog, is based on material that appeared in 16 national circulation newspapers and another 1,000 local publications between September 2012 and December 2012, according to an article about the report which appeared on Thursday in Hurriyet, a Turkish daily.
The researches found 39 instances of hate speech against Jews in Turkish newspapers during that period, which accounted for 25 percent of the total of hateful articles found. Hate speech levels against Armenians was slightly lower, according to a diagram from the research. The third most targeted group was Christians with 18 percent of all hateful content.
The top three Turkish dailies that featured hate speech content are Yeni Akit, Milli Gazete and Yeni Mesaj, respectively, the report said, adding that in the local media, Istanbul, Gölcük Postası, and Yozgat Hakimiyet were the top three dailies that used hate speech the most.