Turkey: Ex-economy minister’s ‘Jews, Zoroastrians or atheists attacked gov’t’ remarks raise concerns

Zafer Çağlayan had resigned from his position late december after being implicated in the graft probe.

Representatives of Turkey’s Jewish Community have said former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan’s remarks concerning “Jews, Zoroastrians and atheists” were anti-Semitic in nature and therefore constituted a crime against humanity, in a statement.

“We have sadly learnt about Mersin Deputy Zafer Çağlayan’s remarks. We share with the public our concerns about the existence of such incidents and statements which attack our religion and causing such views to penetrate society whether intentionally or not,” said the chief rabbinate of Turkey in a statement yesterday. “We expect all to avoid such a situation at a time when we need peace in the world and in our country most and the anti-Semitism and similar statements are regarded as crimes against humanity by all of us,” said the chief rabbinate in the statement.

The statement came after Çağlayan said on March 8 that he would have understood if the government had been attacked by “Jews, Zoroastrians or atheists,” adding that he was unable to understand such a rift from the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen without naming him.

“This nation is aware what kind of a mentality we are struggling with. I have many things to tell you. But if Jews, Zoroastrians or atheists do this to us, I would understand it. But if the one who does these [against us] is passing himself off as a Muslim, shame on him,” said Zafer Çağlayan on March 8, at a rally was referring to the recent rift between Gülen and the ruling AKP.

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