Turkish ultranationalist group stones Istanbul synagogue during protest against al-Aqsa restrictions
AA photoA Turkish ultra-nationalist group has attacked a synagogue in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district with stones during a protest against the new Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ entry to the al-Aqsa mosque.
The Alperen Hearths, an ultranationalist youth organization linked to the right-wing nationalist Great Union Party (BBP), gathered in front of the Neve Shalom synagogue late on July 20 and kicked and threw rocks at the building.
The setting up of metal detectors at the entrances of the al-Aqsa compound has led to a wave of anger among Palestinians, who called for the immediate removal of the devices.
The group’s district head, Kürşat Mican, called Israel a “terrorist state” and said Israeli authorities have been oppressing people at the mosque for a long time.
“Israel has banned Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque for many years. It has not stopped at that and now it is harassing our Palestinian brothers by putting x-ray devices at the entrances to our sanctuary. Our brothers are not able to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque. This is limiting to freedom of religion, faith and worship,” Mican said in front of the synagogue. He also warned Zionists to pull themselves together.
“We are carrying out a protest here. Zionists should pull it together. They shouldn’t prevent our brothers from the freedom to worship. We will prevent your freedom to worship here just like you are preventing ours there. We can come here tomorrow just like we are standing here today. You will not be able to get inside,” he said.
The group dispersed after the press statement.
The attack on the synagogue was met with criticism, with the Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation urging authorities to take necessary action.
“We are condemning the provocative act in front of the Neve Shalom synagogue and expecting related authorities to do what’s necessary,” read the statement posted on Twitter.
The act was also slammed by social media users, with many pointing out to the fact that the way to protest Israel is not by attacking a place of worship for the Jewish community in Turkey.
“Places of worship cannot be tools for political acts,” said main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Barış Yarkadaş.
“What is the reason behind the government’s silence?” asked Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, another CHP lawmaker to condemn the act.
Meanwhile, a number of non-governmental organizations in Turkey are planning to protest new Israeli restrictions.
Israeli restrictions will be condemned across Turkey, particularly in Istanbul and Ankara, after Friday prayers. Protests are expected to continue on July 22.
In Istanbul, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) Chairman Bülent Yıldırım will hold a news meeting and read a statement prepared by 50 academics and religious scholars.
The Anatolian Youth Association (AGD) will organize a protest after Friday prayers in the city.
In Ankara, a group plans to gather at the Hacı Bayram Veli mosque to protest.
Protests are planned in other provinces, including the southern province of Antalya, the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and the western province of İzmir.