Jewish community wants protection in new charter

Jewish community wants protection in new charter

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Jewish community wants protection in new charter

The Quincentennial Foundation becomes the first minority group to voice its proposals for a new charter in front of the Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission. AA photo

One of Turkey’s most prominent Jewish groups, the Quincentennial Foundation, has called for provisions against racism and anti-Semitism in the new charter at a meeting yesterday with members of Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission.

According to information obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News, foundation Chairman Naim Güleryüz said Jewish people in Turkey did not see themselves as “minorities” and wanted to be included in the future constitution as equal citizens of Turkey. The main emphasis of their presentation was on a “liberal and inclusive” constitution that does not marginalize anyone.

The main concern of the Quincentennial Foundation was “racism and anti-Semitism,” Güleryüz reportedly said, and Jewish people did not intend to open a debate into the controversial 1942 wealth tax that stripped many members of Turkey’s non-Muslim communities from their fortunes.

Güleryüz said the new charter should lead to amendments in the penal code article that punishes incitement of hatred on the basis of social, religious and racial differences that would ensure full protection for minorities. Hate crimes should be prosecuted directly, he said.

The Foundation, established in 1992, takes its name from the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Sephardic Jews, who were exiled from Spain and found refuge in the Ottoman Empire in 1492. Prominent businessman Jak Kamhi is the group’s honorary chairman.

Güleryüz said books on the alleged Armenian genocide under the Ottoman Empire are being published and even taught in classrooms around the world. Turkey, he said, could make a similar effort to promote the protection of human rights, highlighting the Sephardic Jewish community in Turkey.