Beware of new provocations

Beware of new provocations

A group gathered and demonstrated in front of the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district late on July 20 to protest the Israeli government’s recent move to place metal detectors at the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. 

If it had remained as a peaceful protest, you may have said it was the wrong address but was still legal.

 Everyone has and should have the right to protest as long as it’s peaceful and doesn’t turn violent; this is what article 34 of the Turkish constitution says. However, demonstrators stoned and kicked the door of the synagogue, according to news agencies. The person who introduced himself as the Istanbul district head of the ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths, Kürşat Mican, spoke on behalf of the group that protested outside the synagogue. 

“Zionists should pull themselves 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 go inside,” he said. 

Thus, in this act, there is violence and the threat to continue violence increasingly, as well as the threat of blocking the freedom of worship, which is guaranteed under article 24 of the constitution. No one was detained nor were their testimonies taken by police at the end of the protest.

The fact that the protesters, who mobilized in the streets after the Israeli government’s move against al-Aqsa mosque, targeted the Jewish community in Turkey and freedom of worship is not only wrong but also damaging. 

President Tayyip Erdoğan is involved in the developments at al-Aqsa at the highest level. Erdoğan on July 20 called both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin, to voice his reaction. Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın spoke about the reactions that may surface during and after the Friday prayers on July 21. 

Several associations and pressure groups have called for a protest after Friday prayers on July 21 regarding this issue. It’s their constitutional right as long as it doesn’t include violence. However, the reactions shouldn’t be directed at the Jewish community, who are a part of the Turkish society and are the country’s citizens, in a way that includes the threat of violence. 

Such actions bring to minds the disaster of Sept. 6 and 7, 1955, when (though the numbers were not able to be determined yet) at least 14 Turkish citizens, of whom 13 were Greeks and one was Armenian, were killed mostly in Beyoğlu as a result of an uprising that stemmed from news regarding a person, who was later understood to be connected to the deep state in Turkey, planting a bomb at the house of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, in Thessaloniki, Greece. Moreover, over 400 houses, 100 businesses, 73 churches, one synagogue and 26 schools were destroyed by provoked crowds, and as a result, another migration wave took place from Turkey to Greece. 

It is beneficial to draw lessons from the past. In order to prevent a similar scene, all the necessary precautions should be taken and the masses that show reactions must be calmed down rather than provoked. 

The problem at al-Aqsa mosque is serious. The issue is not the problem of metal detectors only. If it was, then the metal and explosive detectors placed at the entrance to Kaaba in Mecca in 2011 would also have to be perceived as an obstacle to freedom of worship. 

Erdoğan does not draw attention to this detail, but he lays more emphasis on the necessity to protect the rights of the Palestinian people. That’s why it’s beneficial for the government to be careful and take precautions against those who want to violently take to the streets before it’s too late.