Shame on the Edirne governor

Shame on the Edirne governor

Edirne Gov. Dursun Şahin created a stir with remarks that have not only angered Turkey’s citizens of Jewish origin, but also Turks with a conscience. Şahin’s words have also revealed once again how close to the surface anti-Semitism is as far as Turkish officialdom goes.

Referring to the recent desecration by Israeli soldiers of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Şahin said a few days ago that he would not allow the Grand Synagogue in Edirne, which has been restored by the Directorate General for Foundations, to be opened for worship.

“We are building their synagogues at a time when those bandit-like people are blowing the winds of war within the al-Aqsa Mosque and killing Muslims. I say this with great hatred in me ... This synagogue, whose restoration is finished, will only be opened up as a museum.”

Anyone with any respect for other religions has to abhor what Israel did in the al-Aqsa Mosque. There can be no justification for such a move which has only inflamed the situation in the Middle East further.

More shame on Israel given that Jews have suffered so much desecration of their holy sites in the past in Europe and elsewhere and continue to do so today. Granted that Israel is faced with terrorist attacks, but it has clearly lost sight of elemental truths, like the fact that two wrongs never make a right.

Israel’s preparation to announce Israel as a Jewish state, in complete disrespect of the rights of its citizens of other religions, also provides ample proof of how this country has lost its bearings. It is not for nothing that sympathy is increasing in Europe for the Palestinians, despite the guilty conscience of Europeans when it comes to the Jews. 

It is, of course, up to Israelis to be concerned with how their country is turning into an authoritarian and a pariah state in the eyes of the international community. If we return to Turkey, though, the governor of Edirne was rightly castigated by Turks with a conscience.

There were columnists, for example who questioned what the events in the al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s brutish manners, have to do with the Grand Synagogue in Edirne. They also asked why Şahin was discriminating against Turkish citizens of Jewish origin by equating them with the events in Jerusalem.

A statement on behalf of these citizens condemned the governor’s remarks and indicated correctly that they have been living in this country and bearing allegiance to it for centuries.

What makes the situation worse is that Şahin is not an elected, but an appointed official. In other words, he is the appointee of a government that allegedly condemns anti-Semitism.

One would therefore have expected him to be chastised and even removed from his office and sent packing somewhere else. None of this happened though. There was not one government official who came out to criticize Şahin.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu never waste an opportunity to underline how Turkey has always welcomed Jewish people in the past, and how much they oppose anti-Semitism. But they did not have a word of criticism for Şahin either.

The only statement on the subject came from the head of the Directorate General for Foundations, which is attached to the Prime Ministry. He said it was up to his directorate to decide, and the decision was that the synagogue would be opened for worship as planned.

One is led, naturally, to assume in this case that the Edirne governor has moral support from the highest levels of state and government. At any rate, if he did not feel he had this, he would not have spoken the way he did. All one can say is shame on him, and those who support him with their silence, which only discredits Turkey.