Turkish EU minister commemorates Holocaust along with country’s chief rabbi

Turkish EU minister commemorates Holocaust along with country’s chief rabbi

Turkish EU minister commemorates Holocaust along with country’s chief rabbi

AA photo

Turkey’s EU minister has attended a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day along with the country’s chief rabbi, while Ankara has voiced resolve in continuing its fight against anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in a message to mark the day.

“We have been unfortunately observing that anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, which we can define as an epidemic disease and which we see is on the rise in every part of the world, have had an impact on some marginal circles in our country from time to time. Regardless of the religious, ethnic and sectarian identity targeted, it is not possible for us to tolerate any discourse of hate,” EU Minister Volkan Bozkır said Jan. 27 at a ceremony hosted at Ankara University. 

Turkey’s chief rabbi, İshak Haleva, said at the same ceremony the Holocaust should not be forgotten in order to draw lessons for humanity.

“Even if centuries pass, [the Holocaust] should be kept on the agenda, not in memories. It should be kept as topical so that humanity is able to comprehend that claiming one’s dignity is one of the foremost duties,” Haleva said.

In a written statement released late on Jan. 26, the Turkish Foreign Ministry recalled that Jan. 27 had been chosen by the United Nations to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War II. 

“We commemorate with respect millions of people who lost their lives in the Holocaust, which is one of the darkest and most painful eras in the history of humanity,” the ministry said.

“As it has done so far, our country will continue to fulfill its responsibility to ensure such atrocities are not experienced again and will continue its fight with determination against phenomena, such as anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, which have unfortunately been observed and strengthened,” the ministry said.

Six million Jews were murdered by Germany’s Nazi regime, along with 5 million non-Jews who were also killed.

The anniversary, marked each year since 2005, falls on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland by the Soviet army in 1945. One million people died at the camp.

Noting that Turkey had been participating in activities of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as an observer since 2008, the ministry said the country had been exerting efforts to raise awareness about the Holocaust.

Turkey has been holding ceremonies to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day since 2011 with the participation of high-level officials, the ministry said. 

During the event hosted at the Ankara University, the audience watched “The Liberation of Auschwitz” (Die Befreiung von Auschwitz), a documentary produced in 1986 to mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. They also listened to the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List” (1993).

Romania’s ambassador to Turkey, Radu Onofrei, and U.S. Ambassador John Bass also attended the ceremony, which ended with the lighting of candles.