Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit sought to implicate Jews in the country’s recent Soma coal mine disaster that left over 300 dead, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.
The paper blasted its distaste for Jews with a headline that criticized the mine’s owner for having a Jewish son-in-law and “Zionist-dominated media” for distorting the story.
Hurriyet said Yeni Akit “has a long track record of anti-Semitic slurs” and noted the front page wording used to describe Alp Gürkan, the mine’s owner, for “giving his daughter to a Jew,” which it implied to be the main reason why the “Zionist-dominated domestic and foreign media” was “attacking Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” to “distort” the truth behind the disaster.
“While the cartel media in cooperation with Jews, Jew-lover parallel media and Jew controlled western media targets the Prime Minister over the Soma disaster, it is revealed that the groom of Alp Gürkan, owner of the company responsible for the disaster, is a Jew named ‘Mario Asafrana’ who changed his name and is now called ‘Mahir’,” the paper wrote.
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for Turkey’s Prime Minister to repudiate the report.
In an interview with The Algemeiner SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper described the story as being “In the infamous tradition of the Protocols of Zion and Der Stuermer” and as “one of the most despicable and frightening uses of anti-Semitism by a contemporary newspaper.”
“As a nation mourns the death of hundreds of its people in a coal mine-such a banner headline seeks to further fan the toxic hate of Jews. The Wiesenthal Center urges Prime Minister Erdoğan to publicly denounce this headline,” Cooper said.
Twitter was alight with comments calling the newspaper anti-Semitic, while others used the social media platform to affirm their hatred of Jews.
Dutch journalist in Turkey Marc Guillet wrote, “#Turkish Yeni Akit #antisemitic page 1 #Soma mine owner’s son-in-law is Jew, Jewish-controlled media distort disaster.”
To which a Turkish Twitter user responded, “so what, I’m anti-jewish, too (semitic includes arabic, better not to use it that way).”
The focus on Jews in the mining disaster came after Erdoğan was reported calling a protester in Soma after the mine disaster “the spawn of Israel.”
Turkish Jew Haymi Behar reflected on “what it is to be born as ‘Israeli spawn’ in Turkey,” also in Hurriyet, writing about the intense misunderstanding and reflexive hatred for Jews in his country, and how it “means being a part of a mere 13 million tribe in a sea of 7 billion in the world, and being a small sample of the 17,000 ‘spawn brothers’ in Turkey.”
The crisis also enlivened defenders of Erdoğan, with Der Spiegel magazine withdrawing its Turkey-based reporter, Hasnain Kazim, after he received 10,000 death threats via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, with one even threatening to “cut his throat.” The offending article quoted the reaction of a miner in Soma who said, “Go to hell, Erdoğan,” stirring anger of supporters of the Turkish government.
Despite the rising tensions, Erdoğan, in a speech on Tuesday, thanked Israel for cancelling a planned celebration last week for Israeli Independence Day out of respect for the families of the 301 dead at the Soma mine.