A popular Turkish newspaper has allowed a blatantly antisemitic reader’s letter to be published on its website.
In the letter to the daily pro-government Yeni Akit, the writer claimed that “Jews are training [stray] dogs [in the Turkish streets] to attack Muslims” and also makes reference to the antisemitic blood libel claims in which Jews would murder Christian children and drink their blood.
The reader claimed that there was a problem with street dogs in a district of northern Istanbul, that Jews living in the area were teaching them to attack Muslims, that “about 100 Muslims have been bitten so far,” and that this was “deliberate.”
The paper has a reputation for hate speech and for being sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism, and also reportedly has close ties to Turkish President Erdogan and is a staunch supporter of his ruling party.
Following the publication of the letter, several readers commented and criticised Yeni Akit for publishing such a thing.
“This is shameful, it’s outright racism,” one person wrote in the comments section, while another questioned, “[why] our country is encouraging racism?”
A third wrote that it’s not possible for a dog to be able to distinguish between Muslims, Jews and Christians, adding that it’s not possible to train them to do so either.
According to independent Turkish news site Ahval, a leader in the ruling party AKP Mustafa Yeneroğlu also shared his disgust for the piece.
He said that this was “the language of Nazis”, and warned that Muslims too faced similar allegations.
“It’s truly devastating to see Jews and Christians from time to time subjected to the same thing Muslims in Europe continually face. Muslims aren’t racist. Muslims don’t deal in hate or produce false news,” Yeneroğlu said in a tweet.
This is not the first time the paper has shared antisemitic sentiments.
In 2014, Yeni Akit shared a spate of antisemitic articles in which it made attempts to blame the Jews for the country’s recent Soma coal mine disaster in which 300 were killed.
In September 2014, Yeni Akit columnist Faruk Cose charged that Turkish Jews “should be taxed” to pay for reconstructing buildings damaged in Gaza during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, while in December 2014, the newspaper used a picture of Adolf Hitler as the centerpiece for its daily word game, and the phrase “We long for you,” meaning Hitler, as the answer to the puzzle.
The paper has a large following on social media with almost 200,000 followers on Twitter.