New York, NY, November 23, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed outrage at a Turkish governor’s threats to turn a century-old synagogue into a museum -- as punishment, he says, for Israel’s alleged actions against Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Dursun Sahin, governor of the province of Edirne, said he was turning the 107-year old Buyuk Synagogue into a museum and would not permit the Jewish community to use it for ritual purposes. The Turkish government is currently paying for a renovation of the synagogue.
Sahin told reporters: "When those bandits blow winds of war inside al-Aksa and slain Muslims, we build in their synagogues. I say this with a huge hatred inside me. We clean their graveyards, send their projects to boards. The synagogue here will be registered only as a museum, and there will be no exhibition inside it."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We are outraged by Edirne governor’s hostile statements and intent to bar Jewish worship and ceremonies from this historic synagogue as an act of punishment for alleged Israeli actions. He did not try to hide his hatred of Jews -- it was clearly expressed in his public comments.
These statements and actions exacerbate the sense of unease and heighten the concern felt by the age-old Turkish Jewish community in the face of increasingly hostile public discourse towards Jews and Israel in Turkey.
We welcome the rejection of Sahin’s comments by Turkish officials in charge of this Jewish religious site, and urge responsible leaders at the highest levels of the Turkish government to add their voices of rejection and condemnation of these offensive and threatening comments.