'JEWS NOT ALLOWED' Bookshop owner and candidate for mayor stokes fears of 1930s Germany with sign over door banning Jewish customers

Friday 27 October 2023

A bookshop in Turkey has stirred fears of antisemitism with a sign over the door saying "Jews not allowed".

Pictures of the sign which includes a crossed-out version of the Israeli flag, were put up by the shop in the country's capital Istanbul and published on social media.

The independent shop Rağmen Sahaf, which trades in rare books written in Turkish and English, is situated on a quiet street near the grounds of Istanbul University and the Kalenderhane Mosque.

The shop's owner, Özkan Mustafa Küçükkural

Mr Küçükkural ran as a candidate for mayor in June

Its owner, Özkan Mustafa Küçükkural, is married with three children and ran for mayor as an independent candidate for Istanbul's Metropolitan Municipality in June.

Days after Hamas death squads invaded Israel on October 7th, he posted a picture of the Palestinian flag on social media. He failed to respond when telephoned by TalkTV for comment.

Karel Valansi, a columnist for the Turkish-Jewish newspaper Salom, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that Jews in Turkey are being incorrectly associated with Israeli government policies.

"What we see from the rhetoric of politicians, the press and social media is the perception that Jews are removed from the position of Turkish citizens and turned into ambassadors and extensions of the state of Israel. The anger against this state is directed toward Turkish Jews."

He added that comments glorifying Adolf Hitler and Nazi ideologies were resurfacing in Turkey, causing unease and insecurity among Jewish-Turks.

Reports of antisemitic incidents in Britain have tripled since October 7th.

According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, antisemitism includes: "Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations."

This definition has been endorsed by the UK, US, Germany and 40 other governments.

There have been no anti-Israel demonstrations in Turkey since the war started, but riot police have been stationed outside synagogues as a precaution.

In the aftermath of the hospital explosion in Gaza, different groups gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul and the embassy residence in Ankara to protest.

Some protesters in Istanbul shouted "takbir," an Islamic chant that means "God is the greatest," and broke through the outer walls of the plaza where the Israeli consulate was located.