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Turkish Minister Criticizes Jews; Says They Don’t Speak Turkish; Jews Resent Slur

Jewish circles in Turkey are concerned over a recent criticism of the Jews by Turkish Minister of Education Tewfik Ileri, who asserted that Jews do not speak Turkish, but “their own language.” The Minister’s remarks were made at a meeting of the Turkish National Student Federation.

One of the reasons for the concern is that it is well known that the younger generation of Turkish Jews do speak the Turkish language, although their elders for the most part still speak “ladino” with a mixture of French and Turkish. This situation stems from the fact that until some 25 years ago, when the Republic came into existence, Jews were only taught French in the schools which they were permitted to attend. However, since then the Jews, like other Turkish citizens, have been taught Turkish.

Jewish circles have expressed resentment that Jews alone were picked out for criticism. They point out that many non-Jewish Turkish families speak foreign languages, but are not singled out for public castigation. They also emphasize that such criticism violates the liberty of the individual, which has been guaranteed by the new Democratic regime.

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