Menu JTA Search

Turkish scholar fired for Nazi comparison

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A prominent Turkish scholar was fired for comparing the suffering of Turks in Europe today to that of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Faruk Sen, who headed the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, Germany, since it was founded 23 years ago, said he would fight the dismissal in court.

The institute’s board of directors decided to fire him after learning of Sen’s comments through a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Sen’s essay titled, “Europe’s New Jews,” was published May 19 in the Turkish paper Referans.

“Even though our people, who have been living in Central and Western Europe for 47 years now, have generated 125,000 businesses that bring in a total sales of 45 billion Euro, they suffer discrimination and exclusion just as the Jews did – though to a different degree and with different outward appearances,” Sen wrote.

The article had been addressed to Turkish businessman Ishak Alaton, who is Jewish, after Alaton was verbally attacked following a TV interview in Turkey in which he complained about anti-Semitism.

Apparently trying to comfort Alaton, Sen wrote, “Don’t be sad about anti-Semitic tendencies of some groups in Turkey. We, the Turkish people and new Jews of Europe, support you.”

The scholar later said he regretted using such “unsophisticated” and “unacceptable” words to express solidarity. Speaking from Istanbul, Sen told the German daily Tageszeitung that the decision to fire him was an overreaction, and had taken him by surprise.

He said he never expected “an article that I wrote in Turkey out of solidarity with a Jewish businessman and with minorities in Turkey would be taken so far out of context in Germany.”

NEXT STORY