Turkish official denies reports he blamed ‘Jewish Diaspora’ for country’s unrest

(JTA) — Turkey’s deputy prime minister said the “Jewish Diaspora” and the international media are part of the “conspiracy” leading recent unrest in the country.

“There are some circles that are jealous of Turkey’s growth. They are all uniting, on one side the Jewish Diaspora,” Besir Atalay, one of four deputy prime ministers, said in broadcast remarks Monday, according to the Turkish Hurriyet news service.

The unrest began last month as a peaceful sit-in protest to save Gezi Park in central Istanbul from redevelopment. It turned into a mass demonstration by tens of thousands opposed to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

“You saw the foreign media’s attitude during the Gezi Park incidents; they bought it and started broadcasting immediately, before any assessment was made,” Atalay said.

In a statement, Atalay denied the media reports that cited him as blaming the Jewish Diaspora for the unrest.

“In his speech, [he] has never intended, uttered or indicated anything to offend Jewish citizens of Turkey or Jewish communities around the world,” the statement said.

Last month as the protests surged, Erdogan said that Israel was pleased with the unrest.

In response to Atalay’s remarks, the Turkish Jewish community in a joint statement with the country’s chief rabbinate said it was trying to get more information about the remarks, including their meaning and content.

“However, we would like to express our concern that all Jews around the world, including Turkish Jews, may be affected and become the target because of this sort of generalization,” the statement said, also expressing “worry of the consequences that such perceptions can cause.”

Approximately 23,000 Turkish Jews are living in a Muslim country of 76 million.

(This brief has been updated)

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