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A German Jewish leader is defending a scholar fired for comparing the suffering of Turks in Europe today to Jews under Nazi Germany. Faruk Sen was fired last week by the the Center for Turkish Studies, the Essen institute he had directed since its founding 23 years ago. Sen said he would take the matter to court. Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Monday that Sen has always been a good friend of the Jewish community.

“He is neither a Holocaust relativizer nor an anti-Semite,” Kramer wrote in a letter to the minister of integration of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and to the head of the institute’s board. He called the firing of Sen “senseless.” The institute’s board of directors fired Sen after learning of his comments comparing Jews and Turks through a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. His essay, “Europe’s New Jews” was published May 19 in the Turkish paper Referans. Sen wrote in the essay, “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.”

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