Turkish mufti targets Thessaloniki immigrants, Jewish community in Friday sermon

A Turkish mufti has held a hate speech during a Friday sermon, as he said that Thessaloniki immigrants were in fact Jewish, and that the Jewish community prompted the 2013 Gezi protests.

Duvar English

A Turkish mufti has targeted Thessaloniki immigrants and the Jewish community during a Friday sermon on May 21. 

Şaban Soytekinoğlu, Mufti of the western province of Düzce's Akçakoca district, said in his sermon that 90 percent of Thessaloniki immigrants were in fact Jewish, but were disguised as Muslims, and that they were "not in fact Muslim."

Muftis, who are authorized to give legal opinions known as fatwas, are supervised by the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). 

Speaking in the context of the recent Israeli attacks on Palestine, the mufti also claimed that the anti-government Gezi protests of 2013 were prompted by Turkey's Jewish community. 

"Who housed protesters in their hotels?" the mufti asked in reference to Divan Hotel, the Koç Holding establishment that opened up its hotel to demonstrators seeking refuge from police violence during the protests. 

"It was the Jews," Soytekinoğlu said in response to his own question and in reference to the Koç family, whose member Ali Koç is the chairman of football team Fenerbahçe. "They own one hotel and one team," Soytekinoğlu said. 

After the mufti's sermon was shared on social media, it drew the reaction of several factions of society, especially associations of Balkan migrants and fans of the Fenerbahçe sports club. 

The mufti's office and the Karasu Public Prosecutor's Office launched investigations into the mufti in relation to his comments on charges of enticing hatred and animosity.

The investigation will reportedly include social media posts by the mufti and he will also be called in to give a statement.