Young Jews emigrating “in masses” from Turkey

Turkey's national mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque located in Istanbul is Turkey’s national mosque. (Photo: CIA World Fact Book)

Turkey’s people are struggling among themselves over how the Muslim faith affects their government.

Amid public dialog about the wearing of headscarves and co-ed living arrangements in private homes, there’s a troubling indication of a sharper decline in religious tolerance. Jews feel compelled to leave the country. 

Ynetnews.com reported in late October:

“Young Jews are emigrating from Turkey in masses, mainly to the United States and different European countries, due to growing anti-Semitism and the negative attitude in the country towards Israel.”

Ynet said the Jewish community is quiet about it, with one young man claiming, “They can’t talk about it.” It’s estimated there are only 25,000 Jews left in Istanbul, the largest city in the country. Istanbul’s population is approximately 13.85 million.

City government claims Istanbul is among the safest cities in the world despite its “highly dense population.”

One immigrant to Israel said, “[I]n 16 years Turkey may not even be a democratic country anymore.”

Ynet quoted another man who left Turkey:

“The Muslims in Turkey fail to distinguish between Israel and the local Jews. As far as they are concerned, if you’re not Muslim you’re not a Turk. You can even serve in the army and have a significant Turkish identity, but in their eyes that doesn’t count. They are not even interested in understanding. If you’re Jewish – you’re not Turkish.”

Meanwhile, Hurriyet Daily News, a major media outlet in Turkey, reported on the Turkish government’s clampdown on speech, suggesting it’s “an apparent move to prevent political propaganda on university campuses.”

Jews, Christians and other faiths are minuscule minorities in Turkey, with Sunni Muslims making up 99.8 percent of the population.

(Filed by Kay B. Day/Nov. 8, 2013)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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