Anti-Semitism in Erdogan’s Turkey is a feature, not a bug

In Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s post-coup purge of any entity deemed to have the slightest opposition to his authoritarian rule, he’s closed down 187 media outlets under the guise of being Gülenist – a synonym for any Turk not fawning at the feet of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

But even before summer 2016’s short-lived coup, the Turkish president was embarking on a war against free speech. Bugün TV, which was stormed on a live broadcast two years ago by government forces unleashing tear gas, water cannons and gate cutters, was seized by the regime “to prevent crime.”

After the coup attempt, confiscated media outlets went on sale. The state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund found a buyer for the TV station: the killer of a Jewish businessman.

 Sancaktar Media owner Burhanettin Türkeş was convicted in the 1995 murder of Nesim Malki, who was shot while driving in the northwestern city of Bursa. Türkeş was sent to prison in 2004 and released five years later.

Now, Türkeş is promising to tow the Erdoğan line in Bugün TV’s programming.

It’s not a surprising turn of events under a regime where anti-Semitism is a feature, not a bug, and the Gülen boogeyman meme takes on shades of “must be the Jews” as well. Pro-Erdoğan media have claimed that exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen must have Jewish lineage, thereby putting Jews at the center of the supposed coup plot.

“Fethullah Gülen is sharp witted. He quickly smells of money and power. Because he is a Jew. That’s the reason he loves Israel almost to the point of sickness,” Sabah columnist Ersin Ramoğlu wrote in December. “…Where his cunning comes from, why the CIA has gotten hold of him and his love of Israel can be understood from the family of this clown.”

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