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When the First Jewish Wedding in 41 Years Triggers Torrent of Hate Speech

— A historic wedding in western Turkey triggered a deluge of anti-Semitic hate speech online, a leader of that country’s Jewish community said.

Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, president of the Jewish Community of Turkey, said this on Sunday after some social network users responded with hate speech to his invitation to watch a live streaming video of the first Jewish wedding in 41 years that was held in the city of Edirne near Turkey’s border with Greece.

“Many anti-Semites regurgitated their hatred in Periscope,” he said in reference to the video streaming social networking service that offered the live feed from the wedding at the Great Synagogue of Edirne, which reopened last year after decades of disuse following a five-year government-sponsored restoration. “They are the reason for Islamophobia. Hand in hand, we will overcome them.”

Some users wrote “kill the Jews,” the news site nrg reported Sunday. One user wrote: “Such a pity that Hitler didn’t finish the job.” Others referenced “occupied Palestine” in commenting about the wedding.

On Twitter, Ibrahimzadeh urged the Turkish justice ministry and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Inquiry to investigate the people responsible for the hate speech for inciting racist hatred. “Don’t the comments on Periscope about the Edirne synagogue constitute a hate crime?” Ibrahimzadeh demanded.

Edirne has very few Jews and almost all of the hundreds of guests attending the wedding ceremony ceremony of Güneş Mitrani and her husband, Harun Esenturk, came from Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey and beyond. Among the guests was Edirne Mayor Recep Gürkan.

At the Edirne synagogue, guests were under heavy police security. A Turkish television crew filmed police scanning flower arrangements with metal detectors at the entrance.

Still, the guests seemed unburdened by the phenomenon observed by Ibrahimzadeh. Dressed in designer suits and white kippahs, the guests appeared to be in high spirits inside the ornate interior of the massive, cream-colored building. In a moment of levity, the guests cheered and whistled as a relative of the bride lifted the hem of her wedding dress to show off her white shoes.

After the ceremony, guests danced Hora — a Balkan dance that is also popular in Israel.


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