Atalay's office said in a statement on Tuesday that remarks he made on Monday were misquoted and taken out of context, giving them a different meaning. It added that news outlets had reported his remarks as if Atalay had said “the Jewish Diaspora is behind the Gezi Park events.” “Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has not made such a remark or assessment,” the statement underlined.
The Gezi demonstrations began at the end of May in protest of government plans for the redevelopment of Gezi Park in İstanbul's Taksim Square. The demonstrations spread to other provinces in the country and turned into anti-government protests.
The statement from Atalay's office noted that it becomes clear the deputy prime minister did not target Jewish people when the entire transcript of his speech is read, adding that Atalay only suggested that the international media quickly jumped into the protests and engaged in unfair reporting.
The protests dominated the headlines of major foreign news outlets worldwide after they spread to other Turkish cities in a short period of time due to the police use of pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the thousands of people who had joined the protests.
“There is no sign or phrase targeting Jewish citizens in Turkey or Jewish people in other countries in the speech,” said the statement.
“There are those inside and outside the country who envy Turkey's growth,” Atalay, one of four deputy prime ministers, told reporters on Monday in comments broadcast on the Cihan news agency website.
“They are all uniting. On the one side, you have the Jewish Diaspora. You have seen the foreign media's attitude over the Gezi Park events, how quickly they bought into it and how quickly and widely they started broadcasting before any assessment was made,” he said.
In his Monday remarks, Atalay also said the foreign media played a large role in the conspiracy and skillfully manipulated the unrest. “Those who try to block the way of Great Turkey will not succeed,” added the deputy prime minister.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Jewish Community, which represents most of Turkey's estimated 23,000 Jewish faithful, issued a statement on its website expressing its concerns over the statements by Atalay.
“We are closely following the media and trying to obtain information about the meaning, scope and details of Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay's statement about the Jewish Diaspora being behind the Gezi protests. But, in any case, based on the fact that Turkish-Jewish citizens as well as other Jewish people living all around the globe may be affected and become the target of such generalizations, we wish to express our concerns and share our apprehension and worry about the consequences that such perceptions can cause,” said the statement.
Interior Minister Muammer Güler recently announced that over 600 police officers and thousands of citizens have been wounded during the clashes between protesters and police.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blamed an “interest rate lobby” and the world media for fueling the protests.