Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Turkish social media have increased since the start of Turkey’s coronavirus outbreak, said Avlaremoz, a group that reports on Jewish affairs in the country.
“In Turkey, we can see constant anti-Semitism in social media, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram,” reported the Jerusalem Post, quoting Dani Albukrek, a Jewish Turk living in Istanbul, as saying.
Turkish Twitter accounts celebrated after Israel declared its first confirmed COVID-19 infection, the Israeli newspaper said, and when Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu temporarily resigned over an abrupt lockdown announcement, tweets accused Jews of being behind the scandal.
Albukrek, who helps follow hate speech for Avlaremoz, said while he and his family did not fear for their lives, they were concerned for the safety of the Jewish community in Turkey.
Nesi Altaras, an editor with Avlaremoz, told the Jerusalem Post the rise in new conspiracy theories emerged from the pandemic and many of them ended up “going to an anti-Semitic place”.
“The pandemic has just fueled the fire of pre-existing Turkish anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories about Jews,” said Altaras, giving an example of a report on Israel’s vaccine development that was followed by social media comments that the country would find a vaccine because it was the one that created the coronavirus.
Conspiracy theories promoted online “can be used to rationalise crises and instability that has marked Turkish politics for the last two decades”, said Berk Esen, an assistant professor of international relations at Bilkent University in the Turkish capital Ankara.
“These [events] are quite difficult to digest, if you will, for ordinary citizens… Many people go for these kinds of quick, shortcut answers,” he said. “It’s a much easier answer than to come up with sophisticated political analysis.”