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Turkish PM calls Zionism crime against humanity

Israel's prime minister accused his Turkish counterpart on Thursday of making a "dark and false" statement by calling Zionism a crime against humanity. The Turkish premier made the statement at a U.N. meeting in Vienna a day earlier. "Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become impossible not to see Islamophobia as a crime against humanity," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said at the U.N. Alliance of Civilisations forum, according to Turkish media reports. "Unfortunately, the modern globe did not give a good test on the Syrian issue," Erdogan emphasized. "When the number of those killed in the past two years in Syria has reached around 70,000, and when dozens of innocent children, women and civilians get killed in Syria, the world's silence seriously hurts the feelings for justice," Erdogan underlined. "In a similar fashion, I must state that rising racism in Europe is a serious problem for the Alliance of Civilizations Project," Erdogan said.

"Aside from countries indifferent to Muslim countries, disrespectful attitude towards Muslims living out of certain countries continues to hurt consciences," Erdogan stated.

We witness very frequently the alienation of the 'other' in various countries instead of efforts to understand the culture and beliefs of the 'other', Erdogan stressed.

"Certain politicians' defamation of a religion or a sect by mass communication tools only makes pre-conceived notions bigger and deepens the gap," Erdogan indicated.

Ties between Israel and mostly Muslim Turkey have been frosty since 2010, when Israeli commandos killed 9 turkish activists after raiding their ship carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza, under an Israeli blockade.

No one was immediately available from Turkey's foreign ministry to comment on the new criticism from the rabbis or from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Zionist movement

A statement from the Israeli premier's office said he "strongly condemns (Erdogan's) statement about Zionism and its comparison to Nazism."

The Zionist movement was the main force behind occupying Palestine and leading exodus of Palestinians after attacks and assassinations.

"This is a dark and false pronouncement the likes of which we thought had passed into history," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief rabbi of Moscow and the head of the Conference of European Rabbis, said Erdogan's criticism of Zionism amounted to "anti-Semitism".

The White House also condemned the remarks. "We reject Prime Minister Erdogan's characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity, which is offensive and wrong," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. "We encourage people of all faiths, cultures, and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times," he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also said on Friday that Erdogan's description of Zionism as a crime against humanity was "hurtful and divisive",

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