TURKISH CLUB OWNER JAILED FOR FIVE MONTHS FOR BANNING JEWS

Ha'aretz
May 27 2009
Israel

A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced a man to five months in prison
for "insulting a section of society" after he put up a banner saying
Jews and Armenians were not allowed to enter his business.

The ruling, which followed a complaint by a local human rights group,
marks a change of public attitude towards minorities in European
Union-aspirant Turkey.

Human rights groups and the EU have long accused Turkey of
discrimination against its minorities.

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Niyazi Capa, who heads a cultural association in the city of Eskisehir,
west of Ankara, put up the banner to protest against Israel's offensive
in Gaza earlier this year, which drew widespread condemnation in
predominantly Muslim Turkey.

However, the easing of curbs on freedom of expression and other liberal
reforms as a result of Ankara's drive to meet European standards have
opened up debate in areas that were previously taboo.

Turkey, which historically has poor relations with Armenia, said
in April it was close to establishing diplomatic relations after
it closed its border with Armenia in 1993. Turkey and Armenia trace
their own dispute back to the First World War killing of Armenians
by Ottoman Turks.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday criticized state
policies that led to the expulsion of tens of thousands of Christian
ethnic Greeks in the 20th century as "fascist."

Erdogan's comments, the first of its kind by a prime minister,
infuriated nationalists and other elements of Turkey's conservative
establishment.