Turkey synagogue
Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday July 9, 2003
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Turkish security forces have arrested a man for allegedly plotting to kill Istanbul rabbis, the French news agency AFP reported Friday, relying on an earlier report by the Turkey daily Milliyet.

İsmet Rençber, a man in his 20s, was detained, according to the AFP report, upon his arrival in Istanbul after tracking him for sending an anonymous threat to the city's main synagogue.

Rençber reportedly told investigators that he "hated Jews," but denied any intent to harm members of the city's Jewish community. He been charged and is being held in an Istanbul prison.

Turkish police declined to comment on the case.

Tensions between Israel and Turkey have risen sharply over Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla, which resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish citizens.

Earlier this month, a Turkish newspaper editor told the European Jewish Press on that Turkey's Jewish community feared that the backlash over the flotilla raid would provoke anti-Semitism in the Muslim-majority nation.

The editor of the Istanbul-based weekly Salom, Ivo Molinas, said Wednesday that "we are definitely worried, because [the anger in Turkey] can turn very easily to anti-Semitism."

"The rhetoric used by the Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has been very radical," added Molinas, part of the 20,000-member Jewish community residing in Turkey.

"But the Prime Minister also said yesterday [Tuesday] that he was against anti-Semitism. He says it during each crisis but he repeated it yesterday," said Molinas, whose newspaper has a circulation of around 5,000.
"Both he and the leaders of the opposition have said that all of this will have no effect on the Jews of Turkey," he added.

About 26,000 Jews live in Turkey, mostly in Istanbul, where some 20 synagogues are active, according to the European Jewish Press.