Turkey-Israel concert for religious tolerance canceled due to IHH pressure
'Three Religions' concert to be held in Istanbul canceled at last minute after IHH and other Islamic organizations claim Israel participation in event 'unacceptable' and a 'provocation'.
A Turkish concert meant to bridge the religious divide between Jews, Christians and Muslims was canceled at the last minute Thursday due to pressure from a Turkish humanitarian NGO, according to a Channel 10 report.
Members of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief foundation (IHH) along with other Islamic organizations demanded that organizers cancel the "Three Religions" concert to be held in Istanbul, claiming that Israeli participation in the event was "unacceptable".
"This [the call for cancellation of the concert] is an act of people and not the government," Hussein Arutch told Channel 10, identifying himself as an IHH member who was aboard the Mavi Marmara Gaza-bound flotilla last year. Nine activists were killed by Israel Defense Forces soldiers when the ship attempted to breach a naval blockade on Gaza in May of last year.
Arutch told Channel 10 that the decision to hold the concert so close to the one-year-anniversary of the flotilla incident was "unacceptable", adding that they are not against the concert itself, but rather events organized by Israel's consulate in Turkey, calling it a "provocation".
The IHH activist said that Israel owes the Turkish government an apology, and that Israel's attempt to hold an event in Istanbul "only makes the problem worse".
"We will not allow for the normalization of relations of relations [with Israel] after nine of our people were killed aboard the flotilla, and so long as the siege and occupation persist in Palestine."
The Israeli Consulate in Turkey expressed deep disappointment over the last-minute cancellation, saying that it was due to Turkish, not Israeli pressure that the event was cancelled.
Israel's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Yigal Palmor said that "it is no surprise that the IHH opposes an event that's main focus is tolerance between religions. Whoever has a terrorist attitude pulls out a gun whenever they hear the word culture."