Lebanon summons Turkish ambassador after president raised Ottoman era atrocities

Lebanon's director of consular affairs, Ghadi Khoury (right) speaks to the Turkish ambassador Hakan Cakil after he was summoned to the foreign ministry in Beirut on Tuesday. (NNA)
Updated 03 September 2019

Lebanon summons Turkish ambassador after president raised Ottoman era atrocities

  • President Michel Aoun referred to violence and killing during the Ottoman occupation of what became the state of Lebanon
  • Turkey claimed the speech was 'baseless and biased'

BEIRUT: Lebanon summoned the Turkish ambassador on Tuesday over a war of words relating to atrocities carried out during the Ottoman empire. 

Beirut has been angered by a statement from the Turkish foreign ministry issued in response to a speech by President Michel Aoun, which referred to violence and killing during the Ottoman occupation of what became the state of Lebanon.

Hakan Cakil was ordered to attend the foreign ministry and asked for “clarifications about the statement and for clear correction of the mistake made by the Turkish side, to avoid misunderstanding and in preservation of the special bilateral ties.”

Speaking on Saturday to mark the centennial of the formation of Greater Lebanon, Aoun referred to the “state terror practiced by the Ottomans against the Lebanese, especially during World War I.”

He said there had been “hundreds of thousands of victims between famine, conscription and forced labor, without omitting the gallows through which they wanted to annihilate the spirit of emancipation and rebellion.”

On Sunday, the Turkish foreign ministry issued an angry response, accusing Aoun’s speech of being “baseless and biased.” It also said “terror” had not taken place under Ottoman rule.

The row comes shortly after a visit to Lebanon by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”