Turkey denounces Brussels Jewish museum attack

Turkey denounces Brussels Jewish museum attack

Foreign ministry says it's committed to fighting intolerance and xenophobia, hopes shooter will be brought to justice

People pay their respects in front of a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/GEORGES GOBET)
People pay their respects in front of a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/GEORGES GOBET)

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Thursday a shooting attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels that left four people dead on May 24, and expressed hope that the Belgian government would bring the perpetrators of the act to justice shortly.

“We condemn the armed attack perpetrated in front of the Jewish Museum, and express our condolences to the relatives and family members of the four people who lost their lives,” a statement issued by the ministry read.

“We support the Belgian Government’s efforts towards arresting the perpetrators of this attack in the shortest possible time and shedding light on the causes of this serious incident.”

The ministry stressed that Turkey was committed to combating religious intolerance and xenophobia, both of which pose a “threat to humanity.”

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council denounced the Brussels attack as well.

“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, especially against an institution whose mission has always been to promote openness and tolerance,” a statement issued by the international body read, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The council also reaffirmed its opposition to the use of terror in any form and for any reason, and acknowledged that the attack may have had an “anti-Semitic motivation behind it.”

The Security Council’s condemnation follows that of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who expressed “shock” on Sunday and also condemned all forms of “racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.” He passed on his condolences to the families of the victims.

While Belgian authorities have officially said that the attack on the museum was most likely a racially motivated hate crime, the authorities began earlier in the week to probe possible terror connections.

Federal prosecution spokeswoman Wenke Roggen said the fact that the attack lasted only a minute and a half have led authorities to believe there could be a terrorist motive. Deputy public prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch added that the identity of the two Israeli victims also figured heavily into the decision.

The Israeli victims were a couple in their 50s said to have worked for the government, Miriam and Emmanuel Riva.

Emanuel was said by Belgian and Israeli news reports to have once worked for Nativ, a government agency that played a covert role in fostering Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union.

Along with Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, and its domestic security equivalent, the Shin Bet, the Nativ agency was under the authority of the Prime Minister’s Office.

All four victims of the shooting, who included a French woman who did volunteer work at the museum and the 24-year-old Belgian museum employee, were hit by bullets to the face and neck.

The young Belgian was said by Jewish leaders to have died Sunday of injuries sustained in the Saturday afternoon shooting but Van Wymersch said he was still alive but “clinically dead.”

Three chilling security camera videos show the gunman, wearing a cap and sunglasses, but with his features hard to make out, walk into the museum entrance, remove a Kalashnikov-style automatic rifle from a bag and then shoot through a door before making an exit.

Van Wymersch refused to confirm or deny reports that a camera was strapped to one of the two bags he was carrying, enabling him to film the attack in the same way as did Mohammed Merah, the Frenchman who shot dead several Jews in Toulouse two years ago.

Times of Israel staff, JTA, AFP and AP contributed to this report.

read more: