World leaders condemn deadly shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue
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World leaders condemn deadly shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue

Merkel says dead were likely victims of ‘blind anti-Semitic hatred’; Turkish president extends ‘heartfelt condolences’ to families of victims, American people

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

From left: Cody Murphy, 17, Sabrina Weihrauch, and Amanda Godley, all of Pittsburgh, hug after an active shooter situation at Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Andrew Stein/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
From left: Cody Murphy, 17, Sabrina Weihrauch, and Amanda Godley, all of Pittsburgh, hug after an active shooter situation at Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Andrew Stein/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was one of the first world leaders on Saturday evening to condemn the deadly attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, during which a suspected white supremacist gunman killed at least 11 people.

“I condemn the terror attack against a Pittsburgh synagogue and extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the American people,” he posted to his Twitter account.

“Turkey unequivocally condemns all forms of terrorism in all parts of the world regardless of their targets,” he said.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was the first senior statesman to publicly comment on the shooting.

“Terrible tragedy at Pittsburgh synagogue made even worse by the fact that today is International Freedom of Religion Day,” he tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families affected. UK will always stand firm against anti-semitism but so sad we still have to say so.”

A few moments later, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “deeply shocked” about the shooting. “Our thoughts are with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and all those affected by this sickening and cowardly act.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she mourned for the dead in Pittsburg, saying they were likely the victims of “blind anti-Semitic hatred.” She added: “We all must confront anti-Semitism resolutely — everywhere.”

A spokesperson for European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Saturday’s attack “shows the magnitude of a wave of anti-Semitism and racism that is spreading in many countries.”

“The European Union expresses its sincere condolences to the families and friends of those affected by today’s attack, as well as to the US authorities We stand in solidarity with the community of the synagogue of Pittsburgh and with all the Jewish communities around the world in this moment. The EU reaffirms its strong condemnation for anti-Semitism as well as for any incitement to hatred and violence. We have experienced on our continent the devastating and unforgivable consequences of antisemitism and hatred that can never be forgotten; as European institutions, we won’t stop working to protecting the fundamental right of belief, wherever it’s questioned or attacked,” the spokesperson went on.

French President Emmanual Macron called the attack a “horrific act of anti-Semitism,” and said, “All my thoughts to the victims and my sympathy for their beloved ones.”

At least three foreign diplomats stationed in Israel also responded to the event on Saturday evening.

“Today the residents of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill community are in mourning in the aftermath of a terrorist shooting attack shattering Tree of Life synagogue’s Shabbat services,” US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted. “We are heartbroken and pray for the victims and their families, including the brave police.”

The Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv said it was “heartbroken” by the murder of Jews in Pittsburgh, and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

“This horrific event is yet another sign of #antisemitism that must be strongly condemned. We stand by all Jews and Israeli people in this tragic moment.”

The Italian Foreign Minister Moavero Milanesi later tweeted “his deepest condolences [and] thoughts to the victims’ families, wishing a prompt recovery to those injured.”

“Strongest condemnation of violence based on hatred [and] religious discrimination,” he added.

Poland’s ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski, denounced the shooting as a “horrendous act of terror and barbarism,” and expressed “heartfelt condolences” to Friedman and the US ambassador in Warsaw.

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