At the outset, let me state that I have never met Sinem Tezyapar. Tezyapar, a Muslim woman from Turkey who believes in a better and more peaceful world, stands accused of being a spy for Israel. Her trial began this past week in Istanbul. She faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life in jail.
While such cases are unfortunately far from unique in the Muslim world, I got involved in Tezyapar’s case because of the profound injustice involved. I beseech the Turkish Justice Department to examine the facts and only the facts. Tezyapar is not an Israeli spy. She is not a Mossad agent as she has been accused of being. Like so many idealistic and brave people, she simply tried to foster a conversation with the people of Israel.
Tezyapar was an executive producer on Turkish television. She was a political and religious commentator, and a peace activist.
After Iran blamed a deadly 2013 earthquake on Israel, she penned an op-ed titled, “When will the Muslims Stop Blaming their Problems on the Jews?” In it, she wrote: “Whenever a calamity falls upon Muslim majority countries, there is always a country to blame: Israel.”
She quoted a number of examples, including the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack, saying, “This madness of putting the blame on Israel—and Zionists in general—is such a knee-jerk reaction that there is no logical explanation,” and expressing her surprise that “so many people believe in it unquestionably and continue to disseminate these rumors far and wide.”
In another column, titled, “Shameless Anti-Jewish Propaganda is based upon False Hadith,” she attacks what she says is the misuse of the Koran to attack Israel, calling it “an offense to Islam.”
The Hadith are a record of sayings, acts and tacit approval or disapproval attributed to Muhammad.
“One after the other, we see Arab religious and political leaders referring to one specific ‘hadith’ as a propaganda tool against Israel,” she wrote. “I view the interpretation by those who approach the text with the spirit of war against Jewish people as a crime and perceive this as an offense to Islam.”
Islam, she argued in another column, does not command war against the Jews.
No, Tezyapar is no spy. She was imprisoned for her beliefs and her ability to speak them out. It is plain and simple to anyone who can see.
The Western world cannot turn its eyes away from this grave injustice. I call upon world leaders to get involved in the case of Sinem Tezyapar and do the right thing. Once and for all, set her free. The world will be a better place if that happens.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.