Turkish soldiers in historical Ottoman janissary outfits, march during a ceremony, one of many marking the 743rd anniversary of the death of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, in Konya, Turkey, December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
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The use by a senior Turkish official of a pejorative word meaning "infidel," widely used in Ottoman times to describe non-Muslims, has sparked accusations of hate speech and fears of discrimination against minorities. In a speech earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus used the word "gavur" ("infidel"), prompting an outcry from Turkey's Armenian minority.However within the borders of modern Turkey, there are just tens of thousands – mainly Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians – as well as a significant Jewish community.Turkey's Human Rights Association lodged a complaint at an Istanbul prosecutor's office, accusing Kurtulmus of breaching the universal human rights declaration to which Ankara is a party, as well as the Turkish penal code.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AK Party had in the early years of their rule been hailed for improving the rights of Turkey's minorities, also taking tentative steps toward reconciliation with Armenia.In 2015, Jews were targeted 531 times and Armenians 459 times, the organization said. Non-Muslims were targeted 65 times over several cases including the use of the word "infidel".
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