Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh, this will solve everything:


Turkey to issue Kurdish version of Quran

ANKARA, Turkey: An official says Turkey's government will issue an official version of the Quran in the once-banned Kurdish-language.

Speaking and publishing in the language became legal in 1991 when Kurdish versions of the Quran appeared in bookstores.

Mehmet Gormez, the deputy head of Turkey's state-run religious affairs directorate, says the official version would be an improved interpretation of several existing Kurdish translations.

Today, the language is still barred in schools, parliament and other official settings on the grounds that it would divide the country along ethnic lines. Kurds make up about a fifth of Turkey's more than 70 million people.

When Turkish people proclaim that the Kurdish language is legal in Turkey, they forget that its ilegal in school, in any official setting, in any broadcast done by actual Kurdish people (as opposed to the AKP channel TRT6), that there are no translators for non Turkish speakers (for instance, many Kurdish women, forced from their villages by the Turkish government, their husbands either dead or in exile, do not speak Turkish and they encounter great difficulties in hospitals, police stations or any other government office which does not allow the use of their language. The letters QWX are still ilegal, and that people are still being prosecuted for speaking their own language. Below is an excerpt from the Eurasia Daily Monitor:

In January 2009 the state-owned TV channel TRT 6 launched 24-hour broadcasting in the Kurdish language. Erdogan spoke Kurdish in his welcoming message to TRT 6. Even Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentarians appeared in various programs of Kurdish TRT, speaking in Kurdish and singing Kurdish songs. On February 21 Erdogan went to Diyarbakir and revealed his plan to open Turkey's doors to the famous exiled Kurdish singer Sivan Perwer (Aksam, Radikal, Taraf, February 22).

Perwer's story is another example of irony in Turkey's long-lasting Kurdish debate. Perwer was forced to flee from Turkey in 1976 just for singing a Kurdish song. Since 1976 he has lived in Germany. The name of the song that that led to his exile from Turkey was "Mihemedo." A TV producer was sentenced to five years in prison in 1999 just for playing "Mihemedo" on his local TV station (Yuksekova Haber, December 30, 2008). Ironically, "Mihemedo" is a folk song telling the story of a soldier from the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, who joined the Ottoman Army in World Ward I and lost his life for his country. The same song that caused Perwer to flee the country was the opening song of TRT 6.

TRT 6's 24-hour Kurdish broadcasts and Erdogan's few sentences in Kurdish asking Kurdish singers to return to their country received applause from various segments of society. On February 24 Ahmet Turk, the Chairman of the Kurdish nationalist Democratic Society Party (DTP) stated that "The prime minister is speaking Kurdish. In fact, all people should speak freely in their native language. There should be no problem speaking Kurdish under the roof of parliament. Thus, today I will speak Kurdish in our party session in parliament" (Zaman, February 25). When he began speaking Kurdish, the state-owned TRT 3 TV channel, which televises parliamentary sessions live, stopped broadcasting and issued a statement saying, "The Turkish Constitution and the Law on Political Parties only allow speaking Turkish. In the politic
al party meetings, speaking any other language is not permitted. Therefore, we have to stop broadcasting" (TRT, February 24).