07 June 2011, Tuesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which has launched a civil disobedience campaign in recent months, was able to have the call to prayer, or adhan, recited in Kurdish for the first time, the Star daily reported on Tuesday.
The adhan was recited in Turkish during the single-party period, when the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was in power, from 1932 following a circular from the Directorate of Religious Affairs through to 1950. The call to prayer was recited in Arabic again after the Democrat Party’s (DP) victory in the 1950 general elections, which also marked the end of the single-party period in Turkey.
Since 1950, reciting the adhan in another language has been on the agenda again. Before the Friday prayer on May 20, the adhan was recited in Kurdish in the Democratic Solution and Peace Tent set up by a local BDP branch in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa’s Suruç district, a BDP municipality. During Friday prayers, performed by Imam Abdullah Karsak the following week, the sermon’s content was not religious but political. The imam said the state continues policies of denial and destruction against Kurds and ignores their pleas.
Speaking to Star, BDP Şanlıurfa provincial head Müslüm Kaplan said the Kurdish recitation of the adhan will continue. “Worship [will be] carried out in Kurdish. The Kurdish adhan started last week as well. In the processes to come, the adhan will continue to be recited in the dominant language of the community.”
The BDP’s Bengi Yıldız, an independent deputy candidate from Batman, said he did not know about the Kurdish adhan and told the daily: “I heard about it first from you. The issue has never been discussed at the BDP and there have been no decisions made about this issue. I don’t understand how it came about.”
During the single-party period, the Turkish adhan was first read on Jan. 29, 1932 de facto, while it became a legal obligation after a notice was published on July 18, 1932 in the Official Gazette. The text for the adhan in Turkish was sent to the General Directorate of Foundations at the time. In notices sent to muftis, it was stated that the adhan must be recited in Turkish and imams who insisted on reciting it in Arabic would be severely punished. Imams who did not recite the adhan in Turkish were detained by gendarmes and many imams were tortured. After the DP came to power in 1950, the ban on reciting the adhan in Arabic was removed.
In the meantime, Kurdish intellectual and politician Yılmaz Çamlıbel said in an interview with Star that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has close ties with the BDP, imitated Kemalist policies, which are based on unitary authority. While highlighting that the sectarian approach of the PKK has infected the Kurdish question, Çamlıbel said the terrorist organization attempts to gather all Kurds under one ideology, one party, one flag, one class, one language, one religion and sect, like the Kemalist unitary authority did in the past. “They say they are the undisputable representatives of the Kurds. The Kurdish problem is a national problem. Thus, it can only be solved through national unity and national projects,” he said.
“The conditions push the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] to carry out reforms and take steps on the Kurdish problem. The deep state in Turkey, the Turkish military, Kemalists and national leftists have tried to prevent this,” he added.