9 Kurdish imams arrested in Turkey’s Istanbul for preaching in Kurdish: sources
Islamic, Islamic preachers, politicians, activists and journalists are seen outside a court in Istanbul after nine Kurdish imams were detained for preaching in Kurdish language Turkey,. Screengrab by Medya News
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI – Nine Kurdish imams were apprehended by the Turkish authorities in Istanbul for preaching in their mother tongue in an operation launched on July 3, Kurdish language, a local news outlet said on Saturday (July 10).
Arrest warrants were issued for 28 imams including head and members of the Democratic Islamic Congress (DİK) and Religious Scholars Association (DIAY-DER) in Istanbul by a court after they had preached in Kurdish, according to Mezopotamya Agency.
Head of DIAY-DER Ekrem Baran said that the imams, Islamic preachers, were asked "Why they did not read the khutbah of the Diyanet? and “Why they preached sermons in Kurdish?”.
“The door of my house was broken during the police raid, and I was subjected to psychological violence by the police,” İbrahim Yalın, another imam, said, who was detained for seven days before being released on condition of judicial control.
“Many of our imams are accused of preaching in Kurdish. If preaching in Kurdish is a crime, half of Turkey is guilty as well,” Yalın was quoted as saying by the new agency.
Fahrettin Ulgün, a religious scholar, said that “he police asked them whether they collect money for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers as a “terrorist organization."
Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Huda Kaya slammed the arrests, saying that the imams were arrested "because they refused to become the presidency's imams.”
The PKK is a Kurdish opposition group that has started an armed struggle since 1984, calling for Kurds’ cultural rights in Turkey. It is designated by Turkey as a “terrorist organization.”
“Kurdish language is criminalized by the Turkish authorities,” Hüseyin Boğatekin, lawyer of the arrested DİK and DİAY-DER members and member of the Lawyers' Association for Freedom (ÖHD) said.
The Kurdish language and non-Turkish languages have been banned in Turkey’s official settings since the foundation of the Turkish state nearly a century ago.
The restriction was mitigated during the peace process between the PKK and Turkey in 2018. However, the restriction was tightened when the peace process collapsed in 2015.