Turkish police confiscate Kurdish title at book fair in Batman

Turkish police have confiscated a book on a Kurdish uprising on display at a publisher’s stand in the southeastern Turkish city of Batman and detained the staff at the stand, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday.

The Avesta publishing house had been showcasing its author-historian Jalile Jalil’s book on Sheikh Ubeydullah and the Kurdish Uprising of 1880 at the second Batman Book Fair last weekend when Turkish police arrived to confiscate the book on the grounds that it had been banned.

Avesta released a statement saying this latest incident marks the 13th title to be banned this year alone. The publisher, which frequently releases academic works focused on Kurdish history and politics, said the ban was “arbitrary and unlawful” and called for an end to the prohibition.

The work by Jalil, a prominent Yazidi Kurdologist currently at the Academy of Sciences in Vienna, explored the uprising by Sheikh Ubeydullah against the Iranian Qajar regime in the late 19th century.

The sheikh is an early Kurdish nationalist figure who led an armed uprising against the Qajars in an attempt to establish a Kurdish state before being forced to retreat to Ottoman lands, where he finally surrendered.

Turkish repression of the Kurdish political movement has ramped up since fighting resumed between state forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after peace talks broke down in 2015.

Turkish President Erdoğan: ‘He may be Kurdish, but…’

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday spoke up in defense of former Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, whose spat with chairman of the ruling AKP’s ally the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli over ethnicity is making headlines.

A lawmaker of Kurdish origin, Bozdağ spoke out against the decision by the country’s Council of State to reintroduce the Student Oath into the country’s primary schools earlier this month, calling it a violation of both the constitution and the law.

“He may be Kurdish; however, he is a friend of ours who has served this nation,’’ Erdoğan said about Bozdağ during the AKP parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

Erdoğan’s statements follow those of Bahçeli, who said: “Mr. Bozdağ may say he’s Kurdish and he’s free to do so. There is nobody telling him what to do. … The Turkish nation has carried him to the best and highest of positions [in the state]. But don’t let him think that he can abuse the Turkish nation.’’

Erdoğan hit back at Bahçeli, saying: “How can you say that you are not prejudiced and then proceed to insult and threaten our friend who has served as a minister for years? We will not tolerate a threat against any of our friends.’’ Erdoğan added, “We don’t have any problem with Turkishness.’’

The MHP and the AKP have been at odds for the last two months over the MHP’s proposal for a general amnesty and a more recent debate about an oath reintroduced into primary schools this month, following a decision by the Council of State. (SCF with Ahval)

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