Istanbul mayor responds to French name debate

Istanbul mayor responds to French name debate

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul mayor responds to French name debate

A charming Istanbul venue named after a French Orientalist stirs unexpected debate. REUTERS photo

Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Vahit Kiler has launched a campaign to change the name of Pierre Loti Hill in Istanbul’s Eyüp district to Bitlisli İdris, which he claims is the original name of the famous Istanbul landmark.

The hill was originally known as İdris Hill due to a house belonging to someone named İdris located on the hill, The name was changed in 1934 to that of the famous French novelist, Pierre Loti.

People in the eastern province of Bitlis were deeply saddened when they discovered that İdris, a local from Bitlis, had his named replaced by that of a foreigner, Kiler said, according to daily Akşam.

Kiler said they were gathering the necessary documents to make an official proposal to change the name of the hill and were now planning meetings with Istanbul’s mayor and other related officials.

Loti lived from 1850 to 1923. During his time as a naval officer, Loti traveled extensively and gathered material for his future novels in places such as Tahiti, Turkey, Senegal and Japan. He was a reputed lover of Istanbul and devoted many of his literary works to the city. In spite of his Orientalist views he received a positive critical reception from Turkish intellectuals.

Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbaş also commented on Kiler’s words. He said it would be wrong to decide something on the issue before historians weigh in with their opinions.