Parliament heated with racism debate

Parliament heated with racism debate

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Parliament heated with racism debate

Sırrı Sakık, a lawmaker from Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), blamed the Republican People’s Party (CHP) for having a long history of racism. AA photo

Lately, the language of politics in Turkey appears to be missing a thread of common sense more often than not as another debate on racism heated up following comments from a Kurdish lawmaker, who claimed Caucasian and Balkan origin citizens “are not the real owners of this country.”

Aftershocks of a debate on nationalism and racism ignited by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Birgül Ayman Güler are still being felt as Parliament saw a severe polemic present among deputies late Jan. 31 concerning racism.

During parliamentary discussions on the establishment of Selahattin Eyyubi University in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, CHP deputy Ali Haydar Öner said that “Turks and Kurds are like twin brothers.”

“Birgül Ayman Güler did not say so,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers sniped, in reference to Güler’s controversial statements in which she said the “Turkish nation” and “Kurdish nationality” are not equals.”

In response, Öner said he totally agreed with Güler. “The Turkish nation and Kurdish nationality are not equals. The Turkish nation and Turkish nationality are not equals either. Turks and Kurds are twins, those who founded the Republic are brothers,” Öner said.

AKP Diyarbakır deputy Cuma İçten, speaking after Öner, denounced the CHP lawmaker and said he did not want to be equal with Öner. “Yes, we are not equal with you, thank God. I don’t want to be equal with you, but you should learn this: We are the owners of this country. We are owners of both Edirne and Diyarbakır. I’m as Turk as Sultan Mehmed the conqueror and as Kurd as Selahaddin Eyyubi; because I’m the owner of Istanbul,” İçten said.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmaker Sırrı Sakık also took the floor and joined the debate, arguing that the CHP has a tradition of racism. “Look at Çanakkale [Battle of Gallipoli – 1915]. Those who are posteriors of this country, those who came to this country from Caucasia and Balkans are not the real owners of this country. You should know your place. No one has the right to insult peoples,” Sakık said.

‘Shameless remarks’

CHP deputy chair Emine Ülker Tarhan harshly criticized Sakık, describing his remarks as “disgusting, shameless and disgraceful.” “Sakık said that no one has the right to insult peoples, that’s right. However, he insulted people who came to Anatolia from all over the world,” she said, adding that she is also a Balkan-origin citizen of Turkey. “Maybe you addressed us, but you were very offensive and hurtful. You repeated previous mistakes and insulted people,” Tarhan said, labeling Sakık’s statement as racist.

In response to Tarhan, Sakık said that he respected all people who consider Turkey their homeland, but he addressed those who humiliated Kurdish people. “Your lawmaker [Güler] says she has Bosniak origin. When you come to this country, you should be respectful to the people of this country,” Sakık said.