Bedouin in Desert

Language censorship: Turkey unveils reforms; aimed at Kurds

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has announced a package of reform proposals, including lifting some restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language and on wearing Islamic headscarves. This bit in particular caught my attention:

"Kurdish groups had also demanded that Erdogan go further on liberalizing restrictions on the use of their language, so that Kurdish children would have the right to education in their mother tongue.

Kurds see current restrictions as one of the key tools of cultural repression in Turkey, and the issue has been a source of tension that has fueled more than 30 years of violent conflict. Kurds make up 20 percent of Turkey's nearly 75 million citizens.

Erdogan's proposal would allow private schools to have some classes in Kurdish. The reforms would also allow the letters q, w and x, which are part of the Kurdish alphabet but not the Turkish one, to be used in official documents.

The seemingly narrow grammatical law had become a nationalist issue on both sides, forcing Kurds, for instance, to spell their traditional spring festival of "Newroz" the Turkish way: "Nevroz." The restrictions have been used to prosecute activists and journalists."

( Original Link, via BBC Magazine Monitor )

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