Thursday, April 7, 2011

BDP Going After the Religious Vote?

From Milliyet (translated by World Bulletin):
Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş has called on Kurds in the country's Southeast not to pray behind state imams on the grounds that they are spying for the state and working to promote the government.

Speaking to the Milliyet daily, Demirtaş claimed that the list of imams sent to the country's predominantly Southeast is made at National Security Council (MGK) meetings as he said: "Those imams are selected by the MGK and then sent here. We ask our people not to pray behind those imams who are sent here with a special mission. There are imams working for the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] there."

Demirtaş claimed that those imams are imposing Turkishness and statism on the people.

Last month, the BDP made an announcement calling on Turkey's Kurdish population to stage acts of civil disobedience.

Demirtaş's statements came as a response to the recent statements of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accused the BDP of plaguing religion with separatism. Demirtaş also dwelled on the Kurdish sermon issue and asked Erdoğan why sermons in Kurdish are not allowed in mosques in the country's Southeast.

He said the rules in the mosques should not be made by the state, but by those attending the mosque, and that sermons in Kurdish should be allowed. "Everyone listens to sermons in Kurdish in the mass prayers held in city squares in the Southeast. Mosques are not the homes of the state, but Allah. The rules in the mosques should be set by the people attending that mosque, not by the state. If the state is deciding which language is going to be spoken in mosques, this has nothing to do with religion. Let people pray in the way they want," he said.
The BDP's politics are starkly secular, but recently it has made efforts to court more religious voters who over the years have been inclined to vote for the AKP. The PKK was suspected of killing two imams last year.

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