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Why does Aynur forgive Turkish racists?

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You must have heard that Aynur Dogan was protested by Turkish audience during a jazz concert in Istanbul. Hard to imagine but for singing in Kurdish.

This happens on July 14. The day when 13 Turkish soldiers were bombarded by Turkish Air Force during a confrontation with PKK guerillas, during which PKK has lost two of its guerillas. It needs to be mentioned that PKK and its guerillas are in what they call ‘legitimate defense’ position. They avoid any confrontation with the Turkish troops as much as possible and do not attack back unless directly targeted.

It should be hardly possible for any civilized person to imagine a nonpolitical Kurdish singer singing at an international Jazz Festival being protested for the language of the songs she sings. Well, when it is about Kurds and Kurdish in Turkey this is how it happens.

There is a well written article in Turkish Bianet written in English to which you can access by clicking this link. However, there is one detail of the incident which is not in the copied article but shared in Turkish newspapers. I have some comments about that.

According to the Turkish media, Aynur was interviewed that very same night and she told to the interviewer at the end of their conversation that she forgave the protesters. My mind protests to this. First of all, we need to be clear about what we are talking: racism. The protest of a bunch of Turkish racists. Moreover, it is not that they are against the Jazz Festival continuing without any mourning. They would not be at the festival if they were. The protest is against a Kurdish singer singing in Kurdish.

So then, why does Aynur forgive racists that very same night while still living the shock of the incident?

Aynur’s weak stance against racism tells me the strength of racism in the Turkish society which is the society she lives in. In polarized societies such as the Turks, likes of Aynur would not have many choices. She must have considered her options as follows:

  • Lose the audience option: Take a strong stance against racism and accept being refused from many concerts in Istanbul, and in Turkey general, so retreat to Europe or Kurdistan.
  • Keep the audience option: Retreat, forgive without any apology and imagine this to be survival. Then the question is, until when?

Aynur has the right to approach from commerce point of view. It can be criticized but in the end is an individual’s choice. My question however is a different one. Why is there no society of Kurdish singers in western Turkey to defend their rights and create public pressure against similar incidents. How can they be so defenseless?

Kurds in Istanbul is a reality and it falls upon them to organize themselves for their rights. Forgiving racism should not be an option. It will only encourage the racists for more. If they want to keep audience, they should fight for their ‘space’. If they don’t, they will find themselves unwillingly chosing the first option.


Written by M. Husedin

16 July 2011 at 10:53 PM

Posted in Diaspora

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