Turkey arrested nine imams for preaching sermons in Kurdish – report

File – People gather outside a court in Istanbul to protest the detention of imams over preaching sermons in Kurdish language (ANF photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Turkey has arrested nine imams for preaching sermons in Kurdish language, according media reports.

As many as 28 imams were detained as part of a police raid carried out on July 3 in Istanbul, Ahval News reported on Saturday.

The operation was carried out against members of the Democratic Islamic Congress (DIK) and Religious Scholars Association (DIYAR-DER).

Some of the imams were released on judicial conditions, according to Firat News Agency (ANF).

The news outlet said the imams were asked, “Why you did not read the Khutbah of the Diyanet” and that “why you preached sermons in Kurdish”.

Ibrahim Yalin, one of the imams who was released seven days after the detention, said the door of his house was broken during the police raid and that he was subjected to psychological violence by the police, Ahval reported.

“Many of our imams are accused of preaching in Kurdish. If preaching in Kurdish is a crime, half of Turkey is guilty as well,” he was quoted as saying.

Huseyin Bogatekin, lawyer for the detainees, said Kurdish language had been “criminalized” by the Turkish authorities.

Religious scholar Fahrettin Ulgun said the police had asked them whether they had collected money for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers as a “terrorist organization”.

The use of the Kurdish language in the public space has been banned for many years in Turkey, but was partially authorized in the 1990s.

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