October 01, 2012 | 00:14
ISTANBUL. – An Istanbul court made a ruling on the lawsuit filed by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who had sued the author of the book entitled “Engineer Kemal: Son of Dersim Armenian [Woman] Yemus” and noted that a slander campaign was launched against him by way of ethnic identity.
The court, however, ruled that the harsh and crude expressions used in the book are within the parameters of freedom of speech specified by the European Convention on Human Rights, Istanbul’s Agos Armenian bilingual weekly reports.
According to the ruling, the expressions used in the book do not jeopardize Kilicdaroglu’s political career and his professional and personal life.
To note, the aforesaid book was distributed in the Turkish parliament in February 2011, and it included offensive expressions against the CHP leader, and his mother’s being Armenian was portrayed from an offensive point of view.
As a result, Kemal Kilicdaroglu had filed a claim for compensation and demanded that the court order the collection of the book’s copies from bookstores.
Shades of Obama
Kılıçdaroğlu is a member of the minority Alevi sect that is particular to Turkey. (The Alevis are known for their liberal interpretation of Islam; they neither fast during Ramadan nor pray in mosques). He hails from a humble family in Tunceli, a largely Alevi and Kurdish province in the southeast that is notorious for its popular rebellions. His mother is said to be an ethnic Armenian. (His wife, a maternal cousin, must therefore be half Armenian.) Kılıçdaroğlu told me in an interview that he was not Kurdish but from a Turkmen tribe that migrated from Iran centuries ago. Yet his family speaks a Kurdish dialect known as Zazaki.
This diverse background invites comparisons with President Obama. Yet, like Obama, the CHP leader plays his background down and, despite it, managed to claw his way into the Turkish bureaucracy, where he held several influential posts. An economist by training, Kılıçdaroğlu rose through the ranks of the Finance Ministry and became the head of the Social Security Agency before entering politics in 1999.