Turkey arrests imams preaching sermons in Kurdish

Nine imams have been arrested for preaching sermons in Kurdish, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news reported on Saturday.

28 imams including DİAY-DER head Ekrem Baran were detained as part of a police operation carried out on July 3 against members of the Democratic Islamic Congress (DİK) and Religious Scholars Association (DIAY-DER) in Istanbul.

During their detention, the imams were asked "Why they did not read the khutbah of the Diyanet” and “Why they preached sermons in Kurdish”.

One of the imams, İbrahim Yalın who was detained for seven days and released on condition of judicial control, said that the door of his house was broken during the police raid, and he was subjected to psychological violence by the police.

“Many of our imams are accused of preaching in Kurdish. If preaching in Kurdish is a crime, half of Turkey is guilty as well,” Yalın said.

A religious scholar Fahrettin Ülgün said that the police asked them whether they collect money for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which Turkey considers as a “terrorist organization”.

Hüseyin Boğatekin, lawyer of the arrested DİK and DİAY-DER members and member of the Lawyers' Association for Freedom (ÖHD) said that Kurdish language is criminalized by the Turkish authorities.