Istanbul mayor rejects criticism over sales of jailed Kurdish politician’s books

Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said the books of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş books could found in all book shops, after government-affiliated media criticised the opposition-run municipality for selling two short story collections by the imprisoned former party leader via its online retailer, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported

“Demirtaş’s books are sold everywhere. Including state institutions,” İmamoğlu said, adding that the book was also available in the Turkish parliament’s library. “It is also available in bookstores close to the government,” the mayor said. 

İmamoğlu said only the courts had the authority to ban a book in Turkey and said that media reports accusing the municipality of terrorist propaganda for selling the books aimed at deepening hostility in society. 

Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has written two books of short stories since he was jailed in November 2016 on multiple terrorism charges.

The politician also does drawings and joined the satirical cartoon magazine Leman last month, while his first novel Leylan is expected to be on the shelves on Jan 22.

The media has also targeted the Istanbul’s mayors wife, Dilek İmamoğlu, for watching a play last week based on a short story in Demirtaş’s book “Devran”, along with the Kurdish politician’s wife, Başak Demirtaş.

“My wife knows where to go. She is a Turkish woman who can interpret Turkey and the world, and decides where to go accordingly,” Ekrem İmamoğlu. 

The mayor said the women contributed to the peace efforts in Turkey by watching the play.

“I believe women will make the most important contribution to this country’s unity, solidarity, and fellowship,” he said.