SOCCER, KURDISH LANGUAGE, AND THE EU

The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association–that would be “football” as in “soccer,” for Americans) has created a huge scandal for Turkey and the Turkish Soccer Federation. According to an AP report, Kurdish is mentioned as one of the official languages of Turkey in the 2006 Almanac of World Football, published by FIFA!

What a rotten twist of fate for Turkey, that suddenly Kurdish should be listed somewhere, anywhere, as one of the official languages of the Turkish state! For one thing, this little irony comes so soon after Erdogan left Denmark in a huff over the Roj TV fiasco which he tried to force the Danish government into shutting down. Roj TV is one of the few Kurdish-language channels in existence and is the only one run primarily by Kurds from Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

For another thing, the association of the Kurdish language with the Turkish state must drive the Kemalists into a fury, given all the trouble they’ve gone to for the last eighty years in trying to lie about or stamp out this very language.

Secondly, the news that the Turkish Soccer Federation is upset about something or someone comes right after the Turkish soccer team dealt with the Swiss team in a way that could be described as less than gentlemanly, as reported by Deutsche-Welle.

And this is the country that hopes to join the EU?

The difficulty is that Kurds have pinned their hopes to Turkey’s EU accession, as a way of forcing the issues of political and cultural rights for Kurds, things the Turkish state would never grant on their own initiative. For the EU to reject Turkey will not hurt Turkey, but it will certainly hurt the hopes of 20 million Kurds who yearn for freedom.

Things are becoming very hard for Turkey these days. It gets less respect. It is expected to behave in a civilized way. I almost feel sorry for Turkey.

Almost.

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