Kurdish language courses will be offered in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Art and Vocational Training Courses (İSMEK), Turkey's main opposition party chairman pledged Tuesday.
Offering such courses is necessary to coexist in harmony, the chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said during a meeting with graduates of Kurdish Language and Literature departments in Istanbul.
He also said that the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) staff will provide care services in Kurdish for elderly people who do not speak any other language besides Kurdish.
Kurdish belongs to a northwestern Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. It is accepted as the fourth most spoken language in the Middle East, after Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. It is estimated that 13 to 15 million Kurds live in Turkey (out of a population of 80 million) and nearly half of them are either fluent Kurdish speakers or actively use Kurdish in their daily life. Kurmanji dialect is the predominant dialect.
The Kurdish language has long remained a taboo in Turkey due to past governments' oppressive policies toward the community during the nation-building efforts in the early Republican era, whereas the restrictions were later linked to the separatist campaign by the terrorist organization PKK launched in the 1980s.
Starting with the rule of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2002, the language received state-level recognition while education in Kurdish was permitted in private language courses and Kurdish language departments and lessons were introduced in universities in 2012. Public broadcaster TRT also launched a Kurdish television station in 2009.