President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a written message Tuesday on the occasion of March 21 World Nevruz Day, urging celebrations "in unity."
Nevruz, an ancient festival marking the arrival of spring, is commonly celebrated by Turkic countries, Iran, Afghanistan and communities with Persian heritage. In Turkey, it is more embraced by country's Kurdish and Alevi communities - the latter prizes it as the birthday of Ali, a companion of Prophet Muhammad and the holiest figure for the Alevi faith.
"Nevruz is the festival of new beginnings, hope, brotherhood and solidarity and is observed with enthusiasm from the Balkans to Central Asia. It is important to celebrate it in compliance with values it represents. I hope Nevruz, which is a harbinger of spring, will strengthen our brotherhood and solidarity," Erdoğan said.
The president highlighted that he believed the nation will appropriately celebrate Nevruz, "in this sensitive period where there are attempts to undermine our brotherhood which dates back to a thousand year ago in a global conflict of interest."
Though it is widely celebrated all across Turkey with people traditionally jumping over bonfires, Nevruz has also an unfortunate association with the violence by the PKK terrorist group.
The group, which claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule, has exploited the day to start bloody riots in Turkish cities. Turkey has recently taken control of Afrin, a Syrian town that was occupied by a PKK affiliate.
Operation Olive Branch that was launched to end the PKK's control in Afrin has raised fears that it might spark renewed violence in Turkey by the terrorist group.
The PKK, which violated a unilateral truce, killed hundreds in southeastern Turkey and bomb attacks in big cities since 2015.
Counterterrorism police have stepped up operations ahead of Nevruz and dozens of suspects linked to the terrorist group planning attacks and riots were captured in nationwide operations. In Istanbul and the capital Ankara, 27 people planning attacks for the PKK were detained on Tuesday.
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