A decision by the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) municipality to rename a street in Diyarbakır after a deceased doctor and former head of Diyarbakır Medical Association who was convicted on terror charges has caused outrage among other parties.
The street, which was opened during the previous administration of state trustees in Diyarbakır's Sur district, was originally named after Iyad ibn Ghanm, an Arab general that played a prominent role in the Muslim conquests in upper Mesopotamia, including Diyarbakır.
However, the HDP's municipal administration that was elected in the March 31 local elections took the decision to rename the street after İlhan Diken, who was handed down a three-year prison sentence on terror charges in 1992 and died five years ago. The decision drew strong criticism from other political parties.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) provincial head Süleyman Serdar Budak told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Diyarbakır was one of the first cities that embraced Islam in Anatolia, accusing the HDP of wasting time with subsidiary issues instead of focusing on the real problems of the city.
"Iyad ibn Ghanm conquered this city with the companions of our prophet. This decision is treason to Islam. People of Diyarbakır need service, not such decisions," Budak said. The conservative Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) provincial head Sabri Aktaş said that municipal services should not be ideology-oriented but need to be given according to necessities.
"If you interfere in the religious beliefs of Diyarbakır's people, it will bring no benefit to you," Aktaş said, criticizing the deficiencies in basic services given by the municipality.
Felicity Party (SP) provincial head Fesih Bozan called on the HDP to reverse its decision, saying that Iyad ibn Ghanm and his companions were symbols of the province. In recent years, HDP mayors and local officials have been caught misusing funds in support of the PKK terrorist group and providing jobs to its sympathizers. Investigations by the Justice Ministry have led to the removal of dozens of mayors and local officials from their posts before the March 31 local elections and, in some cases, criminal charges being brought against them.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) provincial head Cihan Kayaalp called the decision as a "big shame," saying that the party will carry out work to better introduce people such as ibn Ghanm to the youth in Diyarbakır.