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Nevruz fire.

\u304 STANBUL (C\u304 HAN)- The Kurdistan Workers\'92 Party (PKK) is trying to start a nationalist fire using the Nevruz fire. The PKK leaders in the Kandil Mountains have sent the message to their supporters in Turkey that they \'93should ensure the broadest participation possible in the Nevruz festivities.\'94 This message can be seen as their quest for securing legitimacy. Indeed, \'93popular legitimacy\'94 is the most important item on the agenda of the PKK/Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) camp. This is because the PKK is quickly losing popular support among Kurds.

The difference between patriotism and nationalism points to the problem of Kurdish nationalism, which the PKK is trying to foster. Patriotism is a union that is built upon common denominators. Homeland is one such common denominator for people who live in the same country. Nationalism, on the other hand, stresses differences and animosities. Kurdish nationalism is attempting to destroy common denominators with other ethnic groups in Turkey.

Nevruz is the common festival for a very broad area extending from Central Asia to the Balkans. Originally a pagan festival, it represents the awakening of nature with the coming of spring. A fire is kindled, and people are gathered around this fire to mark the new year that starts with the arrival of spring. People jump over the fire and dance, and the way this festival is celebrated is significantly similar among many ethnic groups. Although it would be celebrated in every part of the country, Kurds would attach greater importance to it as nomadic customs are more pronounced among Kurds as well as with some Turkmen tribes. When the PKK terrorism started to escalate in 1984, the official state propaganda gave greater emphasis to Nevruz as a common denominator. For a long time, Nevruz festivities have been held not only among Kurds, but also with the participation of state officials. Thus, a festival that is popular among Kurds has been nationalized.

Just like other forms of nationalism, Kurdish nationalism places emphasis on differences rather than on common denominators. In response to the nationalization of Nevruz, Kurdish nationalists have started to mark it three days ahead of the official date. Also, assuming that there will be greater public support on Monday, the PKK/BDP camp decided to celebrate it on March 18.

The PKK/BDP camp is trying to fan the flames of Kurdish nationalism instead of trying to solve the Kurdish issue. On Monday, BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirta\u351 said, \'93We don\'92t want to live without status in Kurdistan.\'94 Next to him was BDP deputy Aysel Tu\u287 luk, who said, \'93Here is Amed [referring to Diyarbak\u305 r], the capital of Kurdistan.\'94 This is exactly what nationalism is. Seeking \'93status in Kurdistan\'94 is just a fantasy for Kurdish nationalism. Given the fact that 60 percent of Kurds in Turkey live outside Kurdistan, we need to search for other addressees to talk to solve the Kurdish issue. Will status in Kurdistan be of any help to the Kurds who live in \u304 stanbul, a city that hosts the highest number of Kurds in the world? It is for this reason that Kurdish nationalists who ignore these Kurds and who run after territory-based dreams cannot boost their popular support.

This year, the PKK/BDP used the Nevruz fire to fan the flames of Kurdish nationalism. The number of people frequenting the Nevruz festivities shows that they have failed in their initiatives. The PKK will continue to lose its popular support as long as it focuses on Kurdish nationalism. Turkey\'92s human geography will prevent it from becoming like Yugoslavia. The country\'92s still vivid memories of imperial experience are still serving as an antidote to nationalism. Patriotism is a much more attractive common denominator as people from different ethnicities live intermingled everywhere in a country of 75 million.

M\'dcMTAZER T\'dcRK\'d6NE (Cihan/Today's Zaman) C\u304 HAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Mar 20, 2012
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