chapter  5
25 Pages

STABILIZING BORDERS

The geopolitics of national identity construction in Turkey
ByKim Rygiel

In March 1996, one of Turkey’s most prominent and internationally acclaimed writers of Kurdish origin, Yasar Kemal, was arrested for writing an article ‘The Dark Cloud Over Turkey.’ He was charged with engaging in ‘separatist propaganda’ that threatened ‘the indivisibility of the Turkish state’ and given a twenty-month suspended sentence. It was the vision of the Turkish nation as a mosaic of different cultures, in particular, which the state considered to be dangerous. Kemal described his vision in the following way:

For me the world is a garden of culture where a thousand flowers grow. Throughout history all cultures have fed one another, been grafted onto one another, and in the process our world has been enriched. The disappearance of a culture is the loss of a color, a different light, a different source. I am as much on the side of every flower in this thousand flower garden as I am on the side of my own culture. Anatolia has always been a mosaic of flowers, filling the world with flowers and light. I want it to be the same today.