Is a Kurdish Obama possible?

"Anyone killed during the struggle to liberate the Kurdish people is a martyr because this struggle is the struggle for the mother tongue and for the liberation of a people which God mentions [in the Quran]."

These were the words spoken by Democratic Society Party (DTP) Deputy Hamit Geylani and directed to members of the press after a funeral ceremony held for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) member Kamuran Efrin who was killed in a clash in Dağlıca village in Hakkari's Yüksekova district. (Taraf Daily July 1)
These statements could very well be considered a crime for "praising a crime and the criminal" or for "promoting a terrorist organization" and lead to criminal proceedings. Even if that is the case, such words are being openly spoken and some people who read it in the newspaper consider it "normal" while others are getting upset. These words and this situation are striking in terms of the point we have reached in the struggle against the PKK which has been continuing for 25 years. While these statements are considered "very normal" for one segment of society they are absolutely unacceptable and can lead to indignation for another.

Is it possible to minimize the difference between these reactions? Who can do this? These words are actually traumatic words that remind Turkey that it needs to face its realities. Turkey needs to face the realities in the country because anyone who closely follows the issue knows that Turks, not Kurds will be able to solve the Kurdish problem in the next test. But Turks need to solve this problem not by themselves but with the support of Kurds. This will call for leaders to direct and monitor Turks and Kurds during this process of finding an appropriate solution. An "Obama" is required in Turkey to resolve not only the Kurdish issue but other political problems that have intense psychological dimensions. Located thousands of kilometers away from America, Anatolia is a place where people of different ethnicities, colors and beliefs coexisted peacefully for hundreds of years. Racism and slavery are foreign to these lands. Although the events in late 19th century and early 20th century have damaged that heritage, there is a truth about Anatolia that cannot be changed. The Kurdish problem in Turkey has never compared to similar examples in the US and it never will.

But an American-type quest for "tolerance" and "compromise" is inevitable for Turkey. There is a need for trusted "reputable people" that can assume this historic role and minimize the difference in reactions. Unfortunately, however, there is no such person or people on the horizon.

Certainly creating a "Kurdish Obama" would be a sign of the success of Turkey's modernization. In an article last November, referring to the election of a black man to the presidential seat in the US, Hürriyet Daily journalist Ertuğrul Özkök posed the question if Turks would vote for a man who openly said "I am a Kurd."

The answer to this question is, "Absolutely, on the day we have a Kurdish Obama."

By a "Kurdish Obama" we mean a political figure whose loyalty to Turkey's history, land, flag and values is unquestioned and who can instill trust in Turkish citizens.

US President Barack Obama's real success was that he was able to instill this belief in all American citizens, black and white. As for the American system, its real success isn't that it elected a black man as president but that it created a black man that could be elected as president. This is what Turkey has yet to accomplish.

Gürkan Zengin