Anti-Kurdish sentiment

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Anti-Kurdish sentiment, also known as anti-Kurdism or Kurdophobia, is the hostility, fear, intolerance or racism against the Kurdish people, Kurdish culture, or Kurdish languages.[1] A person who holds such positions is sometimes referred to as a "Kurdophobe".

Origin and history[edit]

The term 'anti-Kurdism' appears to have been first coined by Gérard Chaliand, who used it to describe anti-Kurdish sentiment in Iraq and Turkey during the mid to late twentieth century.[1]

Anti-Kurdish sentiment appears to have first emerged as a result of fears surrounding Kurdish nationalist aspirations for an independent Kurdistan and in response to the ultra-nationalist ideologies promoted by the states in which Kurds live. In Turkey, Kurdish identity was officially denied by the state, which sought to assimilate the Kurds in Turkey. The Turkish government institutionalized racism and paid academics to teach theories that would deny the existence of Kurds, such as the "kurt-kart theory". The theory claimed that Kurds were merely Turks whose name came from the "kurt-kart" sound the people made when they walked through the snow of the mountainous southeast of Turkey.[2]

Various ultra-nationalist political parties and groups in Turkey have successfully campaigned using the general anti-Kurdish sentiment of the Turkish people.[3]

Anti-Kurdish sentiment increased in the Arab world during the formation of the United Arab Republic. At that time, Gamal Abdel Nasser implemented a policy of Arabizing the new republic by cracking down on political dissent among Kurds in Syria.[4] Following the collapse of the United Arab Republic, Syria would be officially declared the Syrian Arab Republic based on these same policies.

Anti-Kurdish sentiment has also been present in Iraq and Iran where there are large Kurdish populations. In Iraq, anti-Kurdism manifested itself in the form of genocide and Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign.[5] In modern Iran, anti-Kurdism culminated with the declaration by Ayatollah Khomeini that Kurds are the "children of the jinn".[6]

Current situation[edit]

Kurds in Iraq and Syria have been embroiled in a war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. As a result of the increasing awareness of the Kurdish people due to this conflict, anti-Kurdism has also been on the rise. In the United Kingdom, a Kurdish shop owner was attacked by a kurdophobe who said he wished genocide against all Kurdish people.[7]

In November 2014, a Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki was the victim of an attack in Turkey. Naki, who played for the Turkish club, Gençlerbirliği S.K., was attacked by Turks while he was out buying food in Turkey's capital, Ankara. The incident occurred shortly after Naki had declared that he was Kurdish and expressed support on social media for the Kurdish groups fighting against ISIS militants. A number of assailants allegedly cursed him and called him a "dirty Kurd" before beating him and injuring his hand and giving him a black eye. Naki has since left Turkey and returned to Europe where he intends to continue his football career.[8]


  1. ^ a b Gérard Chaliand (1993). A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan. Zed Books. pp. 85–. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5.
  2. ^ "MGK paid academics to write on ‘kart kurt theory,’ commission report says." Today's Zaman. 25 November 2012.
  3. ^ Bora Kanra (2009). Islam, Democracy and Dialogue in Turkey: Deliberating in Divided Societies. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 85–. ISBN 978-0-7546-7878-6.
  4. ^ Yildiz, Kerim. The Kurds in Syria: The Forgotten People. Palgrave Macmillan. 2005
  5. ^ Anderson, Liam. Avoiding Ethnic Conflict in Iraq: Some Lessons from the Aland Islands. Wright State University, UK. 2010.
  6. ^ Kahn, Margaret. Children of the Jinn: In Search of the Kurds and Their Country. Seaview Books. 1980.
  7. ^ "Kurdish staff told 'IS are doing the right thing by killing all the Kurds' in their Cheltenham shop". Crouch, Giulia. Gloucestershire Echo. 10 Feb 2015. Archived 2015-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Footballer Deniz Naki flees Turkey for Germany after attack." Girit, Selin. 5 November 2014.

See also[edit]