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‘Mosque of Kurds’ name changed to ‘Mosque of Turks’ in Kilis: HDP MP

By Rudaw 1/4/2018
‘Mosque of Kurds’ name changed to ‘Mosque of Turks’ in Kilis: HDP MP
Signs outside the Kilis mosque suggest the name has been changed. Photo: Adem Geveri / Twitter
ERBIL, Kurdistan – Altan Tan, a pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) MP, directed three questions to Turkish Premier Binali Yildirim regarding the alleged change to the name of a 17th century mosque in Kurdish city of Kilis. 

“The decision to change the name of Mosque of Kurds to Mosque of Turks is based on what fact?” asked Tan, following reports that the name of a mosque was changed following its restoration. 

According to a report by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the process of restoration of the mosque began on November 2015. A photo published alongside the report shows a large sign on the gate of the mosque which reads: “The Mosque of Turks” in Turkish. On the left side of the gate is a smaller sign with the words: “Mosque of Kurds.” 

When the news was reported, the alleged changing of the name did not receive much attention, but HDP MP Adem Geveri posted the photo on his Twitter account on December 25, 2017, commenting: “The name of ‘Mosque of Kurds’ which dates back to 17th century has been changed to ‘Mosque of Turks.’”

He added that the aim of Turkish government “is not to architecturally restore the mosque, but to ethnically restore Kurdish nation.”

Geveri took the matter to the Turkish parliament two days later, asking when exactly in history the mosque was called the “Mosque of Turks.”

Kilis is situated on the Turkish border with Syria, where Turkey is in conflict with the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). Rudaw reporters are therefore unable to visit the mosque to verify the claims.

Tan also asked the Turkish PM why he is “irritated with the name ‘Kurds’” and whether he is going to address the alleged name change. 

The Directorate of Regional Foundations of Gaziantep finished the restoration in 2016, according to CNN Turk.

The news channel quoted a resident who said the name had indeed been changed, but the billboard reading “Mosque of Turks” was soon removed.

“I am 80 years old. As far as I know the [name of the mosque] is Mosque of Kurds,” Fahri Kepekci told CNN.

CNN Turk also published an image of an information board allegedly hung inside the mosque, which provides a short history of the site in three languages: Turkish, Arabic and English.

“As there is no construction epigraph on this mosque, the exact date of construction is unknown. According to Ottoman records it was built by Kürt (Kurdish) Huseyin Aga from where the mosque takes its name. In recent years it has become known as Kürtler [Kurds] Mosque,” it reads in English.

The Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet also reported the “change” on Thursday, adding that the billboard which reads “Mosque of Kurds” has been “completely removed.”

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