Istanbul authorities ban unprecedented Kurdish-language play

A file photo shows staff members spray disinfectant at a theatre on in Yantai, a city in China's eastern Shandong province. (Photo: AFP)
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Updated 13 October 2020

Istanbul authorities ban unprecedented Kurdish-language play

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities have banned a Kurdish-language play that was due to be shown on Tuesday in Istanbul’s municipal theater for the first time in its 106-year history, organizers told AFP.
The play “Beru” was included in the October program of the Istanbul Municipality City Theatre, which is funded by the opposition-run municipality, to much fanfare.
No reason was given for the last-minute ban, but the Turkish state has long had a troubled relationship with its Kurdish minority.
The municipal theater has 10 stages dotted round Istanbul and had decided to take on some work from independent theaters that are struggling in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Beru” was translated into Kurdish from “Trumpets and Raspberries,” a piece of work by Nobel Literature Prize winner Dario Fo, an Italian satirist and playwright.
It was due to be shown in the Gaziosmanpasa neighborhood at 1730 GMT, performed by Teatra Jiyana Nu (New Life Theatre), an independent theater group.
The decision to ban the play was made by the local administration in Gaziosmanpasa and the theater was only informed at 1300 GMT, one of the organizers told AFP.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP government took steps to improve cultural and linguistic rights as part of its Kurdish initiative announced in 2009 when he was prime minister.
These included allowing Kurdish-language institutions and media outlets, and kindergartens that teach children in Kurdish.
But with the resumption of violence in the Kurdish majority southeast between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after the collapse of a fragile truce 2015, the government has launched a crackdown on Kurdish media organizations and culture centers.
That has increased in the aftermath of a failed 2016 coup.
The government has removed 48 elected mayors of Kurdish-run municipalities and replaced them with “trustees.” Dozens of pro-Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terrorism charges.


UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

Updated 27 November 2020

UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

  • Cases involving Islamist extremism increase for first time in four years
  • Program aims to spot people who could go on to commit terrorist acts

LONDON: The number of people referred to the UK government’s counter extremism program has jumped amid concerns over increased radicalization among young people.
Cases involving Islamist extremism increased by 6 percent from 1,404 to 1,487. The numbers, which represent individuals of concern referred to the Prevent scheme between April 2019 and March 2020, mark the first year-on-year increase for Islamist cases since 2016.
While far-right cases remained steady compared to the previous year at 1,388, overall the number of people referred to the program rose 10 percent.
The rise in Islamist cases comes after a recent surge of attacks across Europe. Last month a school teacher was beheaded by an extremist after he had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a freedom of speech discussion. Days later, three people were killed in a terrorist attack at a church in Nice.
In the UK, three people were killed in a knife attack on London Bridge almost a year ago.
The UK’s Prevent program is part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy and aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
The most serious cases are referred to a panel known as “Channel,” which then decides what further action to take. Of the 697 cases that reached the panel, most were related to the far-right (302), while 210 were linked to Islamist extremism. 
More than half of all referrals were aged under 20.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said the Prevent strategy was an essential strand to the UK’s counter-terror strategy.
“It is about supporting vulnerable individuals, steering them away from terrorism, and protecting our communities,” he told the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday.
Last week the head of counter-terror policing in the UK, Neil Basu, said that while Islamist terrorists remained the greatest threat to Britain, the far right is growing faster.
He said COVID-19 had created a “perfect storm” with young and vulnerable people spending more time alone and online.