İYİ MP leaves parliament upon row over Syriac speech 

Turkish opposition İYİ (Good) Party’s presidential council member on Dec. 18 left the parliament after a dispute between deputies and deputy speaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder over DEM Party MP George Aslan’s Christmas celebration in his native Syriac language. 

George Aslan, DEM Party deputy of Turkey's Southeastern Mardin province

Duvar English

Turkey’s opposition nationalist İYİ (Good) Party deputies on Dec. 18 objected to the Christmas celebration from People’s Democracy and Equality (DEM) Party deputy George Aslan in his native Syriac language. As the dispute grew, İYİ Party’s presidential council member Yasin Öztürk left the parliament.

Aslan finished his speech in Turkish with a Christmas wish in Syriac to all Christians, “especially the Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Assyrians of Turkey.” 

İYİ Party deputies opposed the Syriac sentence and said that everyone had to speak Turkish in the Parliament as per the constitution.

"Just as we warn someone of the ruling Justice and Development Party when they violate the constitution, we warn you now," said İYİ Party's deputy chairman Erhan Usta.

“This is not your father’s home, go and talk there if you wish,” shouted deputy Lütfü Türkkan.

As tension rose among deputies, Parliament Deputy Speaker Önder called for “a little tolerance,” and added that Aslan only wanted to salute his people in his language. 

Meral Danış Beştaş of DEM Party accused İYİ Party deputies of being racist and close-minded. “These arguments and insults hurt us as well as the public, and they create tension,” she added. 

Önder stated, “I could never intervene here because someone talked in their mother language, in which they dreamed and listened to lullabies. I would be ashamed. ” 

Önder emphasized the importance of education in mother tongues. He stated, “Just as you did not understand deputy Aslan’s sentences, a Kurdish child does not understand the teacher’s words on the first day of school,” and repeated DEM Party’s demand for education in Kurdish. 

Speaker Önder adjourned the session as İYİ Party's Council member left.