Turkish mayor orders burning of hats supposed to be sent to Iraqi Kurdistan

A Black Sea district mayor from ultranationalist ruling alliance partner MHP stopped production in a local hat factory because the order had come in from Iraqi Kurdistan, confiscated the supply and burned the products in the middle of the street.

Duvar English

Elected from the ruling alliance partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the mayor of the Black Sea district of Şalpazarı halted production at a local hat factory because the order had been placed from Iraqi Kurdistan, and burned the supply in the middle of the street.

Mayor Refik Kurukız reportedly raided a local hat factory where an order was being manufactured to be used in the Iraqi Kurdistan elections on Oct. 10, and confiscated the supply. 

Factory officials told the mayor that the export was legally sound and that the sale would provide income in a foreign currency for Turkey, but the mayor countered them with nationalist rhetoric about the Chepni Tribe of Turks. 

"This is Şalpazarı. We preserve our Chepni culture, our ancestors' heritage here. This is a true Turkish land to the core," Kurukız said, adding that he was deeply saddened by the production of the hats. 

The mayor claimed that the colors and logos of the hats were emblematic of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), dubbed a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union (EU). 

"Logos of those who want to divide our country can't be produced in Şalpazarı district. We can't allow it as Turkish nationals," Kurukız said. "We will fight until our last drop of blood."  

The owner of the hat factory, Ömer Özdemir, noted that the hat export had been set up through completely legal venues, and provided locals with both an opportunity for work and a chance for the economy to earn in foreign currency. 

The mayor didn't investigate the legality of the apparel, and ruled that they were illegal without even consulting law enforcement, Özdemir said. 

"He put us in a dishonorable and difficult position in front of the locals, let alone the financial damage he put us in," Özdemir noted. "We could have even been attacked by the locals, we still feel this way."

The manufacturer said that the financial loss they experienced is easily recoverable but their loss of reputation is dire and urged local authorities to clarify the incident.