Monday, December 26, 2005

Adaptation to Latin Alphabet Discussed in N. Iraq

12.25.2005 Sunday - ISTANBUL 20:12

By Ercan Gun
Published: Sunday, December 25, 2005

Kurds in Northern Iraq discuss replacing the Arabic alphabet with the Latin alphabet. If this becomes true, many people believe that an important step will be taken in the idea of integration with the West.

The supporters of Latin alphabet increase day by day in the alphabet debate, which has been led by the intellectuals over the past two years. In the new Iraqi constitution, the Kurdish language has obtained the status of an official language; however, the correspondence with the central government is carried on in Arabic letters. While the administration prefers to remain silent in response to the questions, no consensus has yet been achieved among the Kurdish groups. The politicians in the region use the adaptation of Latin alphabet as a propaganda tool of "an independent Kurdish state". Along with Arabs, some Kurds see demands for adaptation of Latin alphabet as "missionary supported" attempt and they warn, "Changing the alphabet will strike a blow on the Kurds' relation with the Islamic culture."

Intellectuals from Suleymaniye explain that Kurdish is closer to the Latin alphabet and the adaptation of Latin alphabet would be "a window opening to the West". Emphasizing that some of the sounds in Kurdish do not have a correspondence in Arabic, the intellectuals defend that changing the alphabet is inevitable. The Kurds who live in the safe area, which was formed after the first Gulf War in northern Iraq, use Kurdish as the language of education. Kurds in Northern Iraq use Arabic as the literary language who have been receiving education and making broadcasts in their mother tongue for almost 15 years.

Suleymaniye Library Manager Fuat Abdurrahman said there has been remarkable interest in the Latin alphabet over the last two years and many literary works written in Latin alphabet were donated to the libraries. Saying these works are brought from Istanbul and Diyarbakir, Abdurrahman explained," It is very hard to write Kurdish in Arabic. The Latin alphabet is appropriate for Kurdish; however, there are serious debates among the intellectuals. I believe that the Latin alphabet will be adapted in the long run." Sociologist Bahtya Ibrahim Fettah from the Suleymaniye University stressed that people need the Latin alphabet as he added," After the 35-year despotism, we want democracy to settle and we need the Latin alphabet because of this as this alphabet is a window opening to the West."