President Barack Obama responded to a question from a Turkish student who inquired about his ideas towards Kurds in his country. As an American, the president drew upon words and feelings that are common to most Americans, but, unfortunately, not to the people of Turkey. He said: “I think that it’s important that the Kurdish minority inside Turkey is free to advance in the society, and that they have equal opportunity.” Any American or European audience would applaud this expression of concern for Kurds, but both Kurdish people and other Turks were angry at the choice of words by Obama.Selahattin Demirtas, of the Democratic Social Party (DTP) which supports Kurds, responded by noting, “Kurds are a pople living in their homeland and they are one of principal founders of the Turkish Republic.”
In Turkey, a “minority” is considered to be a religious group, not an ethnic group as are the Kurds. The European Union and Americans use the word to define a group.