A Syriac Christian has entered Parliament for the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic following Sundayâ€™s general elections.
Many community members hope Erol Dora, an independent deputy who ran from the southeastern province of Mardin with the backing of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, will give a voice to one of Turkeyâ€™s least-recognized minorities.
â€œThe Syriac community will be transformed into a more active and dynamic structure, rather than [remaining] an inward-looking community. In short, [the Syriac community] will break out of its own shell,â€ Åžabo BoyacÄ±, a prominent figure in Turkeyâ€™s Syriac community, told the HÃ¼rriyet Daily News.
Doraâ€™s election to Parliament is highly significant not only for Syriacs but for all minorities in Turkey, BoyacÄ± said, adding that Doraâ€™s success will have a positive effect on the Syriac community. â€œMinoritiesâ€™ problems have been ignored for years. The public will now gain awareness of minority issues from the Parliamentâ€™s benches,â€ BoyacÄ± said, calling Doraâ€™s election â€œan important step in the direction of fraternity, democracy and freedom.â€
Dora demonstrated his courage by running with the pro-Kurdish partyâ€™s backing, said Turgut Alaca, the president of the Mesopotamia Culture Association, which counts the new deputy as one of its founders. The BDP is a party that entered Parliament through the will of the people, even though the prime minister portrayed it as a â€œterrorist party,â€ he added.
â€œIt is said in the Constitution that all citizens of the Turkish Republic are equal. We, on the other hand, cannot even benefit from our citizenship rights, let alone those rights that were granted to us by the Lausanne [Treaty.] Christian minorities can find no work in public institutions,â€ Alaca said, adding that the Turkish public will become more aware of Syriac Christiansâ€™ problems thanks to Doraâ€™s election.
â€œIf I manage to enter Parliament, I will become the voice of the Syriac community, as well as all other ethnicities in the southeast,â€ Dora told the Daily News before the election.