Turkish Court finds ban on the letter ‘W’ constitutional

Kurdish letters w, x and q
'w, x and q' are in the 32-letter Kurdish alphabet, but not the 29-letter Turkish alphabet. Image: Susan Price/Green Left

Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that the refusal by a public office to register a baby with the name “Ciwan” — which contains the Kurdish letter “W” — did not constitute a violation of constitutional rights, according to the Mezopotamya News Agency.

“Ciwan” is a name commonly used by Kurds for babies, meaning “young”. The letters “w, x and q” are in the 32-letter Kurdish alphabet, but not in the 29-letter Turkish alphabet.

The three letters can be used in official documents such as trade registry certificates of foreign or local companies in Turkey, but spark negative responses from state officials when it comes to naming babies.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court reviewed the case and the family was denied registration of their newborn baby’s name. The baby was not issued an official identity card bearing the name either.

In 2014, Abdullah Yılmaz wanted to name his newborn child Ciwan. However the district birth registration office in Izmir refused to issue an identity card for the same reason, warning that the name “Ciwan” should be changed to “Civan”.

Later, a local court ruled that the name should contain the letters of the Turkish alphabet and be written as “Civan”.

Yilmaz took the case all the way to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the right of the family to name their child in accordance with their own culture was not violated and that there was “no serious obstacle within the Kurdish culture to using the name Civan”.

[Abridged from Medya News.]