ISTANBUL – The type of moustache worn by the military personnel that will fight in special units against the Kurdish separatist movement PKK, leads to heated debate in Turkey. It shouldn’t be men with moustaches pointing down, says governing party AKP, because they are ‘bad MHP militants’. Opposition party MHP wants an apology now, and turns up the heat a bit more: ‘What sort of moustaches should they have then? Almond shaped pious AKP moustaches?’
The debate is in fact regarding a serious matter. Governing party AKP, lead by pious Muslims, no longer wants to send inexperienced conscript soldiers to fight the PKK, but instead send special professional forces. It brings back memories of the nineties, when a secret military organisation, called Jitem, fought against the PKK and crossed all boundaries when it came to human rights. ‘In those days there were the wrong men in the troops’, declared Huseyin Celik, second in command of the AKP, on a commercial TV channel, and added: ‘They were typical MHP militants with moustaches drooping down’.
The Turkish half moon in hairy form on the upper lip: that’s how in Turkey you recognise the ultra-nationalist, follower of the right-wing MHP. But there is no proof that the members of the special units of former days actually had such a moustache. MHP leader Bahceli demands apologies, especially for the troops fighting the PKK and for the families of fallen soldiers – the party eagerly sets itself up as the ultimate representative of military personnel fighting the PKK and of families who lose sons and husbands in the battle.
Besides that, Bahceli wonders what sort of brush the special troops that the AKP wants to send to the fight will have. ‘Almond shaped moustaches I suppose?’ That moustache – a thick brush covering the full length of the upper lip – is a favourite among Muslims; Prime Minister Erdogan has one himself. The AKP for now hasn’t reacted to the anger of the MHP and seems to be leaving the moustache issue alone for the time being.