Well, not really. But that’s the image of him that has appeared on posters in Van. The poster shows Çiçek on a donkey and the caption reads: Sünnetçi Cemil Çiçek Kandile Gidiyor (Circumcision expert Cemil Çiçek goes to the Qandil Mountains).
The circumcision, er, flap comes on the heels of a statement made by Çiçek at an Iftar (breaking of the fast during Ramadan) meal last week. He said: ‘There is a close relationship between Armenian terrorism and PKK terrorism; they are blood brothers. [Armenian terrorism left] the picture and they have transferred the job to this side [of the border]. Regardless, excuse me but some of the terrorists being uncircumcised should mean a lot to you [meaning that some members of the PKK are Armenian]. I mean, this is not say-so or anything; we know well who is who.’
Selahattin Demirtaş, Kurdish chair of the BDP, accused Çiçek of downplaying the importance of the ’80-year-old Kurdish issue’ and responded later: ‘These people do not have problems of language, culture [or] belief according to Cemil Çiçek. The problem is that a few PKK members are not circumcised. If this is the problem, and in case you are willing to do it, let us assign you [Çiçek] position of governmental sünnetçi and send you to Qandil Mountains. Go and solve this problem.’
The issue has riled up the Armenian community and has received much attention in the Armenian press. The Istanbul Armenian community advised Çiçek to avoid such statements, saying they are stirring up hatred towards Armenians. Meanwhile, Kurds in Van continue to protest with banners of Sünnetçi Çiçek riding a donkey.