hidden europe 30

Flanders: good evening Denderleeuw

by Karlos Zurutuza

Picture above: Countdown to a news bulletin at Roj TV, the Flanders-based television station that broadcasts to Mesopotamia and beyond (photo © Karlos Zurutuza).


The homeland of the Kurdish people is bisected by many international frontiers. But Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and beyond are united by their affection for a TV station that broadcasts news and entertainment to the Kurdish people. Karlos Zurutuza, a regular contributor to hidden europe, visits the small town in Flanders (Belgium) where Roj TV is based.

Ajdar steps calmly up to the presenter’s desk, untroubled by the bright studio lights. He has been here a thousand times before. Three, two, one… action.

Roj bas, Kurdistan. “Good morning, Kurdistan” says Ajdar, with that quiet assuredness which is the mark of the experienced television presenter. Roj TV is not in Kurdistan at all, but in a rather dreary small town in the flatlands west of Brussels. Denderleeuw cuts a dash in Kurdish culture, with the east Flanders town having a substantial Kurdish minority and hosting a TV station that broadcasts to an attentive Kurdish audience spread across several countries.

Cameras are poised in virtual flight over a large map of Mesopotamia as the presenter predicts clear skies for the coming day. Kurds across large parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran look to Denderleeuw for their weather forecasts, their news and their entertainment. Clear skies today for the audience, and relentless Flanders rain for Ajdar and his colleagues at Roj TV.

After Ajdar has introduced today’s guest, a teacher from Turkish Kurdistan, the phone line is open for live calls. First on is Mehmet from Diyarbakir (a city on the River Tigris in eastern Turkey) who just wants to pass on best wishes to his cousin in Germany who is about to get married. “Sorry I cannot be there with you,” says Mehmet.

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