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Iraqi Kurdistan Must Ensure Minority Rights

While the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has long been touted as a stable refuge in an otherwise turbulent region, there have been increasing complaints from the region’s non-Kurdish minorities of discrimination and harassment.
Yezidi monk Baba Chawish poses in front of an entrance to the Lalish
temple some 50 km north from Iraqi city of Mosul, May 11, 2003. The
Yezidi religion, seen by its followers as the original Kurdish faith,
is believed to date back several thousand years and blends ideas from
sources as diverse as Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity.


The Kurdistan Region of Iraq succeeded in establishing a relatively stable state system in an environment that was — and still is — surrounded by dangers for the Kurds. This occurred after a decadeslong struggle against repressive totalitarian regimes that wanted to eliminate their unique culture and incorporate them into a chauvinistic, ideological identity. Kurds were joined in their struggle by other communities that have coexisted with them in the northern regions of Iraq for hundreds of years. These communities, however, are increasingly worried that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has begun to take the same path as past regimes, characterized by totalitarianism and chauvinism.

The primary problem with regard to this subject takes the form of the stereotype characterizing the major Iraqi groups: that they are the owners of the land they inhabit and that other communities are "settlers" who should conform to the identity of the majority. This is what has happened with successive Iraqi governments since the establishment of modern Iraq in 2003, in different forms and with varying degrees of severity and weakness. Iraq has been depicted as being composed of ethnic Arabs who belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. This has led to the persecution of other components in the country, who represent the largest cultural and religious diversity in the entire region.

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