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In bid to foster Iranian nationalism, Tehran launches first-ever Kurdish language program

This fall, Kurdish language studies will officially be offered to university students in Iran, a move many see as the long overdue fulfillment of a constitutional right.
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On his visit late last month to Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province, President Hassan Rouhani made an important announcement. For the first time, Kurdish language studies will officially be offered to university students. With the opening of a Kurdish Language and Literature program at the University of Kurdistan, Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution — based on which regional and tribal languages are allowed to be taught in schools — will finally be fully implemented.

Kurdish Language and Literature programs are already available at many well-known universities, academies and institutions around the world. In this vein, Iranian Kurds expected the establishment of such a program in Iran as well, and have long urged the implementation of the Iranian Constitution. Rouhani’s announcement is seen as the fulfillment of a key and long-standing expectation of Iranian Kurds. This change does not only affect academic studies, but also the publishing of news in the Kurdish language by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. It is helpful to frame this development in the context of Rouhani’s performance in the June 2013 presidential election, during which he won a majority (71%) of the vote in Kurdistan province.

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