Skip to main content

Sectarianism in Iraq peaks ahead of Kurdistan referendum

With the Kurdistan independence referendum just days away, politicians and the general public are fanning sectarian tension on both sides of the vote.

As Kurds grow more assertive about their right to hold a referendum on independence next week, rhetoric from politicians, military generals and regional officials is threatening to undermine the social cohesion that has so far prevailed in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

For over three years, the Islamic State (IS) did everything in its power to sow the seeds of division between the various religious and ethnic communities in Iraq. The militants failed to a large extent, but as the country struggles to recover from the devastation of war, the Kurdistan referendum has become yet another opportunity for some to induce fear in the heart of their communities and bolster their own positions. Social networking sites and in particular Facebook have become the most important media through which these sectarian messages are being circulated to the public in Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.