IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.
by Rezhiar Fakhir
No doubt reading the news nowadays makes you angry with the claims that far right leaders are making specifically Donald Trump. I have been confused, troubled and shocked hearing that the President of the United States has banned people from the Muslim world entering to the US. His allegation that it is to make the US safer by banning innocent people from the Middle East has puzzled me, it is as though he lives in a different world. What is even more appalling is that many people applaud him for what he is doing. He did not just ban people but he also stated that he is only going to accept Christians as they have been most prosecuted by Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East. Well Mr. President, you are wrong. Everyone has suffered equally from ISIS regardless whether they were Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, non-believers or any other beliefs that did not match with Daesh’s ideology. I have reflected on the statements that he has made and I think it is important that people have a real picture of what is happening here, not what Trump is trying to feed to people.
However, this is not by any means to dismiss anyone or depict who has suffered most or who has suffered least from the wars that exists in the Middle East and specifically war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I have had the benefit of meeting people from different corners of this region and worldwide due to the work that I am doing. Last summer we had a very diverse delegation coming to my region to learn about what was happening here. We visited one of the monasteries in the city of Sulaimani where the people working there have lived in Syria and fled to this city after the war started.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Laura Buckman.
We sat down to listen to their story. Father Jenns who has lived in Syria and worked with Christian communities in Syria started explaining their work in Syria and the current work that they are doing in the Kurdish region of Iraq. He said ‘’Before I start, I would like to tell you all that when you go back to your own countries do not make the same mistake as the media. Christians are not the only community who has suffered from IS.’’ He continued, ‘’The people who have most suffered from IS are the Muslims themselves and other groups.’’ I have tried not to list who has been prosecuted most or least, because I believe that we have all equally suffered from ISIS regardless of who we are or what religion we adhere to or what we believe. But after Trump’s horrifying statement, it is vital to talk about it openly.
Historically speaking, it is good to take you back a little bit to tell you some stories that really reflect on the Middle East’s situation. In 2014, when IS invaded Mousil the second largest city in Iraq, they started killing Muslims at the very beginning of their appearance in the city. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were displaced and killed. Also they left no choice to the Christians but to leave or be converted or killed, which lead to mass displacement. It is heart breaking for me to see an extremist group just come to a city and push people out who have inhabited there for thousands of years. Their way of life has been destructed and it will be very difficult, as well as challenging, for them to rebuild their lives. Many of them have even given up on going back to their own homes after all the destruction that has been caused by ISIS.
The Daesh militants then moved to the city of Sinjar. The people of Sinjar adhere to a different faith called Yazidi. Upon their arrival, they killed more than seven thousand people, kidnapped five thousand women, raped them and sold them in the sex slave market in Daesh territory. Also, they took their children to recruit them. Even after the liberation of the city of Sinjar, Yazidis did not go back due to the traumatic experience they have gone through. Since then, they have been based in camps where they can barely keep up with their lives and hope for a better life in the country or elsewhere outside of the country. I am not sure that Donald Trump or the people of the United States who think like him or voted for him have followed what has really happened here. This is not a war about religion but more about power.
This is to give you all a real picture that everyone has suffered equally from ISIS and we cannot be dismissive and simply categorise who is most prosecuted as the Trump administration is doing so. And the decision to ban people from six countries in the Middle East is cowardly made without thinking or having a clear picture of the Middle East. It is also racist and Islamophobic nothing else. It is even offensive not just to Muslims but also millions of people who do not adhere to Islam.
In my dream, I thought Trump would ban all the puppets and dictators who have caused so much pain to the people of this region plus killed hundreds of thousands of people. Besides, people should not forget that the people that Trump’s administration wants to make an alliance with are responsible for the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. I was imagining that his administration would ban Erdoghan (The president of Turkey) who has murdered thousands of Kurds or Bashar AL Assad (The so called President of Syria) who has killed more than two hundred thousands of people in Syria. What about the Golf states that have left no space for women and minorities in their countries? And the president of my region (Masud Barzani) who is responsible for a civil war in which more than thirty thousand people were killed, and is still ruling the region by killing and oppressing the Kurdish people in the Kurdish region of Iraq. I am really baffled by how Trump and his followers, just put everyone in an empty box and call them terrorists.
I am not sure whether people really know that the simple reason that terrorist groups exist in this region is because of the US invasion. As the US officials claimed, ‘’The US invasion was to bring democracy to the country,’’ not to tear it up along with the whole Middle East. Due to the US invasion, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Iraq and we inherited all these terrorist groups. It is just nonsense to me to portray the Middle Eastern people as terrorists but ignore the fact that US invasion has led to mass destruction and mass displacement. In addition, it has created a space for terrorist groups to come here and create this chaos that we see now.
So the far right leaders, including Trump, should be aware of how this happened before making these sort of decisions and not put everyone in the same box. They should be aware that these decisions will leave people with no choice and will help the terrorist groups to recruit the very people who are trying to run away from the terrorists. When you give no option to those displaced people who have no place to resettle to have a peaceful life, the terrorist groups will certainly benefit from that to increase their members. I also think if anyone should be banned, it should be the puppets and dictators of the Middle East not the people who are suffering from all these barbaric regimes and terrorist groups. Or perhaps ban weapon companies from sending weapons to this region instead of banning people from the Middle East.