Thursday, 24 August 2017

Kurds and the issue of minorities




I thought it is gona be easy to hold my pen and write extensively about Mahfouz Abdelrahman; the thinker, creative writer, and rare friend… then I discovered it is better to wait… as it will not be appropriate to write an eulogy that includes praise and detailed memories… specially that this space in Al Ahram newspaper witnessed a heated debate around drama and history… and the difference between scenario writer and historian… that debate was about the TV-series al-Gama’a, his writer, and the historian who supervised this piece of work… and so, I postpone writing about my friend; the elite figure Mahfouz Abdelrahman.

Instead, I will write about a cause I believe is common to both of us… not only for the cultural and intellectual beliefs we both had, but also because the late dear friend was burdened with the issues concerning Egypt and the whole nation even when he was in deep need of looking after his health… that issue is about the Kurds and the heated political debate concerning their separation from Iraq in preparation to establish the Kurdish state.

Few days ago, I saw a footage filming a party welcoming Mulla Masoud Barzani in the Zionist state of Israel… the Israeli announcer of the party went expatiating the close deep relation between Kurds, and Israel and Jews… he also went expatiating the cons of Arabs, Turks, and Persians… hailing the Kurds and Jews… encouraging Barzani to go on separation and establishing the Kurdish state… and that Israel is going to strongly support them… the Kurdish reaction in the party came thankful, affirming that the relation will continue and that Kurds will go ahead with the referendum and consequently separation!

I believe many have seen all these incidents already; however this introduction does not mean I accuse Kurds of treason or of collaborating with the Zionists… otherwise the definite condemnation would be the result… as it is well known that there have been Israeli-Kurdish relations since the time of Mulla Mustafa Barzani and his colleague Talabani.

However, it is also known that the issue of minorities in the region in general is worth adopting a proper immediate stance… specially that such problem is spread everywhere in our Arab world from the far north-east to the far south-west… as doctrinal, religious, and ethnic minorities are present everywhere in the Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, and Ethiopia… and maybe one can find a human group in a certain country that represents a doctrinal, religious, or ethnic minority… here, it is important that we should pay attention to the sub-cultures that form part of the total cultural composition of a certain country or state.

It is a recurring old matter that will go more on flames despite that the American, Turkish, and Iranian stance regarding the Kurdish case opposes their separation and establishing a Kurdish state… however, this stance, which may develop into standing practically against any separatist step, will not cure or alleviate the problem as it got more complicated throughout history after the majority – if one can use such term – including always the ruling authority, has neglected “the rights of the minorities” as it is called in today’s international language of politics.

I may have the right to call it, from another perspective, the respect of doctrinal, religious, and ethnic diversity… and hence the cultural diversity inside the society and the necessity to pay attention to all sub-cultures… and the reflection of such thing in education programs, media, and services as well… also in the ruling authority and its bases in state institutions… as the absence of such respect was practically one of the reasons that led to the spread of terrorism in the name of religion… as we all know that the backbone of the terrorism ideology is denying and contempt of other parties… and even denying them existence altogether, either by killing or alienation… or even uprooting their abstract existence religiously, culturally, and intellectually.

In such regard related to the Kurds in Iraq, I look for an answer to the question asking: why does the United States refuse one of the approaches that the American administrations sought to implement until that administration that designed and applied the so-called wave of “Arab Spring” came to power?... I here mean the approach of working on enflaming doctrinal, religious, ethnic conflicts and the social ones as well… and dismantling the civilization-sophisticated entities like Iraq, Levant, and Egypt into mini-states or cantons… for the state of the Jewish minority to have the upper hand in the region and remain the more advanced and stronger model to follow.

Back to the case of the situation of what is called “minorities”, due to having diversity in a society like the Egyptian one… also, due to history and civilization… all these factors prevent us from talking about minorities in the conventional meaning of the term… however, and despite such unique national cultural civilization diffusion, we were and still are suffering from absence of paying respect to our diverse cultural components… also, our curricula in the tertiary and university education systems still ignore and neglect many of our cultural, civilization, and historical components.

In such regard, many wrote about such thing and many seminars and conferences were held… also, group communities and commissions were formed… but we did not achieve a noticeable improvement in such direction… moreover, the relation between some “minorities” and the Zionist state was in the first place for the sake of looking for a regional support backing the political movements representing the minorities… and of course the Zionist state did not miss the rare chance to poke its intelligence fingers that work on weakening the Arab countries facing it, including Iraq whose some of its ruling regimes, especially during the time of Ba’ath party of Saddam Hussein, tried to deal with the Kurdish case properly, even if on the formal level… and so, they had a vice-president of the Kurds in addition to what looks like an autonomous governing… despite all this, here is the Kurdish problem exacerbates again and moves fast towards separation and afterwards the state that will have the Iraqi land – in case it was established – as the first part of it… then it may extend to include the big Kurdish state stretching in Iran, Syria, and Turkey… and I think to some other areas in Asia.

I do not want to go on talking about what was called the Amazigh case… along with the issue of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro… also, the issue of South Sudan and the eastern region of the Saudi Kingdom… and even here in Egypt, we have to admit the situation of the Christian Copts in Egypt that sometimes goes on fire.

The issue of minorities is not easy… unless efforts are dedicated to guarantee a full and on-the-ground respect for doctrinal, religious and ethnic diversity and cultural mix, the consequences will be grave.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar



This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on August 24, 2017.

To see the original article, go to:


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