The Product of a Sublime Culture of Coexistence
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Barham Ali

The Product of a Sublime Culture of Coexistence

In the midst of the flames of the past inflammatory years that swept the Middle East and the whole region, amid the religious violence in the area, the Kurdistan Region has emerged as the most peaceful land and the best safe haven for not only the Christians, but all the ethnic and religious groups despite the fact that it already struggles with multiple political and economic hardships itself.

What is witnessed in Kurdistan is neither a policy to preserve political or economic interests, nor a plan to protect a party or individual, but it comes from a culture that has its roots in the long history of this region.

This sublime culture is an authentic culture rooted in the land of the Aryans and the ancient peoples of Zagros; it is a culture of peace, love of the environment, the supremacy of human values, tolerance and tendency for peace without bloodshed; a culture of respect for the Creator God as well as soil, water, air, fire, and all beings; a culture of courtesy to all elements and components of human life and plants and all beings; the culture of ‘Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds’; the culture of the tribes of the Zagros Mountains and its foothills and Mesopotamia, those who built successive civilizations throughout history. It is the original culture of the ancestors of the Kurds and the Kurdistanis.

This human culture is like a perennial oak tree with a broad and solid trunk. It has been damaged here and there several times throughout the past thousands of years in this geography due to the invasions of these invading armies. Yes, this culture has been scratched and wounded by the invaders coming from faraway lands to occupy the land of Kurdistan. As the result, blood flowed from it and some of its branches were broken, and sometimes we saw this perennial tree being exposed to thunderbolts that burned some of its branches, yet the roots did not dry out and they will continue to grow.

Any religion, any sect or belief that spread over the land of Kurdistan, fell positively under the influence of this authentic and sublime culture, and thus the people of Kurdistan took the path of moderation and followed the most moderate and pure religious beliefs. Therefore, religious extremism has no chance to appear and emerge in this land. Whenever, at times, a preacher or religious figure, or even a political group, attempted to spread the seeds of religious or sectarian extremism in Kurdistan, this culture bid it in the nub and prevented it from spoiling the history of this land.

Leaders of the Kurdish people, from the Sheikhs of Barzani to Mulla Mustafa Barzani and President Masoud Barzani, were born and grew up with this sublime culture. It was the Sheikhs of Barzani who did not hesitate to help the Armenians in Turkey when they were persecuted. It was in these areas under the leadership of Barzanis where Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Kakayis, and all the other ethnic groups have, forever, been the respected components of the Kurdistan society. They have all been the Peshmerga for the freedom of Kurdistan.

And yesterday, when Pope Francis held a holy mass in Franso Hariri Stadium of the capital of Kurdistan Region, when Erbil was found in the spotlight of the international media, when everyone approved the Kurdistan Region as the land of peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance, it was again the product of that unique culture of the people of Kurdistan. By writing this piece, I have no intention to secure a political outcome for my people, but I intended to show my pride and joy for being a Kurd and for being a Kurdistani… We will live on as long as we continue fostering this culture.

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