Editor’s Note: Most Americans know little or nothing about the Kurds, except perhaps that recently, the United States and Kurds were allied in the fight against ISIS. An estimated 25 to 40 million Kurds comprise one of the world’s largest stateless nations. But in October, President Trump withdrew U.S. troops from the border between Turkey and Syria, and Turkish troops entered Northern Syria to attack the Kurds. Both the Kurdish and Turkish forces were U.S. allies, and the withdrawal was seen by some as a betrayal of the Kurds. The U.S. and allied intervention in Syria was a complicated arrangement designed to bring military force against ISIS, and the political and military situation is ongoing and very troublesome. While the fighting continues, World Religion News brings you the voice of Ceko Kurd, a Kurd living in the United States. As he was writing this opinion piece, he learned that a cousin had died during a bomb attack in Rojava, an autonomous region in Northern Syria. While World Religion News follows the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and believes it is religious intolerance not religion itself that causes conflict, we bring you an angry Kurdish voice, something unique and passionate. As usual, the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of World Religion News.


Kurdish children in Sulaymaniyah by James Dale

Kurdish children in Sulaymaniyah by James Dale

Ever since I was a young Kurd in Rojava – Western Kurdistan, Northeast Syria – I grew up with Islam. The language of Islam being Arabic forced us to arabicize our own language. What this did to our culture was severe; it made us lose a lot of our language and traditions, it made Kurds fight against other Kurds.

The Kurds originally practiced Zoroastrianism, and Yazidism, but once Islam emerged, we were considered infidels or non-believers. Islam was quite successful at forcing most Kurds to be Muslims. As a matter of fact, the Yazidis, who are Kurdish speakers, but do not consider themselves Kurds, so far have recorded 73 genocide attempts by followers of Islam against their people, most recently in 2014 with ISIS. Most of those genocide attempts were by Islamic leaders, especially the Ottoman Empire of Islam.

Once many Kurds were forced to Islam, and had been assimilated for a few hundred years, even the Kurds themselves started killing Yazidis. In the four regions where Kurdistan lies – Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey – there has always been manipulation with religion against Kurds. For instance, in Turkey, the fascist leaders and Turkish dictators have always said to the Kurds, “We are all Muslim, we are brothers,” even though they have eradicated over 5,000 Kurdish villages, in Bakur, Northern Kurdistan region, or Southwestern Turkey, under the name of terrorism.

Once we were left out of talks when the allies, Great Britain and France, were shaping the modern map of the Middle East, without our permission with the stroke of a pen in 1923, we were landless. The aftermath was brutal, Turkey’s founding father Kemal Mustafa made sure the country practiced the law of “one flag, one language,” that being Turkish of course.

1992 map of Kurdish inhabited area in the Middle East

1992 map of Kurdish inhabited area in the Middle East

Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein even gassed thousands of Kurds in the Anfal genocidal campaign where over 182,000 majority Kurds and other minorities died, because of being labeled as separatists, and non-believers. Iran’s favorite way of killing the Kurds is by hanging the Kurds from cranes, and the excuse of the Islamic Republic of Iran is, enmity against God (moharebeh). That could even mean speaking Kurdish or asking for more democratic rights. Now Syria’s laws against Kurds could be looked as the least harsh, especially when speaking about religion and Islam. They rather tried to Arabicize the Kurds by placing Arabs in Kurdish areas, and taking the documents and passports of thousands of Kurds, making them illegal on their own land. Once ISIS arrived on the surface of the earth like a creature from hell, the most extreme form of Sunni Islam came forth into full swing. I would like to note that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS practice the harshest form of Islam. They follow a fundamentalist, Salafi Jihadist doctrine of Sunni Islam. After they took over Mosul, Iraq, they started committing genocide against the Yazidis, which are also Kurds. The most people they killed were actually Sunni Muslims themselves, with that action one knows that this was not about religion, but merely a political tool to terrorize their opponents, or anyone that does not agree with their ideology, even if that means Sunni Muslims themselves. But the fight against Kurds is deeply rooted in Islam, even in the Hadith or Islamic traditions and stories, it says that, do not awaken them (Kurds) except by a limit of the sword. There is even an excerpt that talks about the people who wear shoes made from sheep’s skin, which refers to the Kurds. It further says, do not convert them, because they cannot be converted, just kill them.

The recent fight against ISIS and their blatant and open massacre and genocide against the Kurdish “infidels” have many Kurds wondering why, “even though we are Muslims we are still being killed in the name of Islam.” Muslims say that these fundamentalists do not represent true Islam, but then who does? Many Islamic countries and nations have not condemned the behavior of ISIS, especially Turkey. The Muslim majority countries that did condemn them was not because of ISIS’ fascist treatment and murderous behavior towards the Kurds, but rather because of their action against other Arabs.

Today the Kurds want to be known as secular and are secular, they will work with any faction and religion, even religions and peoples that have massacred us before, as long as we can respect the rights and freedoms of other ethnicities and religions, and as long as religion is not involved within the government framework.