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Prime Minister Barzani: Kurdistan will remain a land of tolerance and coexistence

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani says Kurdistan will remain a land of tolerance and coexistence, as it has been for centuries.

Prime Minister Barzani made the statement during a speech at a conference on “tolerance, Life: Terror Threats and Experience of Coexistence in the Kurdistan Region” on Tuesday.

Below is the transcript of Prime Minister’s speech:

Dear Participants,

Good Morning. I would like to warmly welcome you to this conference on a very important and sensitive issue to the Kurdistan Region. I would also like to thank the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Minister of Culture and their employees for organizing this event. I wish you all the success in this conference; I hope that its outcomes and recommendation will reinforce the coexistence, religions tolerance in the region, also combating terrorism and confronting the violent groups that embarrass and extremist ideology.

I would also like to pay tribute and salute our fallen heroes of Peshmerga, security and volunteer forces, who lost their lives defending the Kurdistan Region and protecting all religions and ethnic groups for the sake of maintaining the culture of peaceful coexistence. My thoughts are with the families of the martyrs and I wish a speedy recovery for the injured.

Kurdistan has long been a land of tolerance and coexistence to different ethnic and religious groups who have been living all in peace for centuries. Despite all the wars, destruction and occupation that Kurdistan has faced for centuries, it has remained a land of many religions and beliefs. Furthermore, the current fraternal relations, coexistence, accepting each other and respect for all religions and components are tremendous achievements.

The historical cohesion among different ethnicities and religions is  a solid base for peace and coexistence.  Therefore, Kurdistan society has become a beacon of hope in the Middle East. This culture of peaceful coexistence has made people from the rest of Iraq who were forced to flee their homes due to violence, atrocities and prosecution they have faced by ISIS to see the Kurdistan Region as a safe haven for themselves.

Moreover, the successful coexistence in the Kurdistan Region has attracted the attention of the of many around the world, from media agencies to research centers. One of the main reasons that international community and coalition forces protect Kurdistan is this culture and co-existence.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When talking about the history and successful experience of coexisting of Kurdistan, we should not forget that despite all the violence, intolerance, extremism terror of darkness, terror acts and genocide against different religious and ethnic groups of the Kurdistan Region, especially against our Yazidis and Christians sisters and brothers, the peaceful coexistence in Kurdistan has remained intact.  However, we should realize that these acts caused , fear, mistrust and agony. They have threatened cultural coexistence in the Region, so obviously there is a difficult task ahead of us.

At a time of tensions and terror threats, the harmony among Kurdistan ethnics and religions must be strengthened. From all sides including policy, administration, education, society should work hard for rebuilding trust among different components that see Kurdistan as their home. A haven that all nations to live in and all free from discrimination based ton beliefs and genders.
The government, people and all ethnic groups have to work together to make a clear message to those wanting to spoil Kurdistan’s experience or under the name of one religion to ruin the other religions and burry its people alive and force them to flee and kill them. The message should be send to them that Kurdistan and its multi ethnic groups have not allowed them to destroy this culture and end thousands of years of coexistence and tolerance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For this purpose and in this situation we reassure that political agreement is needed among all Iraqis including government, political parties and religions to deal with the situation after Mosul liberation. Surely, liberating Mosul is much easier than ruling it afterwards. Unfortunately until now there is no interest for this fact, but has fallen into a state of neglect. Causing the danger of post Mosul liberation is no less than the danger of ISIS existence in the city. Making a real and national agreement from principle of politics, socially, geography and demography areas in Mosul and surroundings which is special areas for all ethnic groups and multi religions. It is the only guarantee for peaceful future for all ethnic groups, it also prevents to light of creating a fire which several sides try to make it for their interior, area and regional agenda. If all parties have not concerned, no one can predict the stable situation and peaceful future for the area. We have to be aware that is a serious direct threat.

Dear Participants,

Defeating, eliminating terror is not only by defeating terrorist forces. From the beginning the was no doubt that Islamic State as a military force and power that control a geographical territory and announced ISIS which is only an empty dream. Although ISIS last Long, at the end ISIS and its followers and sympathizers have not power and authority to maintain. This terrorist groups which is against life and existence, clearly cannot live and maintain. Therefore defeating them is the only time and nothing more. But what is terrifying is ISIS’ beliefs that cannot be deified by weapons, their dark beliefs is more dangerous than their crimes and violent acts. ISIS may disappear, but if we don’t face and eliminate its roots which triggered AL-Qaeda and Al-Ansar yesterday and created ISIS today, then certainly another radical group under another name will appear. Therefore Kurdistan, Iraq and the Region with the international support must carry a campaign against this dangerous ideology.

One of the main aims of this evil ideology is to attack the tolerance and co-existence that Kurdistan has enjoyed for thousands of years, even longer than their dark ideology. Love for life, tolerance, prosperity, modernity and freedom are the exact opposite of their agenda; as they try to reject and destroy life, humanity, modernity and stability.

Once political stability is provided and co-existence is protected, religious leaders, especially Muslim clerics and others, have the main responsibility in promoting awareness that religion is a spiritual relation between humans and the Almighty God, not a tool to reject other humans and beliefs.

Educational institutions must also give significant attention to promoting diversity, tolerance and co-existence, from kindergartens to high schools to universities. Intellectuals, cultural centers and the media could also an important role. If we stand idly by, if we don’t counter and crush extremism, our cultural values of co-existence and tolerance will face existential threats.

As we just celebrated the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, and we are 12 days away for Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, it’s my hope that all these religious celebrations and events become the foundation for strengthening diversity, co-existence and tolerance.

Finally, I wish this conference all the success, and I hope that its outcomes, the researches presenting here and recommendation provide methods of protecting and reinforcing cultural coexistence and religious tolerance in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, also method of confronting radical ideology and terrorism, method of dealing with the situation after Mosul liberation from politics, administration to reorganization. So that government and relevant sides and people get benefit to mange to succeed in coexistence, tolerance, face and eliminate radicalism and terrorism. Once again I would like to thank the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Dr. Yusuf Goran and Minister of Culture, Mr. Khaled Doski and their employees for organizing this conference.

I would also like to especially welcome Mr. Ismail Besikci, who is present here today.  He has put a great deal of effort in defending Kurdish rights in Turkey; he has been jailed for this reason, and he still continues to defend Kurdish rights today.  On behalf of all participants in this conference, we welcome him, and it is an honor that he is here with us.
Thank you.

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