Welcoming of Christians Into Iraqi Kurdistan Has Its Downside

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14.jpgBy HEMEN ABDULLLA
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has opened its arms to embrace the persecuted Iraqi Christians. This is indeed a humanitarian act, but simply opening one’s arms is not enough. Groups of people arriving in waves and then having to be found somewhere to live cause many problems (for both the newcomers and the hosts), and so, this subject must be dealt with carefully and objectively.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the terms “Kurds” and “Christians” have appeared together many times in the world’s newspapers. This is not because both were victims of the former regime. On the contrary, the former is viewed as a tyrant, and the latter as being subjected to this tyranny. If even just a small accident happens in Ankawa, and a Kurd is involved, the whole world is informed that “the Kurds have again been oppressing Christians.” The stories have been exaggerated to such an extent that there is no doubt that an anti-Kurdish lobby is behind this. A lobby composed of those chauvinist Arabs, Turkmen and Christians who do not want to see a flourishing Kurdistan. A lobby that takes advantage of anything anti-Kurdish, not so as to serve the Christians, but to use for its own benefit.
A good example was one of the recently released WikiLeaks cables in which a Christian clergyman in Mosul corresponded secretly with American officials concerning the persecution of his people in order to expel them from Mosul. The clergyman talks about the double standards of the Mosul officials, who presented themselves as supporting the Christians while they were actually doing nothing to stop the terror and violence being directed toward the Christians. The clergyman believed this hypocritical behavior had a political motivation, due to the closeness of the elections. The contents of this WikiLeaks document painted a very different picture to the one Iraq’s Christians have been showing the world in regard to their circumstances outside the Kurdistan region. This picture is not the same as the one the anti-Kurdish lobby has been painting either.
The Western media have not reported the KRG’s recent welcoming of Iraqi Christians nearly enough. This indicates that the Kurds do not yet know how to project a good image of themselves to the outside world, which depicts their good deeds, and which would disprove this misrepresentation of Kurds and Christians.
In some recent Western media reports, Christians say the KRG has embraced them, but that there are so many problems facing them here, such as education, housing, employment etc. I believe this is correct, and it is their right to demand improvements regarding these issues. If the Kurds want to present themselves as the saviors of the Christians, then they have to treat the Christians decently and ensure their needs are met. We must bear in mind also that, if Iraqi Kurdistan had not been so welcoming, many European countries would now have to be opening their gates to Iraq’s Christians.
Indeed, opening our arms to a large number of Christians who do not speak Kurdish or have any way of providing accommodation for themselves is not enough. They also need to be helped in their efforts to integrate with Kurdish society. I do not believe that the Christians have any hope of returning to their homes any time soon, so the KRG should be setting a suitable plan in place for teaching the Christians the Kurdish language and finding them accommodation and employment.

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