ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Christians joined Muslims to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr and to highlight the peaceful coexistence of various communities in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
The first day of the yearly observance came on Friday, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast for up to 16 hours per day, for 30 days.
As in earlier years, Christians visit Muslim neighbors in several Kurdish-majority cities to congratulate them on the religious event and also to be part of the celebration.
The village of Baze in Duhok province is one of the areas in the Kurdistan Region that Christians and Muslims have been living together in peace for decades.
Oshana Yusuf, a 77-year old Christian resident of Baze began to visit his Muslim neighbors’ homes on Friday, the first day of the three-day celebration, along with his family.
“As long as I can remember, Muslims and Christians share everything in this village,” Yusuf told Kurdistan 24. “Regardless of whether it's a party, funeral, special event, or Eid, we are always together.”
“Thank God, we live together in place," he added. "We've never confronted or fought each other as long as I can remember."
As villagers socialized in each other’s homes in groups, it was hard for an observer to differentiate from appearance alone who belonged to which faith.
“Since the morning, we've joined our Muslim brothers to visit houses to congratulate them on Eid,” Yunadim Kurkis, another Christian resident of the village, said to Kurdistan 24.
“Muslims and Christians have their events and religious ceremonies. We both respect each other and celebrate them together,” he remarked, as he made his neighborly rounds.
Hussein Bazi, a prominent Muslim in the village, explained to Kurdistan 24 that there are four main local religious feasts per year - two of them are related to Islam and the other two to Christianity.
“Just like how we celebrate Muslim Eids, we celebrate in the same way with our Christian brothers,” Bazi said.
The video below shows the joint observance of Eid in the village of Baze:
Other religious communities in the Kurdistan Region also joining Muslims in celebrating the Muslim Eid included Ezidis, Zoroastrians, and Jews.
Unlike many other parts of the Middle East, social coexistence between different ethnic and religious groups has deep roots in the Kurdistan Region, and many non-Kurdish or non-Muslim communities have representatives in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Editing by John J. Catherine