ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Interior Minister and the Governor of Erbil on Saturday condemned the recent clashes between Arab tourists and residents in the Kurdistan Region’s capital.
Social media activists released footage of a fist-fight between a group of people in Erbil’s city center on Valentine’s Day, last Wednesday.
The clashes occurred when a group of tourists from the Iraqi city of Basra allegedly printed the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias name on a billboard and placed it near the Erbil citadel before insulting locals, a shopkeeper who was near the incident when it happened told Kurdistan 24.
During a press conference following the incident, Erbil governor Nawzad Hadi said the altercation between the Kurds and Arabs in Erbil “is not acceptable, and the KRG’s authorities will take legal action against the perpetrators.”
Hadi added that the 12 people who were involved in the fight and who appeared in the videos had been arrested.
“Such behavior is unacceptable and against the Kurdistan Region’s values of peaceful coexistence between all components of Iraq,” the Governor said.
In an official letter to Basra’s governor, Hadi condemned the incident and expressed his apologies to the Basra governorate, provincial council, and the victims.
Meanwhile, in a phone call with his Iraqi counterpart, KRG Interior Minister Kareem Sinjari condemned the incident, stating that “the perpetrators are under arrest and will be dealt with according to the law.”
Following the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum last September and the attack by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias on the Kurdish-majority province of Kirkuk, relations between Kurdistan and Iraq have deteriorated.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany