Kurdistan Region leaders congratulate Christian community on Akitu holiday
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Senior officials of the autonomous Kurdistan Region on Tuesday congratulated Assyrian and Chaldean Christians on the holiday of Akitu, while also using the public address as another opportunity to renew calls for people to follow regulations set by local and regional authorities as part of efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The Assyrian New Year, known as Akitu, marks the beginning of the year 6770 for both denominations. The event is marked annually by members of the Christian community across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
This year, however, authorities have outlawed all gatherings as part of efforts to contain the outbreak of pandemic in the region, a measure that most recently restricted the normally-crowded celebrations of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year.
“I hope this occasion will bring prosperity, happiness, hope, and stability for the people of Kurdistan and all people around the world that have faced a difficult situation due to the outbreak of coronavirus,” President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, said in a statement.
Urging residents of the Kurdistan Region to follow the directives of local authorities, Barzani highlighted the importance of protecting and promoting the culture of peaceful co-existence in the region.
On April 1, Akitu is being officially recognized by the Kurdistan Region's parliament as a key date and public holiday, though only for the Christian community.
Every year, thousands of Assyrians and Chaldeans from the Kurdistan Region and beyond gather together with their families to mark the day with music, dance, and other cultural activities.
“We hope their New Year is one of prosperity which brings an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the Kurdistan Region and the whole world with serious economic consequences,” said Prime Minister Masrour Barzani in his own congratulatory message to the Assyrian and Chaldean communities.
Calling upon all to continue complying with the regional government's strict health instructions during this difficult time, he underlined his cabinet’s commitment to further strengthening the unity between various faiths and ethnicities in the Kurdistan Region.
“The Kurdistan Region is proud of being a shining example of religious coexistence. Our government is firmly committed to upholding the rights of all ethnic and religious groups in our society while deepening interfaith and cultural coexistence,” he concluded.
Also on Tuesday, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced a 10-day extension to the regionwide curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus now in place.
The measure, which restricts even pedestrian movement in many cases, had been set to expire on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Kurdistan Region's Health Ministry confirmed 12 infections across the region over the past 24 hours.
The nationwide tally of coronavirus cases in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, has reached 630, 46 of which have been fatal.
Editing by John J. Catherine