ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The head of Iraq's largest Turkmen party called on members of the ethnic minority to have more children to offset a low birth rate compared to other populations and boost their numbers in the country.
"Even if the living conditions are difficult today, the (Turkmen) should increase the number of their children," wrote Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Arshad Salihi on his official Facebook page.
In a video included in the post, Salihi praised an elderly man who said he had 11 sons.
"We need to multiply our population," he said.
Salihi, also a member of the Iraqi parliament, said that the traditional number of members in Turkmen families was typically not less than ten, but has dwindled in recent years.
"So, our young people should not repeat the mistakes of those who did not keep up these numbers."
Iraq's Turkmen live primarily in Kirkuk, a province claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq. The population is made up of Turkmen, Arabs, Christians, and a Kurdish majority.
There are no current reliable statistics for the number of Turkmen nationwide because it has been decades since a full census was tallied. Turkmen are commonly recognized as being Iraq's third largest ethnic group, behind Arabs and Kurds.