Kurdish imam condemns Erdogan’s religious references to attack on north Syria
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Imam Masoud, a well-known Kurdish religious figure from Erbil, during Friday prayers condemned recent religious references made Turkey’s president appearing to justify ongoing cross border attacks on Kurdish-majority areas of northern Syria.
“They are liars. The mullahs of Turkey, Istanbul, and Ankara who are making fatwas [legitimatizing] the killing of Kurds are all liars,” he said to a fully packed mosque.
The imam was responding to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent tweet in Arabic in which he wrote that he “kissed all the members of the army of Mohammed – the heroes participating in Operation Peace Spring – on their foreheads.”
The pro-Turkish government Yeni Akit newspaper has also invoked religion in a similar way, announcing, “Go tell the infidels, Mohammed’s army has returned.”
In February 2018, while Turkey was carrying out its “Operation Olive Branch” against Kurdish forces in the Syrian city of Afrin, the Dutch government investigated a Friday sermon on jihad issued by the top Turkish Islamic body called Diyanet which controls thousands of mosques across Turkey and Europe.
Dutch officials were worried that members of their nation’s youth would be inspired by sermons praising holy war and martyrdom.
Imam Masoud said on Friday that he did not accept arguments of Turkish religious bodies and officials claiming that their troops fight in the name of Islam against the Kurds, who have fought against the Islamic State.
“This land is your land; Iraqi Kurdistan is Kurdish land, Turkish Kurdistan is Kurdish land, Syrian Kurdistan is Kurdish land. Whoever takes over your land, kill them with no mercy,” he continued, referencing religion himself in regards to land disputes. “They shall rot in hell. And you’re a martyr because you died defending your land.”
Apart from Imam Masoud, Islamic parties in the Kurdistan region have also condemned the Turkish offensive.
Kurdish researcher and lecturer in sociology at Soran University, Ibrahim Malazada, told Kurdistan 24 that “many Kurdish intellectuals and activists were blaming Kurdish Islamic parties” for “abandoning Kurdish issues and not supporting their brothers against Erdogan and his party.”
He noted that some Kurdish religious figures have been completely silent, such as Qatar-based Dr. Ali Qaradaghi, President of the World Federation of Muslim Preachers, an organization close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“This is because he doesn’t want to say anything against Erdogan and his aggression against the Kurds,” continued the academic.
“However, this time there are many Muslim preachers and some Islamists [that] have refused Turkish aggression and occupation against Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan]. This is because they have been blamed and the situation of Rojava is very critical and no one will forgive them if Rojava [is] occupied,” he said, adding, “I think it is not an ideological principle, but the reality is different.”
On Friday, Imam Masoud concluded his speech, with the Quranic verse, “People, pray to your God and fear a day that comes, where parents can’t protect their children, where children can’t protect their parents; that’s the judgment day.”
Editing by John J. Catherine