Erbil cancels holiday celebrations due to Hamdaniya and Soran tragedies

The governor announced the decision after meeting with the general directorates of tourism and health, Asayish forces, and Zeravani forces.
Erbil Governor Omed Khoshnaw (top center) during his meeting with top Erbil officials, Dec. 18, 2023. (Photo: Erbil governorate)
Erbil Governor Omed Khoshnaw (top center) during his meeting with top Erbil officials, Dec. 18, 2023. (Photo: Erbil governorate)

ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – Erbil Governor Omed Khoshnaw on Monday announced that all Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in the province will be canceled this year, according to a statement by the governorate.

The governor announced the decision after meeting with the general directorates of tourism and health, Asayish forces, and Zeravani forces.

He cited this year’s Hamdaniya and Soran fires, in which a large number of citizens were killed and injured, as the reasoning behind the decision.

"However, citizens are free to celebrate in hotels and tourist attractions,” the statement read.

Moreover, Khoshnaw announced that hooliganism and sexual offenders during the New Year celebration “will be punished,” with offenders facing arrest. This remark comes as the province has developed a reputation for a high incidence of crimes during the holiday.

This announcement coincides with a statement by Erbil’s Chaldean Patriarchate, who on Sunday announced that all activities in clubs and churches during Christmas and New Year's Eve will be canceled in protest against the removal of Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako from his role as patriarch, among other issues faced by the community.

Read More: Christians call off holiday celebrations throughout Iraq

On Sept. 26, a fire broke out in Hamdaniya's wedding hall, resulting in the deaths of 133 people, with nearly all of the victims being Christians.

Another fire broke out on Dec. 8, at a residential building in Soran district in northern Erbil province, where at least 14 people had been killed while 13 others were wounded, including firefighters.

Editing by Dastan Muwaffaq