Kurdistan’s peaceful co-existence impresses European Jewish Congress
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – European Jewish Congress (EJC) delegation visited Kurdistan Region and admired the social harmony and peaceful co-existence between different religions in the Region, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official told K24 on Thursday.
EJC delegation headed by their Vice President Edwin Shuker met Sherzad Omar Mamsani the Jewish Representative at the KRG Ministry of Endowment & Religious Affair, and Mariwan Naqshbandi the spokesperson of the Ministry.
Mamasani mentioned that the delegation was surprised by what they witnessed during their visit. “International media distorts Kurdistan Region’s image, but when we visited the Region, we were impressed by the peaceful co-existence between people of different religious and ethnic background. This is a rare case in the Middle East,” Mamsani quoted Shuker.
The KRG official noted that the delegation was impressed to see Kurdish Muslims opened the door of the mosques to accommodate non-Muslim Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) such as Ezidis. “This is something you can’t find in other Middle Eastern countries,” he stated.
The delegation was also impressed that Kurdish media refuses to demonize the 1.8 million refugees and IDPs in the Region. “In Europe, the number of refugees is fewer, yet media often targets them,” Shuker told Mamsani.
Regarding the number of Jewish people in the Kurdistan Region, Mamsani said, “Regardless of how many of them reside in Kurdistan, KRG laws dictate that every single person in the Region has the right to freely practice their religion and have their representative in the ministry.”
Moreover, Naghshbandi revealed that the delegation has offered to help the Region to revitalize the ancient and historic shrines and religious sites.
“There are hundreds of holy places in the Kurdistan Region that people around the world would love to visit. The ministry is currently working on expanding religious tourism,” Naqshbandi said.
The delegates stated that they will help the Ministry through special tourism companies to bring pilgrims to the Region.
“Kurdistan Region is the only place among Muslim communities that has official Jewish representative in the government, and it is the first time such a highly-regarded Jewish delegation officially visits us,” Naqshbandi said.
“Their visit indicates that Kurdistan Region is completely different from Iraq and the Middle East, especially from other Muslim countries,“ he concluded.
Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Ava Homa