The resurrected Kurdophobia in Iran following Tehran attack

Shortly after a twin attack hit Tehran last week, Iranian intelligence agency and the Islamic State (IS) released videos where attackers spoke in Kurdish.

LOS ANGELES, United States (Kurdistan24) – Shortly after a twin attack hit Tehran last week, Iranian intelligence agency and the Islamic State (IS) released videos where attackers spoke in Kurdish.

IS claimed responsibility for the attacks and bragged about recruiting Sunni Kurds and Arabs to avenge the religious oppression of the discriminatory Shia regime of Iran.

The terror attack raised questions about the organization and operation of IS and other insurgent or Salafi groups in Iran.

The Iranian authorities blame the presence of IS in neighboring Iraq for the growth of Salafism in Iran’s predominantly Sunni regions especially the provinces of Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan.

The chain of events reignited a dormant hatred of Kurds in Iran which defines Kurds as “killers” and “separatists” and an overall “threat to an otherwise stable Iran.”

The announcement of the independence referendum date from the Kurdistan Region also further fueled the fear and hatred which boldly presented itself in the headline of a major Iranian paper that claimed: “Write ‘the country of Kurdistan,’ read ‘the country of Da’esh [IS].’”  

Screengrab of the headline of a major Iranian paper:
Screengrab of the headline of a major Iranian paper: "Write 'the country of Kurdistan,' read 'the country of Da'esh [IS].'"

Overlooking Kurds’ victories against IS and instead associating the ethnic minority with the most barbaric terror group caused a storm of reactions on social media.

Haters took to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to spread accusations against Kurds, calling them violent separatists.

Kurds also used the social media platforms to defend themselves against the generalizations by mentioning a history of democratic movements in Iranian Kurdistan.

In response to Kurdophobia accusations against Iranian media, the editor of a prominent Iranian paper dismissed the term as the “new plot” of the enemy.

Moreover, to prove his point, he stated Kurds “are still allowed to be peddlers in Tehran subways.”

The response further outraged Kurds who believe the editor and his supporters are either “appallingly ignorant” or are “deliberately demeaning Kurds” through misrepresentations.

A German-Kurdish journalist pointed out that such presentation of Kurds is a historical way of downgrading their role in the economy and society in general.

The lack of understanding of racism, and the mainstream media’s inability to present Kurds in a non-humiliating manner indicates a deeper problem in Iranian society where racism is normalized.

It is also a way of diverting attention from Iran’s role in expanding “Jihadi” philosophy in certain areas of Kurdistan.

Tehran systematically ignored and at times supported the activities of the Salafists as it benefited the government to curb the Kurdish aspiration and use the group as a shield against the US presence in the neighboring countries.

The policy had a blow back at a time when Iran had been priding itself on having stayed safe in the middle of a war-torn region.

The Tehran attacks occurred less than a month after the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani’s landslide victory defeated candidates supported by the hardline clergy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

One of Iran’s strongest propaganda tools to attract voters was the stability of the country.

The government has banked on horrors of invasions to earn legitimacy. Iranians are fearful their country may be torn apart like their neighbors: Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Iran is now directing the blame on Kurds to regain the lost legitimacy, resurrecting a dormant hatred of Kurds as the outsiders and threat to stability.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany