Victims of the Establishment

December 5, 2011

President Barzani needs to set up a second committee to investigate the conduct of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Zakho and Bahdinan since 1991, when they took control of the region.

Regardless of the damage of the riots last week in these towns in Dohuk province — which hurt Kurdistan’s reputation — the region’s political establishment should seriously investigate what exactly occurred, examine the causes of the events and admit responsibility for creating a culture of ignorance and barbarism.

Last week, I wrote about the rising role and weight of the Kurdish region in regional politics, especially following the meeting of Syria’s political parties with the president. Ironically, this week we are talking about the region’s shaky situation and how ignorance and bigotry can ruin everything.

In a nutshell, here is what happened: In a country that says it is part of the free, modern and tolerant world, a group of young men, most under 20 years old, listened to the preachings of a mullah, and then decided to go out and vent their anger and score victory against the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society — the Christians and the Yezidis.

After hearing fiery sermons against un-Islamic businesses, the rioters ransacked or set alight liquor stores, hotels, massage parlors, shops and a Kurdistan Islamic Union office. This is occurring in a place that brands itself as a shining example of “the other Iraq.”

The political parties, which are now trying to blame each other for what happened, shouldn’t forget that regardless of the upbringing or political affiliation of these looters and criminals, they are all the product of Kurdish rule as most of them were born after 1991.

The events of Zakho and Bahdinan were a stark reminder of London’s riots and looting. One of the main reactions that came after establishing the rule of law was the need to reform the education system and develop a youth that could distinguish right from wrong.

One of the most modern concepts in governance is investment in people, not in things. The main reason is to prevent events like these riots, which clearly show that Kurdistan hasn’t done much in that respect.

The words of tolerance and separation of religion and politics, and the difference between Jihad and criminality, remain abstract concepts — as demonstrated by these events.

The political establishment of Kurdistan should see this as a big warning. They have failed to create a generation that can tell the difference between right and wrong. They have failed to create a tolerant new generation than can tell the difference between being religious and being a criminal.

In this respect, and specifically with this incident, the KDP is responsible. They have always bragged about the fact that Dohuk governorate is theirs, at least as far as the election results showed.

The Kurdish authorities are investigating the incidents. However, if the KDP is truly governing the region, then Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani should form another committee to investigate how the KDP is conducting its affairs in these areas and what are they actually doing to promote tolerance and respect for others.

They need to probe how a generation that doesn’t see anything wrong with trespassing on and wrecking someone’s property was raised during their leadership. Because it appears it will be difficult to get them to do anything else when the most critical time comes.

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