Towards a National Anthem for Kurdistan

Raber Aziz

By Raber Younis Aziz:

I watched a short video footage of Ahmet Kaya, the great Kurdish artist who was honored in 1999 for his art by the Magazine Journalists Association in Turkey. In the footage, Kaya appears on stage as he receives the award and says, “I am receiving this award on behalf of everyone struggling for human rights. In my next album, I will sing in Kurdish and will make a Kurdish video clip. I am sure there are courageous TV people who will air this.”

But no sooner he said  this than he was showered with swear words by the attending Turkish artists. Some of shout angrily that there is nothing called “Kurd” or “Kurdish language”. It was heart breaking. I did a little research, reading  related articles, watching other videos, and found out that that night he was also pelted with forks and spoons by the attendants and that he barely survived. He was attacked by the mainstream Turkish media as a “traitor”, and prosecuted. He was sent into exile where he died the following year.

Today, I read on one Kurdish news outlet that Turkey’s Nationalist People’s Party (MHP) opposes efforts to have a Kurdish language dictionary printed by the state printing and publishing facility. Mehmet Gunal of the MHP has reportedly said in the Turkish parliament that recognizing Kurdish language divides the state language and serves as a step toward federalism in the country.

I understood the Kurdish sentiment behind the article. I am also a Kurd and all that denial of the Kurdish identity, culture and language is very relatable. I was heartbroken again. I just can’t understand how a person can deny the ethnic and cultural identity of someone else. How can you hold so much hate for someone else just because they are different from you? I can never imagine myself doing that to someone. Can you, as a Kurd who has seen decades of discrimination, denial, and forced assimilation, imagine yourself doing it? Perhaps the answer is a resounding “Of course, not!” and perhaps some of you might even think, “What a stupid question!”

Well let’s do a little test here.

I also read that a few members of the Islamic Group of Kurdistan (IGK) – an opposition party in the Kurdistan Parliament – did not stand up in a Kurdistan parliament meeting when the Kurdish Anthem was played. They based their rejection of the anthem on grounds that it contained blasphemy, and late some of their brethren said it did not represent all ethnic groups in Kurdistan which stirred outrage amongst the nationalist Kurds on social media networks and has been further hyped up by the media close to the secular parties.

Now, I am not an Islamist person, and I would never vote for an Islamic party. And I do not appreciate what those Islamic MPs did on such grounds that the lyrics of the anthem contain blasphemy, because I have always been of the opinion that poetry should not be treated within rigid frameworks of right and wrong, good and bad. I have also been of the opinion that those Islamic party members generally spend more time worrying about such trivial things than on understanding the poem and its historical and political context. I believe “Ey Reqib” is the “Kurdish” anthem, I honor it, and stand up to its playing.

But…

I do not believe it is a good anthem for “Kurdistan” as in the “Kurdistan Region” which is a federal region in northern Iraq with a diverse ethnic and religious makeup. Let me explain. Kurds, Turkmans, Assyrians, Syriac, Chaldean and Armenians live in Kurdistan and they hold such faiths as Islam, Christianity, Yezidism, Kakayi and Atheism. Ey Reqib is full of praise for the Kurdish valor, bravery, struggle of the Kurdish people, fight for freedom of Kurdish people, the Kurdish identity, the Kurdish language. Did you notice it? It is all “Kurdish” and not diverse as is the “Kurdistan Region”

On many occasions, Kurdish political leaders – and I mean all of them including the Islamic and secular and nationalist leaders alike, and at the top of the list, President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani – have stressed that Kurdistan is not only the land of “Kurds” but also of all the other ethnic groups that live in Kurdistan. And history proves that and I support that statement. So, Kurdistan is the land of Turkmans, Assyrians, Syriac, Chaldean and Armenians as well.

Now, can you, as a Kurd who has seen discrimination, denial, and forced assimilation by the Iraqi Arab nationalist governments, Turkish fascist governments and Persian regimes, imagine why Ey Reqib is not a good national anthem for Kurdistan Region?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then I believe it has reminded you that the anthem is hurting other minority groups in Kurdistan and it should be replaced. That does not mean that we have to give it up altogether. We can still retain it as the “Kurdish” anthem – “Kurdish” as in “that which pertains to Kurds”, as opposed to the “Kurdistan national anthem” where Kurdistan is a federal region with a mixed ethnic structure.There needs to be this distinction between an anthem for Kurdistan (the diverse region) and an anthem for Kurds (only homogenous group)

I am assuming that there will not be a flat “No” answer, but rather something like “Yes I understand, BUT… blah blah blah”

But there is only one right answer. If you are thinking that Ey Reqib should still be the national anthem of Kurdistan, then I beg you to consider this: If you are old enough to remember the Baath Regime in Iraq and the then-Iraqi national anthem – I remember singing it in school, though not its connotations – How did you like it when you heard the anthem glorifying the “Arab land” and its “Arab headscarf” and how the “Arab sands” kindled a “revolution”?

If your answer is that you did not hate it and believed it was okay because it was the national anthem, then you were either too young to know, like I was, or too busy to be worrying about it for whatever reason, or you were simply a fake Kurd.

And if you hated it and yet still want Ey Reqib to remain as the anthem of Kurdistan then you are doing nothing different from what Saddam Hussein and the repressive governments of Iraq, Turkey and Iran did – and may be still doing – to Kurds for decades. You have taken the exact same steps.

Raber Y. Aziz is a Kurdish observer, blogger, translator, and ex-journalist from Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. His works have appeared on various Kurdish print and online media outlets among them AKnews, Hawlati Newspaper, Aso Newspaper, Kurd Net, and others. He is currently an English Studies and Communication (ESC) MA student at Valparaiso University, Indiana, US. He can be reached at raber.aziz@gmail.com, or follow him on his blog: http://kurdishobserver.blogspot.com/

 

Copyright © 2013 Kurdistantribune.com

8 Responses to Towards a National Anthem for Kurdistan
  1. Jingoist
    November 8, 2013 | 13:34

    I disagree with the writer about the different nationalities in kurdistan. Nobody have stopped anyone from wanting their language,I belive there already is different languages being taught in some schools;the government would not in my view block the attempt of anyone wanting to argue for the case aginst even the national anthem;what these mullahs did (who are kurds themselves) is arguing aginst the content of the anthem and basing their argument on relegious nuttery. They are still free;but one of them has been a terrorist and he should be scrutinized and taken to court for his past.

    • Raber Y. Aziz
      November 8, 2013 | 23:32

      Thank you for your view, it was noted. However, the point here not the issue in the parliament, as much as it is a reminder to all Kurds that because we have fought the monsters we should be careful not to become monsters ourselves. The parliament issue is just used as a trigger, a launchpad, for the point that there needs to be a distinction between “Kurdish Anthem” and “Kurdistan Anthem”. I believe it is high time this issue is resolved. Kurdish anthem is Ey Reqib and it can remian the same for eternity. But Kurdistan (which is a diverse region where other groups besides Kurds live) needs to have a Kurdistan anthem that stresses the identity of being a Kurdistani, so as to include Turkmans, Assyrians, Chaldean, Syriac, Armenians, as well. thank you for the comment gain.

      Raber

  2. Sarbast M. Alzebari
    November 8, 2013 | 14:14

    Nice explanation Raber! It is of a common courtesy not to do to other what you hate being done to you! If none do, Kurds should understand, feel and appreciate such a sense, given that they have had a lot of it.

  3. Baha
    November 8, 2013 | 19:36

    That’s definitely right dear Raber… it’s been a few days i observe , no observer could make such statement… weldone again and again…

  4. Kuvan Bamarny
    November 9, 2013 | 08:16

    The true colors of Kurdistan Islamic Union ( Yekgirtûy islâmî Kurdistân) is slowly emerging after they
    have gained more seats in the parlament.They are gradually becoming a changeling, not only to the National anthem or secular Kurdish political parties of kurdistan ,but also a challenge to the liberal lifestyle of people in the society of kurdistan.

    For example ,I have been living in kurdistan for almost 4 months and during my visits to public places ,like Bazaar ,park and shopping centers ,I have noticed that the followers of the Islamic union , make rude comments about Kurdish girls and boys who slightly dress up in modern liberal styles , especially about girls who wear tight jeans and dye their hair blond.They call them western nymphos.They also make rude comments about boys ( including myself) with fit body and big muscles .While they pass by ,they indirectly spit at boys and call them ( Jensi) and compare them to black rapper guys.

    • Omar
      November 9, 2013 | 12:38

      Good! Alhamdulillah! At least the KIU will not allow the Kurds to be useful idiots to Israel and the West. I couldn’t care about liberalism and this and that importation from the West. Why is the West automatically considered superior and why, if it is not as Westerners do, unacceptable?

      If any of you on here are true Muslims, you will not put ethnicity, flags and stupid songs (national anthems) before your religion. Yes Arabs (who aren’t an ethnic group anyway), Turks (ditto), Kurds etc have fought and quarrelled with one another. However this is divide and rule in action: if Muslims are united, there would be absolutely no need for any border between our territories. A Kurd would be able to walk from Duhok to Muscat and from Rabat in Morocco to Zakho.

      Stop allowing us to be useful idiots! Stop pandering to the West!

  5. Kuvan Bamarny
    November 9, 2013 | 13:35

    Omar :It would be a good idea if you take a look at this article that hopefully would make you think twice before you make biased comments and judgment about life style of people of kurdistan.
    http://kurdistantribune.com/2012/kurdistan-needs-independent-judiciary/

    • Omar
      November 21, 2013 | 17:33

      Hi Kuvan. I am of Kurdish stock and know that Kurds traditionally are conservative. My point is that just because things are the way they are in the West, where liberalism and secularism have led to moral bankruptcy, does not mean it is the standard to be followed.

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