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Rudaw

Kurdistan

Prominent Kurdish politician argues to save Islam from Salafism

By Rudaw 18/1/2019
PUK politician Mala Bakhtiar speaks at a conference on ‘Religion for the 'Individual and Democracy for Everyone’ in Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, on January 17, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV.
PUK politician Mala Bakhtiar speaks at a conference on ‘Religion for the 'Individual and Democracy for Everyone’ in Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, on January 17, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The head of the executive body of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Politburo says that Islam has to be saved from Salafism to pave the road for renewal in Islam, while preserving the sanctities.

In the annual conference of the ‘dabran’ (breakaway) platform, established by Mala Bakhtiar himself and jointly held with the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'homme titled ‘Religion for the 'Individual and Democracy for Everyone,’ the influential Kurdish politician said that Islam needed to be saved from Salafism for the sake of renewal.

“As long as Salafism reigns over religion, religion can never make itself compatible with change. If religion is saved from Salafism, without a doubt, religion can come forward with all changes and give comfort to the soul of the human,” Bakhtiar said in a speech in the opening of the conference in Sulaimani on Thursday.

While encouraging renewal, Bakhtiar added that they have “unlimited” respect for all religions, sects, and that beliefs are free for all. “God, Quran, the Prophet and the prophets of other religions are red lines,” Bakhtiar asserted.

The figures of the Enlightenment weren’t “atheists,” he argued, claiming they respected religion. “The difference between the [figures] of enlightenment and dogmatic religious individuals is that they have a new interpretation for religion,” added Bakhtiar.

Recent reading and research of religious texts can be important for democracy, individual and female freedom to save religion from fundamentalism, he argued.


The PUK politician denied that his stance, which he says sets a precedent in the Middle East and Kurdistan, is anti-religion because claims of him being so propaganda that has been dwindling.

Bakhtiar’s stance comes at the heels of the defeat of ISIS, a Salafist jihadi organization that has wreaked havoc in the Middle East with the ultimate goal of the establishment of a “caliphate.”

More than 500 Kurdish youth are believed to have joined ISIS.

Increasingly moderate voices espouse the need to work on a message of peaceful co-existence in Kurdistan that has been relatively safe from extremism and fundamentalism.

Officials publicly argue that ISIS may be nearing its defeat militarily, but ideologically there is still a difficult battle ahead.

Some Muslims and scholars argue that the Middle East needs a renaissance and Islam needs a Christian-like reformation to prevent the rise of extremist groups. They are often disregarded, ostracized, and labeled as heretics. 

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josfe | 18/1/2019
You should thinking of saving Islam from Shia and Wahabbism instead.
Hishyar Zaxoy | 18/1/2019
Here are some facts:1) God and prophets stories are all fake and we created god, not the other way around.These stories were created by rulers at the time. 2) Religion is a way of cultural identity, not just doctrine. Most of the western people are in effect atheist christians who may view us as atheist muslims. 3) Politicians are always very afraid of religion because they target support for their chairs. 4) we should not challenge Islam for the sake of appeasing to others. 5)we had to respect our parents culture and our neighbouring countries.
Hama | 18/1/2019
There is a lot wrong with our culture and certain aspects or versions of Islam. The most URGENT thing right now is improvement of women's rights. And can you believe that in KRG today, Islamic law as interpreted by male conservatives, is the rule of law in matters concerning family affairs? This means that women cannot get a divorce on their own. After divorce they lose their children because men keep the children, even though the women cared for them more than the men since and before birth. Not to mention the huge social stigma against divorce or unmarried women. Finally there is the HUGE and COMPLETELY ignored problem of honor killings. Hundreds of women killed each year and thousands beaten and threatened every day resulting in extremely high suicide rates for Kurdish women. This is not acceptable. KRG politicians are not doing enough. They are only focused on politics and not on moral cleansing of our culture. More must be done.
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 18/1/2019
"They are often disregarded, ostracized, and labeled as heretics" ... A thousand years ago, Mu'tazili were slaughtered for merely restating what many Salafi-abrogated verses in the Quran say - that logic and reason can help Man understand the Divine.
Kurd | 19/1/2019
Mala Bakhtiyar, as the head of the executive body of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Politburo, what are you doing about the members of your own party stealing oil as you yourself claimed on tv??? Is this going to be like when the high ranking former minister,general and politburo member of PUK shot up a building and nothing happened? I guess you condone the corruption and crimes comitted by your fellow party members or you're just too honorless to quit your meaningless job!!!

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