ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Erbil has responded to a statement from the al-Azhar, one of Sunni Islam’s highest authorities in Egypt, against the Kurdish independence referendum, saying that the Muslim world should give credit to the Kurds for protecting many Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis and that the Arab world have long ignored injustices done to the Kurds by the Iraqi government.
“You speak of the destabilization of the Sunni world because of us becoming independent,” reads the response from the KRG religious affairs ministry published on Wednesday. “Didn't your scholars who visited Kurdistan tell you that they saw for themselves how Kurdistan had become a castle and cradle for the displaced Sunnis?”
“Your scholars can testify that we protected the Sunnis in the region and defended the principles of brotherhood,”
The message reads that the Kurdistan Region is built on coexistence.
“Do not lecture us on coexistence, we are the leaders in this field,” says the ministry in a seven-point statement. “In our ministry, we have more than a general directorate for religions, in which all religions are represented.”
The ministry goes on to say that the Kurdish independence referendum will not put anyone at risk, especially the Sunni community, and that it is the policies of the Iraqi central government that has put the Sunnis through all kinds of hardship.
The statement points out that the statement from al-Azhar is unfair and ignores the injustices Kurds have been though in Iraq.
“What are these crocodile tears you are shedding for the integrity of Iraq?” it reads. “We the Kurds have been for years suffering from injustice, killings and displacement incurred upon us by the consecutive Iraqi governments. Where is your stance on all this injustice done to the Kurdish Muslim nation?”
The Kurdish ministry says that the people of Kurdistan have the legal and religious right to build a state of their own.
“We have sought our rights within the framework of the law, constitution and Sharia,” said the ministry. “We will be building our state and achieving freedom through the sacrifice of our martyrs.”
The KRG ministry lists the Anfal genocidal campaign, the gassing of Halabja and freezing Erbil’s share of the federal budget as some examples of crimes and injustices perpetrated by Baghdad against the Kurds.
“If you are that concerned about the interests of the Sunni brothers in Iraq where are your statements on the disgusting and brutal actions perpetrated by the Shiite militias against the Sunni communities, ranging from erasing their identity, killing of the religious scholars, invading and blowing up their mosques, expelling the Sunnis from their own indigenous places to erasing their legacy?”
The statement goes on to say that 40 million Kurds deserve a state, too, like all other nations including the Arabs.
“Why would it be halal for you the Arabs to have more than 20 countries and haram for us the Kurds whose population is more than 40 million to have a state? What would this do to your position?” says the ministry.