A little Kurdish girl waves the Kurdistan flag among hundreds in Erbil to support the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The president has urged referendum campaigners to remember the values of “brotherhood and co-existence” in order to strengthen Kurdistan’s friendship with its neighbours in Iraq and warned them against harsh language.
"The referendum will in no way affect the continued friendship and brotherhood between the Kurdistan and Iraq nations, but rather deepen and strengthen it. We know that Iraqi nationals became victims at the hands of Iraqi dictatorship regimes and were on the same frontline with the Kurdistan nation," read a statement from Masoud Barzani on Sunday.
The statement added, "We call upon the people of Kurdistan to consider the high values of our nation and the historical culture of brotherhood and co-existence between the religious and ethnic components when they express their will and rights."
He explained that it was oppressive regimes and Iraqi governments that ruined the partnership between Kurdistan and Iraq, not Kurdistan.
Harsh comments opposing co-existence are “far away from the culture of tolerance in the Kurdistan nation,” he said.
Barzani’s statement follows an eruption of anger among Kurds after tribal and some fighters from the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi took down the Kurdistan flag from Mandali’s city hall in Diyala province after the local government voted to join the independence referendum.
The news went viral on social media where some Kurds condemned the move and called for the Iraqi flag to be taken down in the Kurdistan Region’s cities.
"Let our youth take the Iraqi Arab flag down in return across the Kurdistan Region to honor Mandali," urged Ali Nuri.
"The Hashd al-Shaabi is a terrorist organization. We have to wage a fight against them, making them face what ISIS faced," Nejervan Barhulli commented on a Rudaw post.
"If it was easily done in Mandali, then what would happen in Kirkuk which the whole world has its eyes on?” asked Chalak Chimany. Kirkuk’s decision to fly the Kurdistan flag alongside the Iraqi earlier this year caused national and regional outrage.