The Jewish representtaion held the first ever Holocaust ceremony in Kurdistan Region in 2015. During the ceremony, for the first time since decades Jews were openly wearing their yarmulke (kippah) in Kurdistan. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The official representative of the Jewish community has announced that they have suspended their representation at the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Religious Affairs indefinitely for “some reasons” without giving any further details.
“Because of some reasons we have suspended our representation at the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs until an undeclared time,” Sherzad Omar Mamsani announced on his Facebook page on Thursday.
The representation was opened in 2015 after the Kurdish parliament passed a law officially recognizing the Jewish community with full ethno-religious rights, along other minority religions.
Nabaz Ismail, the spokesperson for the ministry told Rudaw English that they have not been notified officially of the suspension.
Ismail said Mamsani was conducting his official duties when he last saw him a few days ago.
Mariwan Naqshbandi, a senior official at the ministry, however was aware of some issues that Mamsani raised with him as recently as yesterday, mainly about “the lack of funding” to their representation.
Naqshbandi noted that Mamsani did not inform his ministry officially, adding that the Kurdish authorities have not been able to provide financial support because of the ongoing financial crisis.
The region is in the third year of an economic crisis and the government is operating under austerity measures.
Naqshbandi claimed another person, who was also co-named the representative of the Jewish community, is now responsible for Jewish affairs at the ministry. Ismail was unaware if there is a second “official” representative.
Rudaw English tried multiple times to contact Mamsani for comment, but he was unavailable.
Commenting on the issue of protecting the religious sites of the Jewish community in Kurdistan, Mamsani told Rudaw English last month that the KRG would like to help the Jewish community but it is for now constrained financially.
The representation held the first Jewish Remembrance Day for Victims of the Holocaust in Kurdistan last year in Erbil, which was also attended by the representatives of the American, French and Russian consulates in Erbil, as well as of Assyrian and Armenian churches in the region.