Peshmerga soldiers honoring Flag Day in Kurdistan.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – On Flag Day in the Kurdistan Region today, markets are bustling with people shopping for the Kurdish flag or Peshmerga outfits to celebrate the occasion.
“We have a festival at school and we will wear the Peshmerga outfit and carry the Kurdish flag,” said Shirin Safin, a high school student out shopping in a busy market.
The day has been marked in schools across Kurdistan for many years. Students and teachers usually wear traditional Kurdish costumes. But this year, in solidarity with Kurdish soldiers fighting the Islamic State (ISIS), most Kurds are wearing the Peshmerga uniform.
“We have decided to wear the Peshmerga outfit out of respect for the Peshmerga and our readiness to defend our country,” said Dana Abubakir, a university student out shopping for the right outfit.
Thousands of students and teachers crowded tailor and garment shops in Kurdistan’s cities and towns these days, going through rows of green or khaki outfits that the region’s security and Peshmerga forces wear on the frontlines.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been battling ISIS militants on a 1,050-kilometer border stretching from Mosul to northern Diyala since August.
December 17 was designated as the Kurdistan Flag Day by the Kurdish parliament in Erbil. But the ministry of education has not made an official decision in this regard and has left it to students and teachers to choose what they wear on this day.
But the occasion has now become so popular that in some cities demand for outfits outstrips supplies.
“I’ve got only this daughter but I’ve searched every market and shop and couldn’t find the Peshmerga outfit for her,” said Diler Barzinji, a father with his young daughter in tow. “What can I do now? Her heart is broken.”
Others believe that education authorities should organize the Flag Day so that everyone gets a chance to join the celebration.
“This is a good day for all,” said Nariman Muhammad, a mother out shopping with her children. “But an occasion like this should be organized officially.”