US Report on Religious Freedom Praises Kurdistan Region
Kurdistan Region’s tolerance toward religious minorities is praised by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) report titled Wilting in the Kurdish Sun: The Hopes and Fears of Religious Minorities in Northern Iraq.
“The KRI remains far more welcoming and tolerant to minorities than its regional neighbours” reads the report, which is based on, among other things, interviews with representatives of almost all religious minorities in the Kurdistan Region.“Since the Islamic State [IS] of Iraq and Syria came to power in 2014, it has committed genocide and threatened the very existence of the region’s religious minority communities.
These communities, including Yezidis, Christians, Shabaks, and Turkmen, have now fled to the KRI [Kurdistan Region of Iraq]. We praise the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for sheltering and protecting these oppressed groups and urge it to continue to take steps to ensure that these communities realize their rights and fully participate in society,” remarked USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese.
However, the report has also warned regarding the political and economic crisis combined with poorly enforced protections which could put minorities at high risk.“The KRG must adapt to administering an increasingly diverse population, where previously it represented a more homogenous Sunni-Kurdish majority.” The Kurdistan Region has been home to various religious and ethnic groups throughout history. This diversity was further promoted as it welcomed near two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled their areas due the sectarian-based atrocities. Those IDPs from different ethnic and religious groups found haven in the Kurdistan Region.