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Photo Samples, Iraqi Kurdistan

 

The Kurds are the most populous group of people never to have their own country. Spread across six countries (Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Armenia), history has been quite cruel to them, and they never established themselves as a country. They were close after the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1918, but it just never happened, and to most Westerners, the Kurds are just synonymous with PKK and lots of trouble. At lest until the rise of "Islamic State" in the beginning of June 2014. Suddenly, The Kurds appeared as the only reliable ones in th eregion and the only ones really putting up a fight against the crazy Sunni Islamists - despite the fact tha loads of Kurds are actually Sunni as well. Just very moderate.

I happened to be in Kurdistan until 27th of May 2014 - just 13 days before the IS invasion of Mosul and Tikrit, and what a shame. Kurdistan is, to me, one of the friendiest and least dogmatic peoples you'lll ever imagine, but I doubt very much if they'll ever regain the peace "as it was". So, all the photos below are "just before the war" - a great evidence of a great people. Fortunately, in the time of writing (Oct. 2016), IS is on the run in most of the region, and Mosul will soon be free again. At least I hope, but time will show.

As usual, all photos are, of course © Claus Qvist Jessen, and none of them are to be used without my permission.

The central part of Erbil: The Citadel, where people have been living continuously for about 8000 years. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Mosaic depicting ancient scenes. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A true sign og Kurdish tolerance: Carpets with Jesus and Imam Ali for sale in the same shop. No fundamentalism here! Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fixing the clothes. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Goat vendor. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Enjoying the Friday off in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Great guy selling joke stuff. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Money changer on the street. No risk of theft here. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Women dancing during a Kurdish wedding. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

If Elvish was Kurdish.... Wedding guest of Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ainkawa is a mostly Chrstian suburb of Erbil, however, they have maintained the same culture, such as smoking the shisha. Here, the witer is replacing the charcoal. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Hamilton Road from Erbil to the Iranian border is one of the most beautiful stretches of any Middle East road. One of the first towns from Erbil is Soran, and the market here is just great. This guy obviously loves selling scull caps. I bought one :-) Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Pouring the yoghurth. Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

This venerable welder just looks very much like Bono from U2! Very friendly guy, by the way. Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Enjoying life at a Soran Café. Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Happy boy with a bunch of local fruits.Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The view across the valley from Rawanduz back towards Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The great gorge in Rawanduz, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The 19th of May, 1987, the people of made an uprising against Saddam Hussein. Of course, they were bloodily beaten, but the day is still rememered, here in 2014 by an exhibition of paintings of the occasion. Rawanduz, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Rural field, Rawanduz, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cheeky girls of Rawanduz, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The most important corner of a tea house in Rawanduz, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The eastern corner of Choman, a very beautiful town along the Hamilton Road; Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local transport of Choman, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The local car repair shop of Choman, Iraqi Kurdistan. The owner, Rasoul is the guy to the right - indeed a very friendly fellow. © Claus Qvist Jessen

If Che Guevara was a 10-year-old girl..... Very determined, indeed. Choman, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Kurdish hospitality with Rasoul and his wife, Skhleer in the middle. Choman, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The geographic and spiritual centre of Suleimaniyah: The Great Mosque. Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Great Mosque by night. Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The leader of the mosque, Sheikh Salar al-Hafeed (left), grandson of the first king of Kurdistan, Sheikh Mahmoud Barzini. Sheikh Salar is advocate by education, but devotes a lot of his time for the benefit of the mosque. Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Pilgrim inside the burial chamber of the late Sheikh Mahmoud Barzini. Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Elderly gentleman outside the Great Mosque; Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Frut vendor; Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Nightly tea stall; Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Enjoying good friends, a game and a shisha. Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Life is not bad in the evening in Suleimaniyah :-). Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

One of Saddam Hussein's tanks, used to surpres the Kurds during the 80'ies and 90'ies. Suleimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Lake Dukan, 50+ kms north of Suleimaniyah; Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

On the 16th of March 1988, Saddam Hussein lauched his most infamous poison gas attack of the Kurds. In the small town of Halabja, more than 5,000 people died and 7,000 were wounded on that day. This is the memorial of the sad day. Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Inside the memorial, the names of each and every one who died at that day are written in marble. Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Less elegant memorial of the 16th of March 1988. Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A bronze replica of the most famous photo of the genocide: A grandfather trying to protect his grandson. Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Today, Halabja is still trying to recover, evidently at a slower pace than the rest of the country. Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Electronics repairman; Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Take a break! Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

As everywhere in kurdistan, tea is the most important "drug", served everywhere and enjoyed slowly. Not to be missed. Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local man of Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. © Claus Qvist Jessen

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