Kurdish Agree Arabs Can Own Real Estate, Sparking Controversy
Last week, the governor of Sulaymaniyah ruled that Arabs could own houses and land in the area. The new rule sparked controversy, protests and accusations of racism.
The 58-year-old Iraqi had visited the city of Sulaymaniyah, in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, many times before. The Baghdad local, who wished to be known only as Abu Salwan, really liked the city. In the past he has always returned to the Iraqi capital – but when he arrived here five years ago, he made a momentous decision: This time he wasn’t going back.
Like many others, Abu Salwan says that when he began to fear daily for the lives of his family and his own life in the Iraqi capital, Sulaymaniyah was the first place that came to mind, a place where he hoped he would find peace and a better life.
“I don’t believe there is a difference between the Kurds and the Arabs here,” Abu Salwan addresses the idea that there might be racism in the northern region, which has its own borders and laws and which has largely been protected from the security crisis caused by the extremist group, the Islamic State. “I came here some time ago when security deteriorated in Baghdad and I settled here in Sulaymaniyah because the people here are kind hearted.”
This may be a slightly optimistic view. Even a quick look at local social media shows a slew of racist comments and anti-Arab arguments from Iraqi Kurdish users. One of the topics many of these anti-immigration individuals are talking about is a decision made by the governor of Sulaymaniyah, Aso Faraidoon Amin, less than a week ago.