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{{Infobox Ethnic group
group = Kurds/Kurdi
image =
caption = Saladin • Ahmad Xani • Sherefxan Bitlisi • Jalal Talabani •  •Bahman Ghobadi •Feleknas Uca
pop = 24 to 30 million
region1 =
region2 =
pop2 = 11.4 to 14 million
ref2 =
region3 =
pop3 = 4.8 to 7 million
ref3 =
region4 =
pop4 = 4 to 6.5 million
ref4 =
region5 =
pop5 = 1.6 million
ref5 =
region6 =
region8 =
pop8 = 200,000
ref8 = The Kurdish Diaspora, Institut Kurde de Paris (Paris: Institut Kurde de Paris, 2006), |region9 = {{spaces|2}}{{flagcountry|Azerbaijan}} |pop9 = 150,000 |ref9 = |region10 = {{spaces|2}}{{flagcountry|Israel}} |pop10 = 100,000 |ref10 = Lokman I. Meho, ''The Kurds and Kurdistan: A General Background'', in Kurdish Culture and Society: An Annotated Bibliography. Comp. Lokman I. Meho & Kelly Maglaughlin (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001), p. 4, [,M1 viewable on Google Books] |region11 = {{spaces|2}}{{flagcountry|Russia}} |pop11 = 100,000 |ref11 = |region12 = {{spaces|2}}{{flagcountry|Armenia}} |pop12 = 45,000 |ref12= |region16 =
|region16 =
|region17 = {{spaces|2}}{{flagcountry|Germany}} |pop17 = 500,000 -800,000 |ref17 = |region18 = {{spaces|2}}{{flagcountry|France}} |pop18 = 50,000 |ref18 =[ Kurds in the UK], BBC News 9 December 2008 |languages =[[Kurdish language|Kurdish]]
{{smaller|''In its different forms: [[Sorani]],[[Zazaki]], [[Kurmanji]] , and [[Fayli]] [[Southern Kurdish|Southern dialects]]''}}, also: [[Arabic language|Arabic]], [[Persian language|Persian]] & [[Turkish language|Turkish]] |religions = Predominantly [[Sunni Muslim]]
also some [[Shia]], [[Yazidism]], [[Yarsan]], [[Judaism]], [[Christianity]] |related = other [[Iranian peoples]]
([[Talysh people|Talysh]]{{•}} [[Baloch people|Baluch]]{{•}} [[Guilak|Gilak]]{{•}} [[Lurs]]{{•}} [[Persian people|Persians]]) }} The '''Kurds''' ({{lang-ku|کورد / Kurd}}) are an [[Iranian peoples|Ethnic-Iranian]] [[ethnolinguistic]] group mostly inhabiting a region known as [[Kurdistan]], which includes adjacent parts of [[Iran]], [[Iraq]], [[Syria]], and [[Turkey]]. Substantial Kurdish communities also exist in the cities of western Turkey, and they can also be found in [[Armenia]], [[Georgia (country)|Georgia]], [[Israel]], [[Azerbaijan]], [[Russia]], [[Lebanon]] and, in recent decades, some European countries and the [[United States]] (see [[Kurdish diaspora]]). Most speak [[Kurdish language|Kurdish]], an [[Indo-European languages|Indo-European]] language of the [[Iranian languages|Iranian]] branch. ==Language== {{Main|Kurdish languages}} "Kurdish" is not a firm and standardized linguistic entity with the status of an official or state language. Kurdish is a continuum of closely related dialects that are spoken in a large geographic area spanning several national states, in some of these states forming one, or several, regional substandards (e.g., Kurmanji in Turkey; Sorani in northern Iraq).[ Encyclopaedia Iranica]: Kurdish languages. accessed: 19 May 2009. Today the term '''Kurdish language''' (Kurdish: ''Kurdî'' or کوردی) is a term used for several Iranian languages spoken by Kurds. It is mainly concentrated in parts of [[Iran]], [[Iraq]], [[Syria]] and [[Turkey]].[ Geographic distribution of Kurdish and other Iranic languages] The [[Kurdish languages]] belong to the north-western sub-group of the [[Iranian languages]], which in turn belongs to the [[Indo-Iranian languages|Indo-Iranian]] branch of the [[Indo-European languages|Indo-European]] family. The older [[Hurrian]] language of the people inhabiting the Kurdish areas was replaced by Indo-European around 850 BCE, with the arrival of the Medes to Western Iran.''The correlation Between Languages and Genes: The Usko-Mediterranean Peoples'', Human Immunology, vol. 62, p.1057, 2001 Most Kurds are [[bilingual]] or [[polylingual]], speaking the languages of the surrounding peoples such as [[Arabic language|Arabic]], [[Turkish language|Turkish]] and [[Persian language|Persian]] as a [[second language]]. [[Kurdish Jews]] and some [[Kurdish Christians]] (not be confused with ethnic Assyrians of Kurdistan) usually speak [[Aramaic language|Aramaic]] (for example: [[Lishana Deni]]) as their first language. Aramaic is a [[Semitic languages|Semitic language]] related to [[Hebrew language|Hebrew]] and [[Arabic language|Arabic]] rather than Kurdish. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, The [[Kurdish language]] has two main groups:[ Kurdish language]. [[Encyclopædia Britannica]]. *The [[Kurmanji]] dialect group. *The [[Sorani]] dialect group. and several sub-dialects: * [[Kermanshahi]]/[[Feyli]] * [[Laki language]] * [[Gorani language]] * [[Zazaki language]] Although specialized sources consider [[Zaza-Gorani]] Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Stefan Sperl, "The Kurds", Published by Routledge, 1992.McKenzie, D. N. (1961) ‘The origins of Kurdish’, in Transactions of the Philological Society: 68 - 86. to be separate languages which share a large number of words with Kurdish , the general term Kurd has, nevertheless, historically been used to designate also these groups. Commenting on the differences between the "dialects" of Kurdish, Kreyenbroek clarifies that in some ways, Kurmanji and Sorani are as different from each other as English and German, giving the example that Kurmanji has grammatical gender and case-endings, but Sorani does not, and observing that referring to Sorani and Kurmanji as "dialects" of one language is supported only by "their common origin...and the fact that this usage reflects the sense of ethnic identity and unity of the Kurds."Kreyenbroek, Philip (1992). "On the Kurdish Language", in ''The Kurds: a contemporary overview'', eds. Philip Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl (p. 69). ==Population== The number of Kurds living in [[Southwest Asia]] is estimated at around 30 million, with another million living in [[Kurdish diaspora|diaspora]]. Kurds are the fourth largest [[ethnicity in the Middle East]] after [[Arabs]], [[Persian people|Persians]] and [[Turkish people|Turks]]. According to the [[CIA World Factbook]], Kurds comprise 18% of the population in [[Turkey]]The CIA Factbook updated sources give Kurds comprise 18% of the population in Turkey., 15-20% in [[Iraq]], perhaps 8% in [[Syria]],The CIA Factbook reports all non-Arabs make up 9.7% of the Syrian population, and does not break out the Kurdish figure separately. Since Syria contains a large Armenian population, 8% may be a reasonable percentage. 7% in [[Iran]] and 1.3% in [[Armenia]]. In all of these countries except Iran, Kurds form the second largest ethnic group. Roughly 55% of the world's Kurds live in Turkey, about 18% each in Iran and Iraq, and a bit over 5% in Syria.[ CIA: The World Factbook] McDowall has estimated that in 1991 the Kurds comprised 19% of the population in [[Turkey]], 23% in [[Iraq]], 10% in [[Iran]], and 8% in [[Syria]]. The total number of Kurds in 1991 was in this estimate placed at 22.5 million, with 48% of this number living in Turkey, 18% in Iraq, 24% in Iran, and 4% in Syria.Amir Hassanpour, "[ A Stateless Nation's Quest for Sovereignty in the Sky]", Paper presented at the Freie Universitat Berlin, 7 November 1995. [[Image:Kurdscostunme.jpg|right|thumb|Kurdish costumes, 1873.]] ===Origins and History=== {{Main|History of the Kurdish people}} [[Image:KurdJewwomenRowendez905.jpg|thumb|left|[[Kurdish Jews]] in [[Rawanduz]], 1905]] "Certainly by the time of the Islamic conquests a thousand years later, and probably for some time before, the term 'Kurd' had a socio-economic rather than ethnic meaning. It was used of nomads on the western edge of the Iranian plateau and probably also of the tribes that acknowledged the Sassanians in Mesopotamia, many of which must have been Semitic in origin."McDowall, David. 2000. A modern history of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris. p9 However the contemporary authors who take this term as an "ethnic group" have suggested the [[Medes]]John Limbert, The Origins and Appearance of the Kurds in Pre-Islamic Iran, Iranian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 1968, [[Cyrtians]]Encyclopedia Iranica, "Carduchi" by M. Dandamayev and [[Carduchi]]Ilya Gershevitch, William Bayne Fisher, ''The Cambridge History of Iran: The Median and Achamenian Periods'', 964 pp., Cambridge University Press, 1985, ISBN 0521200911, 9780521200912, (see footnote of p.257) as possible ancestors of the "Kurds". Most Kurds consider themselve among the descendents of Medes. Among some scholars however there are some disagreements: MacKenzie challenges relation of [[Median language]] to KurdishPhilip G. Kreyenbroek, Stefan Sperl, ''The Kurds'', Routledge, 1992, 250 pp., ISBN 0415072654, ISBN 9780415072656 (see p.70) and Dandamaev consider [[Carduchi]] (who were from the upper Tigris near the Assyrian and Median borders) less likely than [[Cyrtians]] as ancestors of modern Kurds.Encyclopedia Iranica, "Carduchi" by M. Dandamayev Excerpt: "It has repeatedly been argued that the Carduchi were the ancestors of the Kurds, but the Cyrtii (Kurtioi) mentioned by Polybius, Livy, and Strabo (see MacKenzie, pp. 68-69) are more likely candidates." However according to McDowall, the term Cyrtii was first applied to [[Seleucid]] or [[Parthia]]n mercenary slingers from [[Zagros]], and it is not clear if it denoted a coherent linguistic or ethnic groupDavid McDowall, ''A modern history of the Kurds'', 515 pp., I.B.Tauris, 2004, ISBN 1850434166, 9781850434160 (see p.9).The [[Medes]] were an Iranian people who overthrew the [[ancient Assyrians|Assyrians]] in 612 B.C. and were later absorbed in the [[Achaemenid empire]]. The Cyrtians (Greek: Kurtioi, Latin: Cyrtii) is an ancient tribe mentioned to be in [[Medes|Media]], [[Armenia]] and [[Persia]] by Greek geographers such as Strabo. The Carduchi are mentioned by [[Xenophon]] and opposed the retreat of the Ten Thousand through the mountains north of Mesopotamia in the 4th century BC. Gershevitch and Fisher consider the independent [[Carduchi|Kardouchoi]] or Carduchi as the ancestors of the Kurds, or at least the original nucleus of the Iranian-speaking people in what is now Kurdistan. ===Medieval period=== [[Image:Kurdish Cavalry.jpg|thumb|200px|Kurdish Cavalry in the passes of the Caucasus mountains (''[[The New York Times]]'', January 24, 1915).]] In the seventh century, the Arabs possessed the castles and fortifications of the Kurds. The conquest of the cities of [[Sharazor]] and ''Aradbaz'' took place in 643 CE. In 846 CE, one of the leaders of the Kurds in Mosul revolted against the Caliph Al Mo'tasam who sent the commander Aitakh to combat against him. Aitakh won this war and killed many of the Kurds. The Kurds revolted again in 903 CE, during the period of Almoqtadar. Eventually Arabs conquered the Kurdish regions and gradually converted the majority of Kurds to Islam. In the second half of the tenth century, the Kurdish area was shared among four big Kurdish principalities. In the north were the [[Shaddadid]] (951–1174) in parts of present-day [[Armenia]] and [[Arran (Caucasus)|Arran]], and the [[Rawadid]] (955–1221) in [[Tabriz]] and [[Maragheh]]. In the east were the [[Hasanwayhid]]s (959–1015) and the [[Annazid]] (990–1117) in [[Kermanshah]], [[Dinawar]] and [[Khanaqin]]. In the west were the [[Marwanid]] (990–1096) of [[Diyarbakır]]. After these, the [[Ayyubid]] (1171–1250) of [[Syria]] and the [[Ardalan]] dynasty (14th century to 1867) were established in present-day [[Khanaqin]], [[Kirkuk]] and [[Sinne]]. ==Kurdish Communities in West Asia== {{See|Kurdistan}} ===In Iraq=== {{Main|Iraqi Kurdistan|1988 Anfal campaign}} Kurds make around 17% of Iraq's population. They are the majority in at least three provinces in northern Iraq which are together known as [[Iraqi Kurdistan]]. Kurds also have a presence in [[Kirkuk]], [[Mosul]], [[Khanaqin]], and [[Baghdad]]. Around 300,000 Kurds live in the Iraqi capital [[Baghdad]], 50,000 in the city of [[Mosul]] and around 100,000 elsewhere in southern Iraq.[ By Location] [[Image:Children puppy sulaimania.jpg|thumb|200px|Kurdish Children in [[Sulaimaniyah]]]] Kurds led by [[Mustafa Barzani]] were engaged in heavy fighting against successive Iraqi regimes from 1960 to 1975. In March 1970, Iraq announced a peace plan providing for Kurdish autonomy. The plan was to be implemented in four years.G.S. Harris, ''Ethnic Conflict and the Kurds'' in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, pp.118-120, 1977 However, at the same time, the Iraqi regime started an Arabization program in the oil-rich regions of [[Kirkuk]] and [[Khanaqin]].[ Introduction]. Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds (Human Rights Watch Report, 1993). The peace agreement did not last long, and in 1974, the Iraqi government began a new offensive against the Kurds. Moreover in March 1975, Iraq and Iran signed the [[Algiers Accord]], according to which Iran cut supplies to Iraqi Kurds. Iraq started another wave of Arabization by moving Arabs to the oil fields in Kurdistan, particularly those around Kirkuk.ibid., p.121 Between 1975 and 1978, 200,000 Kurds were deported to other parts of Iraq.M. Farouk-Sluglett, P. Sluglett, J. Stork, ''Not Quite Armageddon: Impact of the War on Iraq'', MERIP Reports, July-September 1984, p.24 During the [[Iran-Iraq War]] in the 1980s, the regime implemented anti-Kurdish policies and a ''de facto'' civil war broke out. Iraq was widely condemned by the international community, but was never seriously punished for oppressive measures such as the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the wholesale destruction of thousands of villages and the deportation of thousands of Kurds to southern and central Iraq. The campaign of Iraqi government against Kurds in 1988 was called ''Anfal'' ("Spoils of War"). The Anfal attacks led to destruction of two thousand villages and death of 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds.[ Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds] [[Image:Jalal Talabani Rumsfeld Rice Khalilzad.jpg|thumb|200px|The President of Iraq, [[Jalal Talabani]], meeting with U.S. officials in [[Baghdad]], Iraq, on April 26, 2006.]] After the Kurdish uprising in 1991 ({{lang-ku|Raperîn}}) led by the [[Patriotic Union of Kurdistan|PUK]] and [[Kurdistan Democratic Party|KDP]], Iraqi troops recaptured the Kurdish areas and hundreds of thousand of Kurds fled to the Turkish border. A delegation lead by [[Dlawer Ala'Aldeen]] persuaded the British Government to intervene and alleviate the situation.[ Thatcher urges 'mercy mission' to fleeing Kurds; The Guardain 4/4/1991] A "safe haven" was established by the [[UN Security Council]]. The autonomous Kurdish area was mainly controlled by the rival parties KDP and PUK. The Kurdish population welcomed the American troops in 2003 by holding celebrations and dancing in the streets.[,2933,83642,00.html - Kurds Rejoice, But Fighting Continues in North - U.S. & World ][ - Coalition makes key advances in northern Iraq - April 10, 2003][ The Scotsman] The area controlled by [[peshmerga]] was expanded, and Kurds now have effective control in [[Kirkuk]] and parts of [[Mosul]]. By the beginning of 2006, the two Kurdish areas were merged into one unified region. A series of referendums are scheduled to be held in {{as of|2007|alt=2007}}, to determine the final borders of the Kurdish region. ===In Turkey=== {{Main|Kurds in Turkey|Turkish Kurdistan|Human rights in Turkey|Kurdistan Workers Party}} According to [[CIA Factbook]], Kurds formed approximately 18% of the population in Turkey (approximately 14 million) in 2008.[ Turkey], [[The World Factbook]], [[CIA]], 2008. In [[1980]], [[ethnologue]] estimated the number of [[Kurdish language|Kurdish]]-speakers in Turkey at around five million,[ Ethnologue census of languages in Asian portion of Turkey] when the country's population stood at 44 million. Kurds form the largest minority group in Turkey, and they have posed the most serious and persistent challenge to the official image of a homogeneous society. During the 1930s and 1940s, the government had disguised the presence of the Kurds statistically by categorizing them as ''Mountain Turks''. This classification was changed to the new [[euphemism]] of ''Eastern Turk'' in 1980.[ Linguistic and Ethnic Groups in Turkey] Several large scale Kurdish revolts in [[1925]], [[1930]] and [[1938]] were suppressed by the Turkish government and more than one million Kurds were forcibly relocated between 1925 and 1938. The use of Kurdish language, dress, [[folklore]], and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under [[martial law]] until [[1946]].H. Hannum, ''Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-determination'', 534 pp., University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996, ISBN 0812215729, 9780812215724 (see page 186). The [[Ararat revolt]], which reached its apex in 1930, was only suppressed after a massive military campaign including destruction of many villages and their populations. In quelling the revolt, Turkey was assisted by the close cooperation of its neighboring states such as [[Soviet Union]] and [[Iran]].{{Citation needed|date=September 2009}} The revolt was organized by a Kurdish party called ''Khoybun'' which signed a treaty with the [[Dashnak]]sutyun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) in [[1927]].Reşat Kasaba, ''The Cambridge History of Turkey'', 600 pp., Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 0521620961, 9780521620963 (see page 340) By 1970s, Kurdish leftist organizations such as ''Kurdistan Socialist Part-Turkey'' (KSP-T) emerged in Turkey which were against violence and supported civil activities and participation in elections. In [[1977]], ''Mehdi Zana'' a supporter of KSP-T won the mayoralty of [[Diyarbakir]] in the local elections. At about the same time, generational fissures gave birth to two new organizations: the ''National Liberation of Kurdistan'' and the ''Kurdistan Workers Party''.Reşat Kasaba, ''The Cambridge History of Turkey'', 600 pp., Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 0521620961, 9780521620963 (see page 348) [[Image:Kurdish Boys Diyarbakir.jpg|thumb|left|225px|Kurdish boys, [[Diyarbakir]].]] The Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan ([[PKK]]), also known as ''KADEK'' and ''Kongra-Gel'', is considered by the US, the EU, and [[NATO]] to be a terrorist organization.''[ COUNCIL COMMON POSITION 2008/586/CFSP of 15 July 2008: updating Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism and repealing Common Position 2007/871/CFSP]'' It is an [[Ethnic nationalism|ethnic]] [[secession]]ist organization using violence for the purpose of achieving its goal of creating an independent Kurdish state in parts of southeastern [[Turkey]], northeastern [[Iraq]], northeastern [[Syria]] and northwestern [[Iran]]. Between 1984 and 1999, the PKK and the Turkish military engaged in open war, and much of the countryside in the southeast was depopulated, as Kurdish civilians moved to local defensible centers such as [[Diyarbakır]], [[Van, Turkey|Van]], and [[Şırnak]], as well as to the cities of western Turkey and even to western Europe. The causes of the depopulation included PKK atrocities against Kurdish clans they could not control, the poverty of the southeast, and the Turkish state's military operations.Radu, Michael. (2001). "The Rise and Fall of the PKK", ''Orbis.'' 45(1):47-64. Officially protected death squads are accused of disappearance of 3,200 Kurds in [[1993]] and [[1994]] in the so called ''mystery killings''. Kurdish politicians, human-rights activists, journalists, teachers and other members of intelligentsia were among the victims. Virtually none of the perpetrators were investigated nor punished. Turkish government also encouraged an Islamic extremist group called [[Turkish Hezbollah|Hezbollah]] to assassinate suspected PKK members and often ordinary Kurds.J. C. Randal, ''After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness?'', 356 pp., Westview Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8133-3580--9, p.258 ''Azimet Köylüoğlu'', the state minister of human rights, revealed the extent of security forces' excesses in autumn [[1994]]:J. C. Randal, ''After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness?'', 356 pp., Westview Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8133-3580-9, p.259 ===In Iran=== [[Image:Snah.JPG|thumb|200px|a view of [[Sanandaj]], a major city in Iranian Kurdistan.]] {{Main|Iranian Kurdistan|History of the Kurds}} The Kurdish part of [[Iran]] has been a part of this country from historical times. The Kurds constitute today approximately 7% of Iran's overall population. The [[Persian people|Persian]]s, Kurds, and speakers of other [[Indo-European]] languages in Iran are descendants of the [[Aryan]] tribes that began migrating from Central Asia into what is now Iran in the 2nd millennium BCE.[ Iran: Ethnic Groups], [[Encyclopaedia Britannica]]. According to some sources, "some Kurds in Iran have resisted the Iranian government's efforts, both before and after the revolution of 1979, to [[Cultural assimilation|assimilate]] them into the mainstream of national life and, along with their fellow Kurds in adjacent regions of [[Iraq]] and [[Turkey]], has sought either regional [[autonomy]] or the outright establishment of an [[Independence|independent]] Kurdish state". While other sources state that "most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds' language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public." .[ Meet the Kurdish guerrillas who want to topple the Tehran regime. - By Graeme Wood - Slate Magazine] In the 17th century, a large number of Kurds were settled by [[Shah Abbas I]] to [[Khorasan (Province)|Khorasan]] in Eastern Iran and resettled in the cities of [[North Khorasan Province|Northern Khorasan]] province ([[Quchan]], [[Bojnurd]], Shirvan, DareGaz, and Esfaraeen) to defend Iran's frontier against [[Uzbeks]]. Others migrated to [[Afghanistan]] where they took refuge.A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan By Gérard Chaliand, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, Marco Pallis, pg. 205 The Kurds of Khorasan, numbering around 700,000, still use the [[Kurmanji]] Kurdish dialect.''[ The cultural situation of the Kurds],'' A report by Lord Russell-Johnston, Council of Europe, July 2006.[ Fifteenth periodic report of States parties due in 1998: Islamic Republic of Iran] During the 19th and 20th centuries, successive Iranian governments crushed Kurdish revolts led by Kurdish notables such as Shaikh Ubaidullah (against [[Qajars]] in 1880) and [[Simko Shikak|Simko]] (against [[Pahlavi dynasty|Pahlavi]]s in the 1920s).[ Are Kurds a pariah minority?] In January 1946, during the Soviet occupation of north-western Iran, the Soviet-backed Kurdish [[Republic of Mahabad]] declared independence in parts of Iranian Kurdistan. Nevertheless, the Soviet forces left Iran in May 1946, and the self-declared republic fell to the Iranian army after only a few months and the president of the republic [[Qazi Muhammad]] was hanged publicly in [[Mahabad]]. After the [[1953 Iranian coup d'état]], [[Mohammad Reza Pahlavi]] became more autocratic and suppressed most opposition including Kurdish political groups seeking greater rights for Iranian Kurds. He also prohibited any teaching of the Kurdish language. After the Iranian revolution, intense fighting occurred between militant Kurdish groups and the Islamic Republic between 1979 and 1982. In August 1979, [[Ruhollah Khomeini]] declared a "[[jihad|holy war]]" against the Kurdish rebels seeking autonomy or independence, and ordered the Armed Forces to move to the Kurdish areas of Iran in order to push the Kurdish rebels out and restore central rule to the country.The Security of Southwest Asia by Zalmay Khalilza, page 191, University of Michigan Publishing An image of a firing squad of Revolutionary Guards executing Kurdish prisoners around [[Sanandaj]] gained international fame and won the [[Pulitzer Prize]] in 1980,and there is also other images available of Kurdish militants capturing the supporters of the Iranian regime.[ A photo] by [[Abbas (photographer)|Abbas Attar]],[[Magnum Photos]] The [[Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps]] fought to reestablish government control in the Kurdish regions. Since 1983, the Iranian government has maintained control over the Iranian Kurdistan.[] Frequent unrest and the occasional military crackdown have occurred since the 1990s.[ Iran: Amnesty International calls for an urgent investigation into the killing of demonstrators]. In Iran, Kurds express their cultural identity freely, but have no self-government or administration. As in all parts of Iran, membership of a non-governmental political party is punishable by imprisonment or even death. Kurdish [[human rights]] activists in Iran have been threatened by Iranian authorities.[ Iran: Threats against Kurdish human rights defenders must stop][ Status of minorities] Following the killing of Kurdish opposition activist [[Shivan Qaderi]] and two other Kurdish men by Iranian security forces in [[Mahabad]] on July 9, 2005, six weeks of riots and protests erupted in Kurdish towns and villages throughout eastern Kurdistan. Scores were killed and injured, and an untold number arrested without charge. The Iranian authorities have also shut down several major Kurdish newspapers and arrested editors and reporters. Among those was [[Roya Toloui]], a [[Women's rights]] activist and head of the ''Rasan'' ("Rising") newspaper in [[Sanandaj]], who was alleged to be tortured for two months for involvement in the organization of peaceful protests throughout Kurdistan province.[ Amnesty International] According to an Iran analyst at [[International Crisis Group]], "Kurds, who live in the some of the least developed parts of Iran, pose the most serious internal problem for Iran to resolve, and given what they see next door--the newfound confidence of Iraqi Kurds--there's concern Iranian Kurds will agitate for greater autonomy."[ Iran's Waning Human Rights] (''[[The New York Times]]'') ===In Syria=== {{Main|Kurds in Syria}} [[Image:Saladinstatue.JPG|thumb|left|150px|A [[statue of Saladin]] at the [[Damascus]] citadel.]] Kurds account for 9% of [[Syria]]'s population, a total of around 1.6 million people.[ World Gazetteer] This makes them the largest ethnic minority in the country. They are mostly concentrated in the northeast and the north, but there are also significant Kurdish populations in Aleppo and Damascus. Kurds often speak Kurdish in public, unless all those present do not. Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated and persecuted.[ Syria: End persecution of human rights defenders and human rights activists]. No political parties are allowed for any group, Kurdish or otherwise. Techniques used to suppress the ethnic identity of Kurds in [[Syria]] include various bans on the use of the [[Kurdish language]], refusal to register children with Kurdish names, the replacement of Kurdish place names with new names in [[Arabic]], the prohibition of businesses that do not have Arabic names, the prohibition of Kurdish private schools, and the prohibition of books and other materials written in Kurdish.[ Syria: The Silenced Kurds][ Essential Background: Overview of human rights issues in Syria]. Human Rights Watch, 31-12-2004. Having been denied the right to Syrian nationality, around three-hundred thousand Kurds have been deprived of any social rights, in violation of international law.[ Syria's Kurds Struggle for Rights][ The Media Line] As a consequence, these Kurds are in effect trapped within Syria. In February 2006, however, sources reported that Syria was now planning to grant these Kurds citizenship. On March 12, 2004, beginning at a stadium in [[Qamishli]] (a largely Kurdish city in northeastern Syria), clashes between Kurds and Syrians broke out and continued over a number of days. At least thirty people were killed and more than 160 injured. The unrest spread to other Kurdish towns along the northern border with Turkey, and then to [[Damascus]] and [[Aleppo]].[ Syria: Address Grievances Underlying Kurdish Unrest][ Serhildana 12ê Adarê ya Kurdistana Suriyê]. ===In Afghanistan=== Kurds had been living in regions bordering modern day Afghanistan since the 1500s notably in [[Khorasan (Province)|north eastern Iran]] where the [[Safavid]] ruler [[Shah Abbas]] exiled thousands of Kurds.Knowledge, Culture, and Power: International Perspectives on Literacy as Policy and Practice By Peter Freebody, Anthony R. Welch, pg.40 Many of those who were exiled ultimately made their way into [[Afghanistan]], taking residence in [[Herat]] and other cities of western Afghanistan. The Kurdish colony in Afghanistan numbered some tens of thousands during the 16th century. Some [[Kurds]] held high governmental positions within Afghanistan, such as [[Ali Mardan Khan]] who was appointed the governor of [[Kabul]] in 1641.The Encyclopaedia of Islam: Supplement : Fascicules 1-2, By Clifford Edmund Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, B. Lewis, pg. 63 The Kurds devotedly sided with the Afghans during their conflicts with the [[Safavid Empire]], and in their subsequent conflicts with other regional powers.The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant, By Michael Axworthy, pg. 88 The number of Kurds currently in Afghanistan is difficult to calculate, though one figure notes that there are approximately 200,000.''[ The Kurdish Diaspora],'' Institut Kurde de Paris (Paris: Institut Kurde de Paris, 2006), The extent to which the Kurds in Afghanistan have retained the Kurdish language remains unclear.

In Armenia

At the behest of the Turks, the Kurds actively participated in the massacre of tens of thousands of Armenians during the Armenian genocide. Between the 1930s and 1980s, Armeniamarker was a part of the Soviet Unionmarker, within which Kurds, like other ethnic groups, had the status of a protected minority. Armenian Kurds were permitted their own state-sponsored newspaper, radio broadcasts and cultural events. During the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, many non-Yazidi Kurds were forced to leave their homes. Following the end of the Soviet Unionmarker, Kurds in Armenia were stripped of their cultural privileges and most fled to Russiamarker or Western Europe.

In Azerbaijan

In 1920, two Kurdish-inhabited areas of Jewanshir (capital Kalbajarmarker) and eastern Zangazur (capital Lachinmarker) were combined to form the Kurdistan Okrug (or "Red Kurdistan"). The period of existence of the Kurdish administrative unit was brief and did not last beyond 1929. Kurds subsequently faced many repressive measures, including deportations. As a result of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, many Kurdish areas have been destroyed and more than 150,000 Kurds have been deported since 1988.


According to a report by the Council of Europe, approximately 1.3 million Kurds live in Western Europe. The earliest immigrants were Kurds from Turkey, who settled in Germanymarker, Austriamarker, the Benelux countries, Great Britainmarker, Switzerlandmarker and Francemarker during the 1960s. Successive periods of political and social turmoil in the Middle East during 1980s and 1990s brought new waves of Kurdish refugees, mostly from Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, came to Europe. In recent years, many Kurdish asylum seekers from both Iran and Iraq have settled in the United Kingdom (especially in the town of Dewsburymarker and in some northern areas of Londonmarker), which has sometimes caused media controversy over their right to remain. There have been tensions between Kurds and the established Muslim community in Dewsbury, which is home to very traditional mosques such as the Markazimarker.

There was substantial immigration of Kurds into North America, who are mainly political refugees and immigrants seeking economic opportunity. An estimated 100,000 Kurds are known to live in the United Statesmarker, with 50,000 in Canadamarker and less than 15,000 in Australia.



Today, the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, belonging to the Shafi school. Mystical practices and participation in Sufi orders are also widespread among Kurds. There is also a minority of Kurds who are Shia Muslims, primarily living in the Ilammarker and Kermanshahmarker provinces of Iranmarker, Central and south eastern Iraq (Fayli Kurds).


The Alevis are another religious minority among the Kurds. They are mainly living in Tuncelimarker, Erzincanmarker, eastern Sivasmarker, northern and southern Malatyamarker, eastern and northwestern Kahramanmaraşmarker, northern Adanamarker, western Kayserimarker, central and western Adıyamanmarker, northeastern Gaziantepmarker, northern Elazığmarker, southwestern Erzurummarker, northern Bingölmarker, northwestern Muşmarker and various other areas in Anatoliamarker.


Yazdanism is a controversial and yet unproven theory that refers to a group of native monotheistic religions practiced among the Kurds: Yarsan and Yazidism. There are no historical evidence that proves the existence of this theory. But the only scholar mentioning this faith, Mehrdad Izady, claims that the main element in Yazdani faiths is the belief in seven angelic entities that protect the world, therefore these traditions are named as Cult of Angels. Some groups classify the various Kurdish faiths under the Yazdani umbrella.

The original religion of the Kurds was Yazidism, a religion greatly influenced by Jewish, Zoroastrian, Christian and Islamic beliefs. However, there are significant differences between Yazidism and Zoroastrianism, such as the belief in re-incarnation. Most Yazidis live in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the vicinity of Mosulmarker and Sinjarmarker. The Yarsan (or Ahl-e Haqq) religion is practised in western Iran, primarily around Kermanshahmarker.

Judaism and Christianity

Christianity and Judaism both are still practised in very small numbers. Rabbi Asenath Barzani, who lived in Mosulmarker from 1590 to 1670, was among the very first Jewish women to become a rabbi. The overwhelming majority of the Kurdish Jews had immigrated to the Jewish State, Israel, during the early 1950s. For centuries, the Jews had lived as protected subjects of the tribal chieftains (aghas) and survived in the urban centers and villages in which they lived. In return for the protection granted by their aghas, the Jews would occasionally give them gifts, services and commissions of their commercial and agricultural transactions.


Kurdish culture is a legacy from the various ancient peoples who shaped modern Kurds and their society, but primarily of three layers of indigenous (Hurrian), ancient Iranian, and Islamic roots.

Kurdish culture is close to that of other Iranian peoples. Kurds, for instance, also celebrate Newroz (March 21) as New Year's Day.

Kurdish films mainly evoke poverty and the lack of rights of Kurdish people in the region. Yılmaz Güney (Yol ) and Bahman Qubadi (A Time for Drunken Horses, Turtles Can Fly) are among the better-known Kurdish directors.


Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish Classical performers: storytellers (çîrokbêj), minstrels (stranbêj), and bards (dengbêj). No specific music was associated with the Kurdish princely courts. Instead, music performed in night gatherings (şevbihêrk) is considered classical. Several musical forms are found in this genre. Many songs are epic in nature, such as the popular Lawiks, heroic ballads recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes such as Saladin. Heyrans are love ballads usually expressing the melancholy of separation and unfulfilled love, while Lawje is a form of religious music and Payizoks are songs performed during the autumn. Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs (dîlok/narînk), erotic poetry, and work songs are also popular.

See also

Modern Kurdish governments

Notes and references


  • Barth, F. 1953. Principles of Social Organization in Southern Kurdistan. Bulletin of the University Ethnographic Museum 7. Oslo.
  • Hansen, H.H. 1961. The Kurdish Woman's Life. Copenhagen. Ethnographic Museum Record 7:1-213.
  • Leach, E.R. 1938. Social and Economic Organization of the Rowanduz Kurds. London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology 3:1-74.
  • Longrigg, S.H. 1953. Iraq, 1900-1950. London.
  • Masters, W.M. 1953. Rowanduz. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.

External links

The Kurdish Issue in Turkey

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