Abdul-Qahar Mustafa | Exclusive to Ekurd.net
Iraq including Kurdistan is in shambles.
Unfortunately I have to report that there is no margin of good life standards in this country at all except for few groups of rich multi billionaires who control everything.
Every part of it is controlled by certain people and is basically a territory of a political party or certain set of parties.
Within any given territory, you are not allowed to criticize the figures of that party or anything else.
You as individual are only allowed to accept the situation as it is and never complain or try to diagnose what is really going wrong unless the heads of your sect or party decided to protest, then you should be one of the herd and side with them.
You would not want to accuse a certain leader of being corrupt and your ideas should always align with the general goals and aspiration of the party is in charge in any certain area.
Religious freedom does not exist meaningfully.
You can convert to Islam but you cannot publicly criticize or convert from Islam.
It is not a common thing for someone to convert after all, and that is because each and every person in society believes that at any cost.
You should not criticize or leave the religion or sect of your ancestors.
When you meet someone, it is common to be asked about your religion and after they know my religion, they say “we all are brothers; we are not sectarians like the other sect”.
I tell them if you are not being sectarian, then stop asking about my religion.
In fact secular political parties sometimes give away concession and support to the Islamic parties on the bases of extending religious laws and practices more openly in the public just so the Islamic parties make coalitions with them in forming the government.
In some cases a secular party even unites with Islamic parties in the parliament to help the secular party defeat its other secular opponents political parties when voting for or against a specific legislation that would result to the loss or benefits of that specific secular political party.
Rule of law is weak.
Most of security forces, police, military, and secret services are not academic.
They serve in government agencies without having a college degree and necessary training courses certificates.
Public services are poor and unemployment rate is high and many people get jobs on the bases of political affiliation recommendation letters and connections of government officials.
While more people get jobs on the bases of martyrdom and Peshmarga service records of their families.
Fuel for home heating such as kerosene is expensive and most people can’t afford to buy it.
Many people go to mountains and cut trees for home heating for winter which results to destruction of ecosystem and environment of Kurdistan.
Government does not do reforms fundamentally.
It only does reforms superficially by arresting few corrupt individuals here and there so that to show a good image and pacify the outcries of population against corruption.
People vote for candidates of the parliament but no candidates or parliamentarian have an office yet so that people have an easy access to their MPs when they have complains about their lives and difficult situations of their constituencies.
Education system is weak.
Every year the ministry or head offices of educations change their polices and rules.
Students have problems scoring good marks to get admission to top government colleges and departments.
Most of the students score low marks that would not get them admission to a good and free government college which in reality all government colleges lack modern lab devices and tools for experiments and scientific researches.
Many students would have to go and study in a private college which most of these paying colleges and universities owned by the same government officials.
In fact, many children here are raised in the streets, left alone to figure the world on their own, and when they go to school, they are there just so that the system keeps running, the teacher keeps getting delayed salary, and the ministry of education keeps operating.
But as for value of education, we are not even in the chart of the quality of education in the world.
People around the world have no idea how miserable the situation is here when it comes to freedom.
I live in Kurdistan which is depicted in the mainstream media as an example of freedom, can I go ahead as an individual and bash the president or prime minister of Kurdistan region? Few people, who were journalists, did that few years ago, then they were kidnapped and found dead weeks later, nobody has done that since.
Can I complain about how loud the sound of mosque’s prayer is my neighborhood or my city? I did that once after creating a fake Facebook profile out of frustration, and I received many death threats, they simply asked me if I am a man to come and meet one of them face to face.
Can I say I am an atheist? Because you know, I have to keep my head over my shoulders.
In fact, I should always exaggerate in mentioning God when I speak to people, that is how I survive by putting a mask and act to look like I am a normal guy.
People who do not believe in God are rare spices here.
Can I say I don’t like something that most people like such as how dating among young girls and boys is forbidden? No I cannot, because this is against traditions and religion.
As a matter of fact, you cannot live single, and your goal should always be to get married and have children, and that is of course if you are lucky to have a job and after you find work that pays enough money to handle a life marriage.
In addition to that, can I host a female at my house or can a female host me? No, because this is not applicable in Islam or Christianity or any of the religions here to host someone of the opposite sex without being your spouse and nobody else in the house.
Can people date freely and publicly? Many people cannot, because you should only date and go in public after engagement, at all circumstances, a girl and a boy cannot go out together, even to sit on a public place and chat; this is out of the norm.
Religious leaders are trying everything to make sure that the women’s rights do not exceed the recommendations of the Quran.
Actually Iraqi Government has worsened the women’s rights and if you travel ever to Iraq look carefully how the women dress in cities.
Women in some Iraqi cities are free while in some cities living in total darkness.
You will notice big differences in dressing, working and rights.
However,the Kurdish women position in big cities is much better than before, but we are talking about Iraqi Kurdistan in general here, the promised land of Islamist Kurds.
There is still much to improve.
Iraqi Kurds are usually the most religious Kurds so don’t expect anything to change very soon like western societies.
As for animals’ rights, Well, Animals are not respected here, and again that is because lack of education, religion and poverty does not allow time to people to love and care about anything in life, and this is what happen when you should pray 5 times a day and living without a job.
People here do not teach children to love animals and be kind to them and as a result, animals are beaten in the streets (cats and dogs) by children on a daily basis, children basically throw rocks at them.
It is a long way before the standards of living of Kurdistan people reach to the same level of the life standards of Europeans.
It is possible to reach to that point but that is if both people and government of Kurdistan is willing to follow that path and make a significant change.
Europeans have gone through the same experiences as Kurds do now, before they have reached to the glory and the excellent position of living they hold now in the world.
Abdul-Qahar Mustafa is a graduate student from Saint Louis high school in Canada.
He is advocate of justice, democracy and human rights.
He currently lives in Sarsang/Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. Mustafa is a senior contributing writer for Ekurd.
The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of Ekurd.net or its editors.
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