Monday, April 30, 2007

Killing of a Yezidi Girl by own Mob

There is not a day that fills our mind with some happy news or events. Even if there is a piece of happy news, it is flashed away with gruesome happenings that override and destroy jolly ones. Previously I wrote that the month of April was the bride of the months. I heard the story from a Kurdish Ezidi/Yezidi friend that I had met in Marburg, Germany when I was a student at the university there. I would frequently visit them because they were refugees in Germany and need language help. I helped them a lot concerning the German language. I learned a little bit about their culture. Since they knew my background was Alawite, they trusted me. Because both my Alawite culture and their Yezidi culture were minority cultures in Kurdistan, there was a tacit bond between us. This did/does not mean that I did not have Muslim or Christian friends. From the view point of my Yezidi friends I was closer to them because of the persecution of culture in Turkey. I learned about their culture. For example, in their culture “Satan” is a bad creature or a demon. Cursing Satan was regarded something appropriate. Satan is still an angle for them. They would not marry an outsider who is from their Yezidi belief. They would kill a Yezidi girl who marries a Muslim Kurd etc. They are very strict in preserving this tradition. So they would marry among themselves. Kurdish love songs are full of such tragedies. The young girl who is a Yezidi may not marry her lover who is a Muslim Kurd. The songs contain sad lyrics about the tragic loves just because the beliefs are different.

A few days ago, Kurdish Web sites were discussing a Kurdish girl killed by a mob in Iraqi Kurdistan. The girl was of Yezidi fell in love with a Muslim Kurd and ran away with him. The Yezidi relatives found her and killed her in mob styles. Yezidis, I believe, would not accept converts; you are either born as a Yezidi or not. I bet many young people have loved each other from Yezidi and other religions but could not marry because there is not escape out of it. I wonder how it is now among the Yezidis in Germany where most of the Yezidis from Kurdistan (Turkey) live now. I would like to see the impact of the German society on the Yezidis in Germany whether or not they have relaxed their traditions in that regard. The tragedy happened a few days ago spilled cold water on heart on the tightly knit societies and belief systems that allow revenge as a mode of solution no matter what the ethnic background is—Kurd, Turks, Arab, or Persian.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why Kurdish Alawite do not eat rabbits?

As I have written earlier I was brought up in Kurdish Alawite tradition. Alawite belief system is one of the beliefs in Kurdistan or Turkey that is not known to the Islamic community in Turkey. Thus people do not know about the Alawite beliefs at all. It is only recently that the people openly declare that they are Alawites. They have semi-organized institutions which do not have strict control over the Alawites. However, the Alawites have built “Gathering Houses” in the metropolitan areas of Turkey, such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara.

Alawites have very different traditions that seem to be awkward in the dominant Islamic culture in Kurdistan. During my childhood I was constantly hearing that Alawites did not eat rabbits. The Sunni Kurds would go hunting rabbits in our villages because there were a great deal of rabbits in the Alawite areas. The Sunni Kurds would make fun of us as “Non rabbit eaters.” I did not know why we would not eat rabbits and the reasons why we would not eat rabbits were not satisfying at all. One of the reasons we would not eat rabbits was that “rabbits had long ears like donkeys.” Or “they would not digest their food” etc.

However, when one reads Leviticus 11, then one can see the real reason why Alawites do not eat rabbits: “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them: Speak to the Israelites people thus: These are the creatures that you may eat from all the land animals: any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoods, and that chews the cud—such you may eat. ….the hare –although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you.

I am of the opinion that this passage makes it clear why we Alawite do not eat rabbits. The degree of Jewish religion on Alawites has not been determined and it needs to be researched. Only then we would know how much we got from the Jewish beliefs and tradition.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April is the Bride of the Year

The month of April is a moody one; it has both rainy and shiny days. Some trees have blossomed and some trees are beginning to open their buds. The tree blossoms bring happiness to one’s life. Therefore, one would like to smile and dream of nice and happy occasions and things that have not been real in life. Then there are cloudy and rainy days—albeit good for some reasons—but after a long dreary winter are sometimes unbearable. One’s longing for the blooms, tree leaves and flowers in the garden become intensive; this longing resembles the longing between two lovers for the intense feelings and passion. The rainy and shiny days also resemble two contradictions between two lovers for moments of hate as well.

The month of April is the Bride of the Year, told me my Kurdish friend of Yezidi religious belief. I liked it very much and have not forgotten for more than two decades since my friend had told me. It is impossible to forget something that meaningful and something that fills the mind and makes love the life. Why is April the bride of the year? April behaves like the bride. It is between winter and spring. The snow has not melted yet; the flowers start to come out; and the trees start to bloom while the mountain peaks are covered with snow. There are occasionally also snow blizzards. One would wander whether one is going to see the black soil again. So April is caught between winter and spring and does not know what way to go—stay in winter or head toward spring. What way is the sweetest? Is it not like a bride? Bride is ready to marry and it is so hard to leave her parents’ house because that house give her life and brought her up to marriage age. Then there the groom that wants to take away from her home and bring her into his home where she finds another kind of happiness. The decision is very hard. What shall she do? Shall she stay in her old home or go away to the new home? She cries and doest not want leave her family home. Can she tolerate that her whole life? It is not possible to prolong this old habit. The new force draws her and she becomes a part of her new life or husband. So is the month of April. She finally decides to go with spring and give new life to everything that wants to be alive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The tragedy at Virginia Tech

After the tragedy at the Virginia Tech, many spin doctors produced theories of preventive actions that could have prevented the number of deaths. Such spin doctors as we can notice are not just from the field of politics when the time of elections come, there are spin doctors for every field. At our coffee break yesterday, my co-workers and I discussed the issue. Of course we were critical of the university administration and security department for not having taken preventive action to stop the whole tragedy. At the same time we introduce our plan of action about how we have acted when the first killing occurred.

It is probably easy to blame the authorities for not responding adequately. What we or I have done at such a moment? To be frank: I don’t know! Incidents as such have occurred and will perhaps occur in the future—let us hope not. But having experienced enough, there will certainly be attacks of this kind as long as one unsatisfied/sick human being wants to commit such insane but “human” act. I used human act because animals kill only if they are hungry and they target only one prey; there it is human who was insane to take lives of others unnecessarily.

It is easy to claim that this could have done or that might have prevented the carnage. I don’t disagree but not totally agree with such claims. It is very hard to prevent such things because the human mind is capable for any sadistic ideas because the action is not a mechanical action in its nature. The university is big; there might have been many threats. How can you be certain that every threat could be a real one but not a coax? It is hard to determine. This action can be carried out everywhere and not just a campus. There are mechanics of preventing certain areas such as power plants etc. On the other hand, there is almost no way of preventing a human being from executing massacres or killings. If one wants to go after depressed population, then one has to look into every fellow citizen. There is a high number of people are depressed and visit a psychologist. And there are depressed people who do not seek such help at all.

I think our generation or generation after WWII is not used to such tragedies; these tragedies occur in other countries that are far away. Therefore do not have a big impact on people here. It is possible that we have to get used to such tragedies here to and somehow accept the destiny and live with it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ignorance can be challanged by a simple answer

This week I stayed at work, which is fortunately library, to work on the assignments for my classes at Queens College. One of my co-workers is also from Turkey. To note, that I am from Turkey too, but I am from Kurdistan or North Kurdistan. In political terms it is termed as Pan-Kurdism—I guess. I do not understand it why it is called Pan-Kurdism if we have to call different parts of Kurdistan North, South, East and Southwest. Before Germany was united, the Germans were not called Pan-Germanists who were for the unification of GDR and BRD. I stopped by at my Turkish co-worker and she was with the employee who was outsourced by a company that serves libraries. She introduced me as Turkish even though I had tolled her that I am Kurdish when we first met a year ago. At the moment I did not want to correct her and left it the way it was. I did not think that she hurt my feelings and I am used to such remarks by Turkish intellectuals who still swim in the waters of Turkish chauvinism not seeing that there are other ethnic groups other than Turks in Turkey. My co-worker has a doctorate in education and still has fathomed the difference. Later on I wrote to her that I would like to correct her on the issue of being Turkish. I clearly delineated the difference between being Turkish and Kurdish. I reminded her that we both speak Turkish, which I was forced to learn. Known Turkish or other languages is a fine thing, but being forced to learn Turkish is raping the mind of other people. It is a psychological sickness to force other people to change their identity or culture. The enforcer is capable of doing everything, ranging from genocide to destruction of countries because the mindset is based on resorting to force that could be detrimental any time. If an intellectual who has taught at a university level and does not know the differences and has not accepted uniqueness of differences within a country, the normal layman could be much worse and ignorant of events happening in his/her country and around the world. This ignorance I thought would be only challenged by reminding them kindly of the environment.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter in my childhood!

When I was a child, there were vendors on the streets of my town selling boiled eggs at this time of the year. These eggs were boiled in onion water; therefore, they had a reddish color. They did not sell any other times but only in early April. We would by these eggs and compete with friends as to whose egg would smash first by hitting the tops of the eggs. At that time I did not think of the meaning of such events. Now, however, it makes a lot of sense to me when I think about it. It was the time of Easter. Even though people did not celebrate as Easter, the remnant of celebration has stayed in the minds of these non-Christian people after being Islamized. Was this kind of celebration from the Christians who were forced to leave their homeland less than a century ago? In this case I talking about the Armenians with whom we, the Kurds, shared a land. Or something was left to us from the Christian Assyrians or Kaldeans or Arameans? Who knows? These cultural events need to be explored or researched—hopefully in the future when the Kurds are free to look into the roots of these celebrations and traditions that we unknowingly celebrate. To note here is that such events recently have died out like the dinosaurs once roamed on the surface of the planet. Unfortunately, there is any effort to revive such things that once shaped our lives and were a part of us. Once again I hope that these tradition kept alive or are revived when we gain our cultural freedoms in the lands where the cultural rights of ethnic groups are denied or oppressed brutally.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Kurds celerated New Year worldwide!

Kurdish New Year celebration in Istanbul

Last two weeks Kurds across the globe celebrated their New Year (Newroz). In various parts of the world, the celebrations were carried out in different styles and manner. In Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Northeastern Iran and Northern Syria) the celebrations were massive and millions participated to demand ethnic and cultural rights. In Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Kurds have an undeclared independence, the celebrations were in form in picnic and festivals; there was not a threat of being jailed or killed. In other parts of Kurdistan, the regional governments have jailed Kurdish activists for either speaking for Kurdish freedom thus insulting the nationhood. This was very evident in Turkey. Turkey has tried for many years to block Kurdish New Year celebrations as an act of separatism. By doing this, Turkish governments and other regional governments try to eradicate Kurdish culture in the Middle East and create homogenous ethnic cultures upon which their nations (Turkey, Iran, Syria and still Iraq) are based.

Picture from

Despite all the pressure—military or legal—Kurds have celebrated their New Year on March 21st. These celebrations have been in form of festival comprising of singing, dances and speeches on large city or town gathering places. In other countries such as Europe, North America and Russia and so on, Kurds have celebrated New Years festivities in big hall, conference rooms and even on the streets. This tradition has been going on in Europe for decades. It has become a cultural part of European celebrations.

Picture from Kurdish dances at Newroz celebration in Berlin

Monday, April 2, 2007

What is in this week’s obsession?

I used to listen to Alistair Cook on the BBC World News every week. He would send his reflections on America to BBC listeners. Somehow I had grown addicted to his weekly reports. I still go his site and listen to some of his reports. I am still his aficionado. This in the flow of time will change and I have to find some other obsessions to be busy with.

My obsession is now a burden! We all have our burdens in our lives. The rose always complains about the thorn that makes it appealing to it. Then when we approach the rose, its beauty becomes distasteful in our thoughts. Nonetheless we like it and we would like to posses it until we come near how difficult it is to go near it; smell it and then we give up cursing it. I love it thinking about it. It makes me think about anything I love and later on the novelty wears off. As happened in case of Alistair Cooke. I listened to him, however, now he is forgotten.

Is that all with everything? It is hard to say yes or no. I might say yayin (it is a combination of Ja and Nein in German.).

I believe that is different with a few things that could never change. Some of you might have thought of love as not a changing element. Maybe! I will not dispute it. However, I am of different opinion. The love for or obsession with ideas or concepts the crucial issue. This week and weekend many people celebrated and will celebrate. The Hebrews/Jews will celebrate the path to freedom. This concept has not died and I believe will never die.

Some people will celebrate/commemorate Jesus Christ whose novel ideas are ephemeral. What is the obsession with this man, which is alive all the times? His teaching has inspired the humanity. Nothing has affected our lives positively as much as his teaching has done. How can one not be obsessive with him? He preached freedom and nonviolence thousands of years ago. He had the courage to do it; he had the courage to forgive. This happened in a time when there was no mercy among people. He took the pain to insist on being peaceful. His obsession was with freedom and peace. We just need a little bit of it.

What is my obsession? It is the same as Jesus’—freedom. This weekend I celebrated Kurdish New Year (actually March 21st) in Boston (I will write about it next time.). The burden of freedom had made me to celebrate this annual tradition that inspires the thoughts of freedom. I have been busy with this burden for weeks now.

At times, I think myself about freedom. What is it? How can I describe it so that I will be obsessed with it for ever? I do not know how to answer it satisfactorily. Yet, I think freedom is the beat of never ending drum; freedom is the moment when autumn leaves fall into a creek to join the moisture; and the freedom is Love!