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Christians in Kurdish Iraq
By H.G. Hassan
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Christians of Kurdistan, including those who fled Bagdad to settle in Kurdistan, are enjoying a stable and secure life in the region. They took part in the elections and voted for their candidates freely without any pressure. A citizen said that the Christians cast their votes according to their personal convictions and they have high hopes to participate in the political process. Khairy Askary, one of the activists in the Cultural Centre of Kild and Syriac in Ankawa, says that they make their own decisions freely in Kurdistan and they're vibrant participants of the society. No political, ethnic or religious groups put pressure on them. Christians here participated in the elections that are something quite significant for us. He says:" it's true that many lists and blocs inside Ankawa were competing with one another, but this is an inherent part of the democratic process." Four main lists in Ankawa ran for the Provincial polls in Erbil. They were (Shilama, Rafidayn, the Public Council and the Independent List), and nine various lists ran for the Iraq's Parliamentary polls including ( KDP's close Shilama bloc, Democratic Assyrian Movement's affiliates Rafidayn, Kild, Syraic; Assyrian Council's affiliate the Public Council; the Communist's affiliates Warka, Abna Al-Rafidayn and Maliki's affiliate Babylon.) Ano Jawhar Abdoka, who's one of the KDP's officials in Ankawa, told us that all the above mentioned lists took part in the election campaign and the elections successfully. All the parties participated in the process without any hindrance. "We as Christians of Ankawa are lucky that our lives are secure and we're enjoying the freedom of taking part and selecting our candidates," Abdoka said. In Ankawa, the civil society organizations, local and international observers and media played an active role to maintain the election process free and fair. "The most important thing is that, in contrast to the rest of Iraq, we participated in the process with our own political will and chose our own candidates," Abdoca went on. "We're lucky that our citizens can participate and influence the social and political life." "Christians and Assyrians in the Kurdistan Region are free and do not have such grave problems like the Christians in the other parts of Iraq like Baghdad for example." This is what Romeo Hakari, Secretary of Baytunahreyn Democratic Party, said. "There are no ethnic and religious discriminations between Kurds and Assyrians, or Muslims and Christians in Kurdistan, all are living in brotherhood," said Hakari. He remarked that they all celebrated the Easter and participated in the election campaign and the voting process. When one looked at the election posters during the campaign in Ankawa, one would feel the diversity of the democratic process. Different colors, religions, ethnicities and various political opinions could be observed. Here, the election was adorned by the distinguished Christian characteristics. In addition, Kurdistan's political parties played a positive, supportive and competitive role in gaining more votes. Ankawa was a sample of democracy in Kurdistan; it was a real nest of co-existence and respecting the differences. As one Christian said: "Kurdistan is a perfect example of democracy and co-existence, I wish Iraq will emulate this dynamic region."

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