Buildings torched and policemen wounded in
Iraqi Kurdistan magazine article protests
May 8, 2012
ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —
Kurdish protesters condemning the publication of a
blasphemous article in an Erbil-based magazine set
fire to a cultural center and three pubs in Erbil on
Tuesday, while eight policemen were wounded in
confrontations between demonstrators.
Hundred rallied Tuesday in front of the Kurdistan
parliament against the article by Norwegian Kurdish
expatriate writer Halmat Goran published on May 2 in
local magazine Chrpa. The article is said to be
offensive to Islam and Muslims.
Eyewitnesses said a number of protesters attacked
Aweza Cultural Center on 60m Street and torched the
Erbil police chief Abdul-Khaleq Talaat said the
protests in front of parliament ended after some
hours. But the protesters later changed the
direction of the rally and attacked police.
He said eight policemen were wounded, but their
wounds are not serious.
Protestors were seen throwing stones and smashing up
the security kiosks outside of parliament. Police
reacted with riot control tear gas.
Protesters also burned down three pubs - Pizghar,
Van Royal and Aweza - near the parliament, reported
Sbay media website.
Protesters attacked the headquarters of the ruling
Kurdistan Democratic Party's Zagros TV,www.ekurd.net
according to Rudaw. The news website added that
security forces arrived at the scene, preventing the
protesters from completely burning down the
There is now heavy traffic on 60m Street due to the
Demonstrator Imam Ahmed al-Mohammed told AKnews: "We
urge the Kurdistan parliament to enact a law soon to
deter insults on Islam.
"Insults on Islam are unacceptable and we ask for
justice. Those who do these types of things should
Mustafa al-Jiran, another protestor, said: "Chrpa
staff should be punished and we shouldn’t let
anybody use freedom of journalism to insult Islam.
"We want see the Minister of Culture and Youth to
resign, because he hasn't commented yet and has no
Erbil's governor Nawzad Hadi said: "Permission was
not given for today's protest. Now we're working on
calming down the situation."
The editor-in-chief of Chrpa magazine Hemn Ari was
arrested by Erbil police on Monday after the
Ministry of Religious Affairs filed a lawsuit and an
arrest warrant was issued.
The magazine's management announced earlier this
week that the publication would be shut down due to
public and government pressure.
Jaafar Guwani, spokesman for the Kurdistan Union of
Islamic Scientists, said the union does not support
any sort of violence with regard to the case against
the provocative article.
Guwani said the union demanded that the magazine
officials be sued and the magazine be closed down.
"Both demands were met, therefore the union doesn't
support and participate in this protest," he added.
Kurdistan's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani
with Erbil's Imams and clerics on
Sunday to oppose such stories against Islam.
Barzani added that "freedom of speech should be
maintained and reactions should not lead to
complicating social life in Kurdistan".
By Fryad Mohammed
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