photo: Eddy van Wessel

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Lion Cubs of the caliphate: a ticking time bomb

The capture of Tal Abyad, or Gire Spi in Kurdish, last week by Kurdish forces caused thousands of residents to flee the strategic border town.

The exodus has given the world its first chance to really appreciate the scary effects ISIS has on civilians in the areas under its rule.

Journalists rarely make contact with people living in ISIS territories. They must depend mainly on those who fled ISIS and brought back the stories of its harsh rule by Sharia law and the way the radicals indoctrinate children.


Read the whole story here

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kurdish FGM campaign seen as global model

The media campaign that helped lead to the 2011 ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Kurdistan Region is being looked to as an example elsewhere in the region, according to the anti-FGM activist behind the plan.

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, general manager of the German-Iraqi NGO Wadi, told Rudaw the Kurdish FGM campaign is now being copied in neighboring Iran.

“People look now at Kurdistan as an example. Our Kurdish material is being copied into Farsi. The awareness material is translated and gets used officially. The Stop-FGM-Iran homepage is online,” he said.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

KRG needs policy for Kurds who return from ISIS

Of the 500 Kurds that are known to have joined the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, 50 have returned to Iraqi Kurdistan at some stage and for various reasons.


Upon returning, they were questioned by the Kurdish security police. Some remain in jail, some were released and being watched, according to the Ministry of Religion in the Kurdistan region’s capital of Erbil has said.


Elsewhere in the world, returnees from ISIS are the subject of heated discussion. In most European countries, jail awaits them if they are found guilty of membership of a terrorist organisation.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Life in Mosul: terror and taxes in ISIS ‘prison city’

A year after it conquered Mosul, the radical Islamic State still retains an iron grip  on the lives of the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq’s second city.

The information that leaks out of the city paints a harrowing picture of executions, enforced taxation, informers, lack of services, and ever-stricter applications of the group’s hard-line interpretation of Islamic law.

For example, local people say the ultra-conservative group continues to tighten  its regulations on women´s clothing and men’s beards.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Captured weapons keep ISIS in the fight

An interesting game of weapons exchange is being played out across these days. Weapons are stolen, taken from the dead, confiscated from the wounded, and even, in the oddest example, delivered by international allies.


On its brutal advances into Mosul, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Ramadi, the Islamic State group, or ISIS, has been able to seize loads of military equipment when the Iraqi army fled, leaving their gear behind.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Zoroastrian faith returns to Kurdistan in response to ISIS violence

After over a millennium, the Zoroastrian faith is returning to its original habitat. The Ministry of Religion in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital Erbil has registered the religion, locally known as Zardashti, and suggested to the Kurdish government the ancient faith should be given its own directorate general and its believers be allowed to build new temples.

“Now it’s time,” says Nouri Sharif, one of the initiators of the movement that established a Zoroastrian organization in Europe in 2006 and in March announced in Erbil its official return to Kurdistan. In April, a Supreme Council of Zoroastrians in Kurdistan was founded.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

What happened to Yezidi boys taken by ISIS?

Three male Yezidi children who had been kidnapped by ISIS have reportedly been killed in battle while fighting for the extremist group, according to a well-placed source.

The alleged deaths underscore an overlooked aspect of ISIS’ capture of over 5,000 Kurdish Yezidi men, women and children since August - a horrific story that has focused mostly on the fate of the women and girls who were taken by ISIS fighters as sex slaves and servants.

The report of the killing of these child soldiers begs the question: what happened to the boys?


Read the story here