The hidden wives of TurkeyKurds are usually talked about as "oppressed", both in Turkey, Iran and Iraq. They are. But many Kurds are also among the most hardline Muslims in the region. The most famous militant Islamist in Norway is Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd:
The hidden wives of Turkey
The villages of south-east Anatolia, in the corner of Turkey that borders Iraq and Syria, are bleak, hauntingly beautiful places that do not give up their secrets lightly. It is part of what Kurds claim as their homeland, where years of violent struggle between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish government have left more than 30,000 killed. The government outlawed the practice of polygamy nearly a century ago. But Islamic custom can allow men to take up to four wives. In this devoutly Muslim region, it is estimated that nearly a quarter of all marriages are polygamous. Men like 32-year-old Resat Yagdi regard it as their birthright. He is a part-time electrician and onion farmer, with a beautiful wife and three children, one just a week old. But despite these blessings, he is determined to take a second wife to enhance his prosperity and prestige in the village.
Iranian Kurds dream of independence and jobs
Can the several 35 million Kurds in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere hope to live some day in a united and independent Kurdistan? Shuan, a shopkeeper from Sardasht, the last town in Iranian Kurdistan perched on the Iraqi border, is convinced they can. “We succeeded 60 years ago. Why should we fail now?,” he shouts from the back of his shop. His tone is resolutely optimistic. Yet to date the vague attempts at independence have proven difficult, impossible even, in this remote region in Western Iran. Caught in a bind, the people here, as elsewhere in Kurdistan, are suffering from chronic unemployment. “Many qualified young people hang around on the streets, that’s if they don’t get lured into drug dealing in Iraq or Pakistan,” says Shuan ruefully. No one here will ever forget the heroism of one Qazi Mohammad, the legendary President of the Republic of Mehabad, a republic that lasted less than a year, from January to December 1946. Oppressed under Khomeini, the Kurdish people are still repressed today. Its journalists are subject to censorship and its youth to gradual assimilation. It is also difficult for ethnic Kurds to hold important government positions. On the Internet, for example, there is a wealth of sites that are not filtered. They are as numerous, as they are short-lived. “Their shelf-life is only a week, then the government gets its hands on them,” Shuan says. Four Kurdish television channels can now be received by satellite dish, a device strictly forbidden in the country of the mullahs. In Mahabad, two weekly Kurdish newspapers are published, Kousha and Rasat, but they are under state control.