Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Iraqi Kurdistan is a more
“progressive” Muslim region than the other Muslim
countries of the Middle East in regard to the
treatment of minority religious groups, said a
British lawmaker on Saturday.
“Let me tell you why I think Kurdistan is a
progressive Muslim region,” said Robert Halfon, a
member of the Conservative Party in the British
parliament. “A few days ago, we were in Sulaimaniyah
and we went to a quarter which was a Jewish quarter,
and this quarter had a preservation order to
preserve the quarter.”
“Tell me which other country in the Middle East has
a Jewish quarter and they are preserving it,” added
Halfon, who was part of a delegation of several
British lawmakers and diplomats visiting the
semiautonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Originally Jewish, Halfon is the member of
parliament for Harlow in the southeast of England.
British lawmaker Robert Halfon sees Kurdistan as a
more progressive Muslim region than the other Muslim
countries in the Middle East - Photo: Sherwan Muhsim/Rudaw
He said he felt sympathy
for the Kurds because, just like his own Jewish
people, they had suffered a “holocaust,” referring
to the 1988 gassing of 5,000 civilian Kurds in
Halabja, which was just one part of the murder of
more than 182,000 Kurds by Saddam Hussein in the
As a person who had lost family members in the
Jewish Holocaust of Nazi Germany, Halfon said he
would work “hard” with his other British colleagues
to make the massacre of the Kurds recognized as
“After 1945, the world said genocide won’t happen
again,” said Halfon. “But in 1988 it allowed it
The British delegation visiting Kurdistan last week
included Nadhim Zahawi, another Conservative Party
lawmaker; Lord Clement-Jones, a member of the House
of Lords; Gary Kent, a Labor Party parliamentary
lobbies for Kurds; Mathew Doyle, currently advisor
to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and
John McTernan, an opinion writer for The Scotsman
and The Daily Telegraph.
Such a visit and other recent ones paid by more
high-ranking world leaders to Kurdistan indicate the
fact that, in the wake of the US-led invasion of
Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Kurds have never enjoyed such
heights in their international relations.
Kurdistan’s booming economy, of course, has always
been one of the greatest factors in improving its
“There has been an economic miracle,” said the
Conservative Party’s Zahawi, while describing Iraqi
Kurdistan, which sits on giant oil and gas reserves.
The Kurdistan Regional Government estimates its oil
reserves to be in the order of 45 billion barrels,
nearly one third of Iraq’s total 143 billion
Although there are 45 international oil companies
presently active in the Kurdish oil fields, British
companies number only five. The British politicians
said one of the aims of the visit was to increase
the United Kingdom’s investment and trade volume in
the semiautonomous region.
One of the initial steps, Lord Clement-Jones said,
would be trying to establish the issuing of business
visas at the UK Consulate in Erbil to Kurdish
entrepreneurs who were interested in pursuing
economic ties with the UK.
On Saturday, at about the time of Rudaw’s interview
with the British politicians, the New York Times
published a list of the top international tourist
locations for 2011 – Kurdistan came in at number 34.
author or news agency,