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An Atheist actor murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan

Updated: Jul 12, 2023


Xwanas Wrya Glee, assassinated Kurdish-Iraqi Atheist

In a shocking incident that has sent shockwaves through Iraqi Kurdistan, actor Xwanas Wrya Glee was brutally shot dead on June 22, due to his atheistic beliefs. Known as the "king of the street" in Chamchamal, Wrya was not only a talented actor but also a poet, sports enthusiast, and devoted father. His unwavering commitment to stand up against injustice and cruelty made him a target. The fanatic zealots could not tolerate his non-religious world view. The murderer who is now arrested, after committing the act, wrote in Facebook: "I'll not allow anyone to vilify my prophet. I'll not."


This tragic incident highlights the rising influence of religious intolerance in the region. Over the span of more than 30 years, the ruling parties of Kurdistan - KDP, and PUK - have actively supported Islamists to quell dissent and maintain their grip on power, effectively stifling the voices of dissatisfaction and progress. As a result, Kurdistan has been held back from its potential as a progressive and enlightened society. Sadly, Xwanas Wrya's case is not an isolated incident. It is part of a larger pattern of violence and persecution in Kurdistan. Over the past 32 years, during which two parties held power and supported Islamist groups, the region has witnessed numerous victims of terrorism, such as Shapour Abdulqader and Qabil Adel, Sardasht Osman, Kawa Germiyani, Widad Hussein, etc. This prolonged presence of extremist organizations has perpetuated an environment of fear and intolerance, and stifled freedom of thought and expression. All these are backed by the authorities. The tragic fate of Xwanas Wrya is a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the underlying factors that contribute to the perpetuation of violence and attacks on freedom. Efforts must be made to dismantle extremist networks and empower individuals to express their beliefs without fear of reprisal. Only through these actions can Kurdistan break free from the grip of radicalism and establish a society that embraces diversity, peace, and respect for all, where individuals can live their lives without the constant threat of violence and persecution. It is a somber reality that Kurdistan has the most mosques both per inhabitant and per area, showing the growth of religious conservatism. Xwanas Wrya's legacy is a poignant reminder of the significance of defending freedom of belief and expression. His tragic story underscores the need for a renewed commitment to upholding human rights society that celebrates diversity. His tragic story calls upon rationalists, freethinkers and secularist activists to do their best to insist on authorities to respect freedom in general and freedom of thought and expression. We need action to address the prevailing climate of intolerance and violence that has engulfed the region. Those in power must face international pressure to end persecution, oppression, and support for Islamists. They must respect people’s freedom.

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