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Prizren's Dervish Fakirs: The Newroz ...
Prizren, Kosovo
By Michele Pero
08 Jul 2015

Ancient Shiite rituals were brought into the Balkans in the 15th century during the Ottoman invasion and dominion and have been kept intact up till our day, representing a parallel and very deep-rooted Islam amongst the people. In the town of Prizren in Kosovo there is the tariqa Rufai. To celebrate the Newroz, or Nevruz, the beginning of the new year which coincides with the arrival of spring, all the dervishes in the area meet up here to celebrate a propitiatory ritual. The ritual lasts five hours and is extremely exacting. The followers must go through a great test of physical and mental exertion. The dervishes pray, dance and sing and try to attain a state of trance. At the culmination of the ritual the feats of Fakirism take place. Whilst some of the dervishes play and sing, the shaikh takes long skewers and begins to pierce the mouths of the dervishes who willingly undergo this test, beginning with the children. The older dervishes, the braver and more expert, are pierced with a real sword. A blade is placed on their throat and the shaikh climbs on top of it. The ritual ends when the dervishes remove the skewers. Just a few drops of blood appear on their cheeks.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
21 Mar 2015

On 21 March dozens of Syrian Kurds in Qamishli celebrated the Nowruz, the beginning of the Kurdish New Year.  

Since both militias have been engaged in a decisive and difficult battle to drive ISIS from northeast Syria, symbols of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) militias were widely present during the celebration. 

Qamishli is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the YPG and YPJ, and has declared autonomy over majority Syrian Kurdish areas that are collectively known in Kurdish as Rojava.

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Syrian Kurdish Refugees Find a Home i...
Akre
By Mat Wolf
20 Mar 2015

March 20, 2015
Akre, Iraqi Kurdistan 


Housed inside a former detention facility, Syrian Kurds who fled fighting in their homeland are doing their best to restore normalcy in their lives in the mountainous Iraqi Kurdish city of Akre in the Dohuk government.
 
At the Akre settlement for Syrian Kurds—housed inside a former prison and Baathist military base—parents look on as their children run around the facility’s courtyard setting off fireworks. Youngsters are also working on a mural covering part of the two-story, yellow brick facility’s walls and stairwells in an art project sponsored by the Rise Foundation NGO and local teachers. Cartoon characters, animals and hearts are popular themes in the artwork.
 
“I like the trees, flowers, woods—the natural views,” says English teacher and fellow refugee Nazim Qamr, 29. He adds he’d prefer the children avoid cartoon characters, but it’s not up to him.
 
“We ask the children and listen to their opinions about what they like and don’t like,” Qamr says. 
 
As rays of sun occasionally poke through the clouds on an otherwise gloomy March 20, Iraqi Kurdistan’s mountains and postcard beauty makes it easy to forget the Akre settlement is a refugee camp. Housing just under 1,500 people—many of them small children—its residents are afforded small apartments converted from prison cells, and many admit they’re superior to the UN tents and ad-hoc structures that define many of the region’s refugee camps.
 
“They gave each family a room,” says 24-year-old English teacher Kawther Ahmed, originally from Damascus. She came to Akre with her family a year and a half ago, and said camp administrators from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government have done their best to ensure the Syrian Kurds feel welcome. “Compared to the tents, this building is better than the tents,” she says.
 
Because the Syrians at Akre have been taken in by their fellow Kurds, they’re also allowed more privileges than the local government typically allows non-Kurdish refugees. Residents of the Akre settlement are allowed to freely come and go from the camp once they’ve filed residency paperwork, and can seek work in the local community. But despite some advantages given to Kurdish refugees in Kurdish territory, many of Akre’s Syrians still bear the scars of their homeland’s complex civil war, and have faced difficulties in adjusting to life in Iraq.
 
Adnan Mahmoud, 35, says he is originally a mechanic from Qamishli who fled the forces of the so-called Islamic State in Syria and came to Iraq a year and half ago. Since that time he’s developed a cataract in his left eye, and he says he’s gone partially blind. “It’s a simple surgery, but they don’t have doctors here to do it, and I’ve filed paperwork to go to a hospital that can, but nothing’s working,” he says.

He adds his young daughter Haifa has suffered a knee injury, and has had an X-ray done, but she also needs surgery and the refugees at Akre can’t find basic medical care.
 
Mahmoud’s friend and neighbor Samir Mohamed Saleh, 31, is a former restaurant worker who lived in both Syria and Lebanon before fleeing to Iraq a year and a half ago. He adds that in addition to insufficient medical care, work opportunities for Syrian Kurds in Iraq are limited and low paying.
 
They both say they’d like to be able to find real, serious work like they had in Syria. Like other men in the camp, they’ve found work packing and loading gravel, but they say the salary is poor and the work exhausting, sometimes for as little as $1.30 a day.
 
“We need real work, we need self-respect,” Samir says.
 
He adds however he thinks the Iraqi Kurds have been gracious, and that at least in Akre he has a roof over his head and food to eat.
 
“It’s good here, we have bread, electricity, food and water,” he says. “The Kurds in Iraq have helped us a lot, I mean we’re the same nation, but we still need more.” 

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men and women perform a traditional dance during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli, Syria. The Nowruz has nationalist as well as cultural significance for Kurds around the world.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women perform a traditional dance during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli. Syrian Kurds were not allowed to celebrate the Nowruz in public before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women and men perform a traditional dance during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli. Qamishli is part of a de-facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria, controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women carry torches during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli, Syria. Kurdish women have had a large role fighting in the ranks of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) militia against ISIS.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

A young Syrian Kurd carries a torch during a Nowruz celebration in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

A Kurdish girl stands during a minute of silence in remembrance of fallen Kurdish fighters.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men and women march during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men and women carry torches and Kurdish flags during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women are pictured during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women are pictured during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men march during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

A Kurdish woman carries a torch during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Kurdish women declare victory as they gather around a bonfire during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli. The ritual fire symbolizes revival at the beginning of the New Year.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Kurdish men and women dance around a bonfire and brandish the People's Protection Units (YPG)' s flag during a celebration of Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Nowroz In Kurdistan
Batman, Turkey
By U.S. Editor
19 Mar 2013

A concert of traditional Kurdish music is held at a festival for Nowroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring, as well as the start of the new calendar year in the Persian system. Nowroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds, Afghans, Tajiks and Iranians in the Middle East and Central Asia by wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Nowroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marred by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey

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Newroz in Kurdistan (33 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Boys celebrate around the fire at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (32 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

A woman holds her brightly colored chid at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (31 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

A girl is dresssed up as a PKK flighter at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (30 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Two women pose with the PKK infront of a celebrational fire at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (29 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Men preform a ritual dance at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (28 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women preform a ritual Kurdish dance at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (27 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women preform a ritual Kurdish dance at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (26 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Men play traditional instruments at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (25 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Kurds celebrate Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (24 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women dance at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (23 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women dance at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (21 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women dance at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (20 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women pose for a portrait at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (19 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Women pose for a portrait at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (18 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

A Women poses on a motorcycle at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (17 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Boys chant under a Kurdish flag at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (16 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Boys chant under a Kurdish flag at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (15 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Boys chant under a Kurdish flag at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (14 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

Men on trampoline hold up flags at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (13 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

A concert of traditional Kurdish music is held at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (12 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

A concert of traditional Kurdish music is held at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.

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Newroz in Kurdistan (11 of 33)
Batman, Turkey
By Monique Jaques
19 Mar 2013

A concert of traditional Kurdish music is held at a festival for Newroz, an ancient holiday celebrating the astronomical Northward equinox and the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new calander year in the Persian system. Newroz is celebrated by millions of Kurds and Iranians in the Middle East by, wearing colorful clothing and jumping over fires to welcome the spring holiday. Originally a Zoroastrian festival, Newroz is now embraced by the Kurds to celebrate cultural unity and political goals. The celebrations are occasionally marked by violence as the celebration only recently became legal in Turkey.