Kurds - History and Cultural Relations

The Kurds have a long and eventful history. The Greek historian Xenophon recounted his encounters with the "Karduchi" as early as 375 B . C . The Arabs who brought Islam to the area in the seventh century A . D . were the first to refer to "Kurds." Many important figures in the history of the Ottoman and Persian empires were Kurds, and the remote area inhabited by Kurds served as a buffer between empires. The Kurds have long fought for autonomy, either as self-governing provinces or as an independent nation-state.

This history has profoundly affected almost every aspect of Kurdish life and culture. Rapid social change has been occurring in the countries that divide Kurdistan, which affects the Kurds as well. The policies of the various governments have also had quite different kinds of impact on the Kurds. Whereas the Turkish government outlaws the use of the Kurdish language in public and the publication or possession of Kurdish writings or audio recordings, the Iraqi government allowed the use of Kurdish as the language of instruction for Kurdish schoolchildren during the 1970s and 1980s. Thus, the development of Kurdish literature prospered in Iraq but was severely hampered in Turkey. In addition to dialectal differences, written communication is further complicated by the use of the Latin, Arabic, and Cyrillic alphabets in the different countries. These examples illustrate the complexity of the situation and serve as a caution against overgeneralization.

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