An Arab Idol judge stressed her staunch disapproval of a Kurdish participant denoting her country of origin as Kurdistan, not Iraq, during the show on Saturday.
For the first time in the pan-Arab talent show, Barwas Hussein, from Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan sung in Kurdish.
The on-screen title showed Hussein’s country of origin as “Kurdistan Iraq,” while another two Iraqi participants had their country title as “Iraq.”
“I want to welcome, with love, all Iraqis because we have amazing voices from there,” the show’s Emirati judge and songstress Ahlam Al-Shamsi, said before saying Kurdistan is an “inseparable” part of Iraq.
“I am against the country title that says Berwas is from Kurdistan, because Kurdistan is an inseparable part of Iraq.” Pointing to Hussein, “I want your introduction to say that you are from Iraq and not Kurdistan.”
The Arab Idol audience applauded Ahlam’s remarks and clapped.
While Hussein is not so fluent in Arabic, it seemed that she understood the judge’s remarks.
The Kurdish contestant smiled at the judge, and mouthed the words “Kurdistan Iraq,” appearing to imply she preferred this country title instead of the judge’s preference.
The other three judges, who hailed from Egypt and Lebanon, kept quiet.
Kurdistan in Iraq is home to around five million people. Political disputes inside Iraq and the region stood against forming an independent Kurdish state and have marred Arab-Kurdish relations.
Despite Iraq having the first Kurdish president in the Arab world, Kurds still wish for more independence from Baghdad.