by Rosie Alfatlawi
An Iraqi paper has sparked fury after it published an image implying that Kurdistan would be raped by its neighbors.
The picture depicts Kurdistan as an innocent-looking blonde girl, while Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran and Jordan are portrayed as black men in boxers leering at her.
Iraq’s al-Nahar newspaper printed the photograph on its front page the day after the autonomous Kurdistan region held a controversial referendum on independence.
Iraqi newspaper issue yesterday. The girl as Kurdistan, men are Turkey Iraq Iran Syria Jordan. ISIS rape culture continues. Yes Independence pic.twitter.com/xws4g4izai— Berivan Dosky (@BerivanDosky) September 28, 2017
More than 92 percent of voters backed independence, according to results announced Thursday.
The poll was strongly rejected by Baghdad, however, as well as neighboring countries Syria, Turkey and Iran, which all have large Kurdish minorities.
Since the referendum, Iraq has taken a number of measures against the northern Kurdish region, which has enjoyed autonomous rule since since the 1990s.
On Friday, Baghdad imposed a suspension of international flights from Irbil and Sulaimaniya airports, while calling for the deployment of government troops in the region.
"A declaration of war"
Responding to the image printed by al-Nahar, Kurdish MP Shirn Raza told Rudaw: “We strongly condemn this disgusting action. Showing disrespect to women and this very action is expected from them.”
“Publishing this meme amounts to a declaration of war against the Kurdistan region. We will be filing a lawsuit against this paper."
Shakhawan Abdullah, the deputy head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) faction in the Iraqi parliament, added:
“Our two different cultures is one of the reasons behind our separation. The publishing of this image unmasks their real face."
"It shows how they eye our women, honor, territory and wealth. They showed this in practice during the Anfal campaign and in the assaulting of the Yazidi women," he continued according to the Kurdish site.
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The meme had previously circulated on social media, where it was popular among Iraqi Arabs, who largely oppose Kurdish independence.
Many others, however, have expressed anger at the photo that is felt to be in poor taste, particularly given the use of rape and sexual slavery as a tool of war by ISIS.
Both the Kurdish Pashmerga and government troops have battled the Islamist militants in the north of Iraq, with Kurdistan continuing to host large numbers of displaced from Mosul and its surroundings.
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