Monday, February 23, 2009

Kristoffer Walker says no

28-year-old Iraq War veteran Kristoffer Walker is refusing to return to Iraq. WEAU13's "Wisconsin Soldier Refuses To Rejoin Unit In Iraq" has text and video, transcript below for those who can't stream or require closed caption:

Sarah Rasmussen: Good evening, I'm Sarah Rasmussen and after serving after part of a duty in Iraq, the soldier in Wisconsin has decided not to rejoin his unit and faces possible arrest for that decision. We first told you about Specialist Kristoffer Walker [last] night on WEAU13 News at Six. He's serving with the 353rd transportation company that was supposed to ship out yesterday morning to return to Iraq after a two week leave; however, after his request for a transfer went unanswered by his superiors Walker opted not to return to Iraq for moral reasons Walker, who enlisted in the Army Reserve shortly after September 11, says after six years the US is still fighting a war they should have never been involved with.

Kristoffer Walker: Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war in Iraq, is -- it's an immoral operation and it's also being poorly managed.

Sarah Rasmussen: According to the United States Military, Specialist Walker has 30 days to report. After that he'll be considered a deserter and the military will issue a warrant for his arrest.

Dona and Jim noted Kristoffer Walker and WEAU13 last night. (And thank you to them for filling in.) Lou Hillman's "AWOL soldier staying home" (Fox 11) is a text report on Kristoffer Walker's stand which also features video of Hillman's report, the transcript of which follows:

Mark Leland: An AWOL soldier from Green Bay says he has been ordered to return to duty or face severe consequences .

Laura Smith: Despite that Specialist Kristoffer Walker, a reservists in the 353rd Transportation Company, says he still will not return. Lou Hillman has more in this Fox 11 follow up.

Lou Hillman: Since notifying his superiors in Iraq about his decision not to return to duty, Kristoffer Walker says he has received one short e-mail from the Army warning him of possible consequences. Walker says he received the e-mail Saturday morning and it reads quote: "Spc. Walker, . . . You should return to Iraq. Ramifications of not returning will impact your personal and professional life much longer than four more months. Please reconsider the actions you are taking wisely."

Kristoffer Walker: My beliefs haven't changed and nothing has changed between Friday and now in Iraq. I am not a pacifist. There is an absolute need for our armed forces.

Lou Hillman: But Walker, who enlisted in the Army following the attacks on 9-11, says he believes the Iraq War is immoral. He's in the middle of his second tour of duty with the army and has been back home on a two week leave. On Friday, the 28-year-old Green Bay soldier intentionally missed a return flight saying he will no longer fight in a war he doesn't believe in. Instead Walker's asking to be reassigned to a local reserve unit. He says he even came down here to the United States Army Reserve Center to ask if there are any jobs here that would allow him to fulfill the terms of his enlistment contract?

Kristoffer Walker: I've stumbled upon a number of roadblocks along the way and there is no hope for me to believe that by returning to Iraq I would be able to petition for my transfer out of Iraq.

Lou Hillman: Late last week, however, an Army spokesperson encouraged Walker to return if he wants any chance of being reassigned.

Lt Col Nathan Banks: Because after thirty days he is dropped from the rolls so he needs to get back to his so he needs to get back to his unit and, in fact, work it through the chain there.

Lou Hillman: If Walker remains Absent Without Leave for one month, the Army would consider him a deserter and he could be arrested. The soldier says he's taking a stand for what he believes in and is ready to suffer whatever consequences may come from his decision. In Green Bay, Lou Hillman, Fox 11 News.

Laura Smith: Walker says he is receiving support from friends and family that includes soldiers he served with in Iraq. US Army officials have said Walker still has time to change his mind but would likely face some internal consequences for not reporting. His unit, the 353rd Transportation Company, is scheduled to return home this summer.

To really appreciate Nathan Banks' lisping performance ("lisping" is the only term for Banks' speaking), you have to stream the above report. Those who can't can just enjoy the dramatics of this statement by Banks, "His unit is counting on him. He's actually turning his back on his battle buddies. By just not reporting, you're letting down your teammates." That and more shows up in most text reports including in Tony Walter's "Green Bay soldier Kristoffer Walker refuses to return to Iraq" (Appleton Post Crescent) which also includes the following:

"The Army's definition is a little different than mine," Walker said. "The Army's definition is that you have to be opposed to war and all its forms. That's not me. I absolutely support using military force to respond or retaliate to attack. By their standards, you're not allowed to object to one conflict over another."
Walker enlisted in the Army in 2002 and spent a year in Iraq as an infantryman beginning in February 2004. When his initial enlistment ended, he joined the Army Reserve unit headquartered in Buffalo, Minn. The unit was activated in July and deployed to Samarra, Iraq, in October.
Walker said he has been seeking a transfer for several months, contacting elected officials and military personnel.
"Everyone drags their feet," Walker said. "I'm a little beyond frustrated. I signed up to defend the Constitution and defend the country against foreign enemies. But I'm not going to do something immoral and contrary to the contract I signed up for. It's really quite sad."

WKBT's text and video report is the same and from it we'll note, "Walker has been in the Army for seven years. This is second tour in Iraq."

Adam Aaro (WBAY -- link has text video, quote is from video and is correct, text quote is inaccurate) visited
with Kristoffer and Sierra Walker and Kristoffer told him, "And I figured if I were to go back to Iraq and do something again that's contrary to my belief structure, I wouldn't be able to really live with myself. . . . Obviously there's a little bit of nervousness there because it's a very real possibility, but what are the other consequences on the flip side if I decide to go back to Iraq and do something that's immoral?"

Next month, people will stand up against the war and organizations participating include The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Here's IVAW's announcement of the March action (which we are trying to note in some way each day between now and March 21st):

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or


And tonight, on the Sundance Channel, you can see the documentary FTA and/or you can purchase it on DVD (right now, but it is in stores tomorrow). David Zeiger, the director of the amazing Sir! No Sir!, explains:

FTA available Tuesday!


Broadcast Premiere
Monday, February 23, 9 pm.On the Sundance Channel

Dear Friends and supporters of Sir! No Sir!
Why did FTA disappear 37 years ago? To put it another way, why did a film featuring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland at the height of their careers, less than a year after their hugely popular film Klute (for which Jane won the Academy Award for Best Actress), suddenly get yanked from theaters after only one week?
The answer lies in the film itself, and the turmoil it revealed. 1972 was no ordinary year. It was the year of Watergate. It was the year of Nixon's horrific, relentless bombing campaign against the people of North Vietnam. And it was the year that the rebellion of soldiers and marines against the Vietnam War spread to the navy and air force. FTA is the film that reveals and revels in that rebellion in a way that no other film did then or had for 35 years, until I made Sir! No Sir!
Francine Parker, who directed FTA, swore to me a couple of years ago that Sam Arkoff, the enigmatic head of American International Pictures, which was distributing the film, told her he had received a threatening phone call from the White House-and that is why he pulled the film. Is the story true? There's no proof, but I can't think of another reasonable explanation for Sam Arkoff, a man who knew how to wring every penny out of a film, yanking one starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland from theaters at a big loss (and, apparently, destroying all of the prints, since none were ever found). And what happened after that certainly gives credence to the story.
With the yanking of FTA, the story of the GI Movement against the Vietnam War was also yanked from public view, and has since been deeply buried under a swath of myths and lies that poured out of a newly "patriotic" Hollywood in the late seventies and early eighties. Rambo was just the tip of the iceberg, as the memory of an illegal, immoral, and hideously deadly war was replaced by Ronald Reagan's declaration that "The antiwar movement betrayed our troops."
I brought back FTA because I want you to see and feel the truth. Sadly, Francine Parker died a year ago, before she could see her film finally get its due. But the film is here. Watch it, and let yourself feel the electricity of that time. More importantly, ask yourself what it is about "then" that feels like "now," that speaks directly to us today. When you listen to Donald Sutherland give his mesmerizing rendition of the soliloquy from Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun, look around you and ask yourself if anything has really changed.
And while you're doing that, enjoy the film. It's a lot of fun.
David Zeiger

Sir! No Sir! tells the long suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam. This is the story of one of the most vibrant and widespread upheavals of the 1960’s- one that had a profound impact on American society yet has been virtually obliterated from the collective memory of that time.

Click here to order FTA on DVD.

Susan notes John Pilger's "Cambodia's Missing Criminals" (Information Clearing House):

The problem with the United Nations-backed trial of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders, which has just begun in Phom Penh, is that it is dealing only with the killers of Sin Sisamouth and not with the killers of the family in Neak Long, and not with their collaborators. There were three stages of Cambodia’s holocaust. Pol Pot's genocide was but one of them, yet only it has a place in the official memory. It is highly unlikely Pot Pot would have come to power had President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, not attacked neutral Cambodia, In 1973, B-52s dropped more bombs on Cambodia’s populated heartland than were dropped on Japan during all of the Second World War: the equivalent of five Hiroshimas. Declassified files reveal that the CIA was in little doubt of the effect. "[The Khmer Rouge] are using damage caused by B52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda,” reported the director of operations on May 2, 1973. “This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of a number of young men [and] has been effective with refugees." Prior to the bombing, the Khmer Rouge had been a Maoist cult without a popular base. The bombing delivered a catalyst. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed.
Kissinger will not be in the dock in Phom Penh. He is advising President Obama on geo-politics. Neither will Margaret Thatcher, nor a number of her comfortably retired senior ministers and officials who, in secretly supporting the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese had expelled them, contributed directly to the third stage of Cambodia’s holocaust. In 1979, the US and British governments imposed a devastating embargo on stricken Cambodia because its liberators, Vietnam, had come from the wrong side of the cold war. Few Foreign Office campaigns have been as cynical or as brutal. At the UN, the British demanded that the now defunct Pol Pot regime retain the "right" to represent its victims at the UN and voted with Pol Pot in the agencies of the UN, including the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from working inside Cambodia.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: The art of india.arie" went up Sunday as did as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Al Distraction." Isaiah has another comic going up this morning.

The Kurdistan Regional Government notes a speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani:

PM's speech at inter-faith religious leaders' conference

Erbil, 17 February 2009

Speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani
at the conference to support contemporary religious sermons.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, religious scholars,

Good morning and welcome. I warmly welcome the religious scholars – Muslim, Christian, Sabae Mandaean and Yezidi – and the scholars of the Kakayie and Shabak communities, who are gathering at this conference. I am very pleased to have the chance to meet with you today. I would like to thank all of you, especially those who have traveled a long way to attend this conference. Thank you for your efforts to come here.

I very much wanted to meet with you to discuss the important issues and subjects that our people face. I would like to talk very openly and frankly so we understand each other better. We all know that, politically and in terms of security, we have tremendous challenges ahead of us. However, in addition to local elections, disputed areas, relations with Baghdad, and several other issues relevant to security aspects, there are a number of social issues that confront us as well.

We face a number of social concerns in the area of respect for human rights in general, and respect for ethnic minorities and religious freedoms. While we try to free ourselves from the effects of decades of oppression and isolation, we face several obstacles as we try to join the advanced world.

We as the people of Kurdistan have to be ready to face these challenges and overcome these obstacles; including corruption, negligence and illiteracy.

I would like to talk openly about the issues of society, religion and ethnic diversity here in the Kurdistan Region. The challenges that we have ahead of us are serious. If we allow ourselves to be divided or separated, there is no doubt that our capability to face these challenges will be diminished. And we will not be able to succeed at this delicate stage.

In each of these significant issues, the role of religion and religious leaders is vital. While we are a diverse society, the overwhelming majority of our people adhere to the Islamic faith. And many of our laws and customs find their roots in the religion of Islam. A large number of our people attend mosques regularly, and our leading religious officials have great influence throughout the region. The majority of our people try to live a life of dignity, and to rely on the high values they find in religion, humanity and society.

We in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), through the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, have taken significant steps to serve the respected religious scholars and improve their living conditions, based on their abilities. And we will continue our efforts so that the religious scholars, as they were respected in the past, will continue to be so in the future. And they will be an effective and respected layer of our community.

The provision of services to the Islamic religious clerics and the construction and rehabilitation of the holy places are clear evidence that the KRG has fulfilled the government action plan in this regard, and is still committed to its promises. Rest assured that this process will continue and will expand further.

Our efforts to uphold Islam and support the progress of Islamic education are unique in the countries of the Islamic world. It is the duty of the respectful religious scholars, in their sermons, prayer sessions and advice, to work for peaceful coexistence, the love of the homeland, and respect for each other, as called for by Islam. And not what some others, under the guise of Islam, are trying to implement, by suspect methods that create confusion in society.

Islamic guidance says love your brother as you love yourself; which means, what you see for yourself as just and good, you should see as just and good for your brother as well.

Here the meaning of ‘brother’ is a brother in religion, a fellow citizen, and somebody with whom you live. So all of us that live in the Region are brothers and cooperate with each other.

In many different eras, religious scholars in the Kurdistan Region have been the guides for honesty, sincerity and the expression of the truth. In the past, they underwent the stages of Muslim scholarship in the small learning centres of the mosques, under the guidance of Islamic scholars. They trained for their licenses. These respectful figures, without receiving anything in return, have been going to mosques and remote villages to spread the pure message of Islam: the message of peace, coexistence and tolerance.

In the era of Kurdistan’s September Revolution (from 1961 to 1975), Muslim and Christian religious scholars played a leading role in their communities. They delivered humane, patriotic, religious messages and at the same time embodied the spirit of struggle for liberation. They were always men of principle in the face of oppression and the coercion that was exercised against our people.

The Religious Scholars Union founded by the late Mustafa Barzani in the 1960s was another attempt to foster harmony among religious scholars and speak with one voice vis-à-vis religious and national issues.

At that time, you struggled and were a source of pride for your people. Now you carry the same message and are able to play your role in upholding Islam and spreading feelings of patriotism, humanity and brotherly coexistence to protecting the Kurdistan Region, freedom and the interests of our people.

During the time of the former regime, when the villages in the Kurdistan Region were being destroyed and mosques were being detonated, it was the religious scholars who took a position and courageously faced these unspeakable crimes committed against the houses of God, villages and innocent people.

After the uprising, Muslim and Christian religious scholars and others have had the same attitude and tried to convey the message of almighty God in the right way. You are a strong channel for spreading the culture of brotherhood, forgiveness, harmony and acceptance.

We hope that the entire community of religious scholars, including Imams and preachers of the mosques, in full reliance on Islam, will encourage Muslims and the entire society in the Kurdistan Region to conduct itself properly, so that each individual in this community accomplishes his duty within the framework of law and order.

Islam and other divine religions in general educate human beings and guide them so that they are faithful, honest and merciful to their own people. There is an important point that we should remember at all times. When we were suffering and facing difficulties, we were all together. The previous regime in Baghdad did not distinguish among family, tribe, religion and ethnicity in the Kurdistan Region. And we have all made sacrifices together.

The chemical weapons which were used against our people did not discriminate among Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, or among Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, or Turkmen. Or between men, women and children. Very brutally, according to a well-formulated plan, the weapons killed everyone.

When the economic conditions were very harsh, it was the same situation for all. Therefore, during the difficult, unfortunate and fateful times, we were together and we lived side by side.

We have carried the heavy burden of a difficult past together.

We are all partners in sharing a strong hope for a bright future. Today, whether we are religious, social, political, or economic leaders, we are all living in a time of which our ancestors dreamt and for which they struggled and offered sacrifices to make a reality.

Only ten years ago we were in the midst of a very difficult humanitarian catastrophe. Who would have believed then that in a short period of time the regime of Baghdad would change, Iraq would be liberated, the Kurdistan Region would be free, and we would be taking steps toward an unprecedented period in our history.

After the liberation of Iraq in 2003 large areas of the country, excluding the Kurdistan Region, became arenas for conflict and the provocation of sectarian sentiment. Afterwards, terror, suicide attacks and the killing of civilians followed.

The people of the Kurdistan Region reacted bravely and dealt with the situation. And we did not allow terrorists, the bearers of fundamentalist ideology and those who commit acts of destruction under the name of Islam, to infiltrate our society. We did not allow them to damage the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region. Christians, Sabae and Mandeans in Baghdad suffered from terror and violent crimes. Individuals of the Kurdistan Region in Kirkuk and Mosul were also terrorized and displaced.

Terrorism, suicide killings and the murdering of innocent civilians have never been a part of the culture of the people of the Kurdistan Region, Muslim people, or other believers in the Region. Those who tried their best to bring such acts into our society – acts which are against the messages of God, the holy Quran, and all divine religions – failed to do so. This is because our youth have always been wary and understood the bad intentions of those people.

Terrorists at times have managed to take advantage of some opportunities to commit bombings and suicide attacks. But relying on the help of our faithful citizens, the police, security establishment and the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region, we have managed to quickly uncover the masterminds based outside the Kurdistan Region. From now on, we must always be aware and vigilant, because Iraq and the broader region remain fertile ground for violence and there is always the possibility of recurrence.

Divine religions carry the message of peace, coexistence and tolerance. In the history of our people, there have never been any issues or conflicts between Muslims and other religions in the Kurdistan Region. On the contrary, all the believers from all the religions in the Kurdistan Region have lived together as brothers and respect each others’ beliefs. We are pleased that a large community of Christians live in the Kurdistan Region and have been here since the beginning of Christianity – long before the emergence of Islam.

The divine religion of Christianity is one of the major religions of the world today and remains continuously in dialogue with Islam. Today Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, and Armenian Christians are all citizens of the Kurdistan Region, side by side with us.

We in the Kurdistan Regional Government support the wishes of our people and we will not allow the valuable religious and social fabric of our people to be weakened or disintegrate.

The sermons of our religious clerics should be far from violence and distortion, and they should be objective and contemporary and shed light on religious and social issues under the umbrella of Islam. And in this regard the KRG Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs supports such an approach.

When I refer to a united stance, I do not mean one particular group or one political ideology or one specific religion. I refer to a group of political and religious approaches that have united for the sake of one aim: developing the Kurdistan Region. We are proud that our Region has diverse ethnicities and religions.

We have been living together for hundreds of years: Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Turkmen, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, and other components of our society. We have never allowed religious and sectarian differences to make us weak. In fact, the diversity among us became a source of strength and power in the Kurdistan Region.

When we were in the mountains during the times of resistance, we were fighting for our cause - despite the threats of death - and we were hoping for a bright future. We never asked each other where our neighbour was from and what religious background he was. What was important at that time is that we were caring for each other. When someone was in pain and needed help, we never asked him which mosque or church he attended, what his ethnic or religious background was, or from which area he came. Instead, he was offered food, clothing and shelter, and was treated as a member of the society. He was respected.

If we want to succeed while facing our challenges, we need to work for the future with the same spirit of tolerance and vision. We must not and can not allow these issues to separate us or weaken us.

It is our main task in the Region to reconstruct our villages, rebuild our service infrastructure, improve our educational and health systems, and revive our agricultural sector. Our job is to reconstruct our society and rehabilitate our economy. We may wish to help other people outside the Region, but we do not yet possess the capacity for that; nor do we find ourselves in the position of power to offer such assistance.

History is full of examples and stories about other countries and regions that have achieved tremendous progress as a result of the peaceful coexistence of different groups and religions. Today Malaysia and Singapore are good examples. Lebanon – for much of its history – and Nigeria today are also examples because of the tolerant spirit and coexistence among different groups. The Philippines also has a very diverse assortment of ethnic and religious groups.

Among other advanced countries, places like Canada, Belgium and Russia have a history of embracing different ethnicities and religions. Citizens all live peacefully together and have settled their differences. Even South Africa, after a century of brutal oppression, now has managed to build a bridge among the different racial groups and become an economic and political leader of the African continent.

Today, in the Kurdistan Region we have shown the world an example of religious and ethnic coexistence and culture, praised by other countries.

It is true that in the history of humanity there are many examples of differences, and religious and racial oppression. But examples of peaceful and tolerant coexistence are much more prevalent. If we look at history we will see that no great society in the world can be sustained if it is ruled by religious or racial oppressors.

Religious tolerance is the symbol of all civilised and successful societies. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights very clearly emphasises the fact that all nations and countries must support religious freedom and respect the rights of all people to select their religion and worship.

Therefore it is important that all of us in a position of responsibility – whether religious leaders, political or social leaders, or leaders in the fields of media, civil society or the private sector – all emphasise the shared vision for a better and a brighter future. And for all of us to stand firmly against efforts which aim at discrimination and mistrust within our society.

Therefore I turn to you today as scholars, men of true faith and worshippers of God. In order to develop and encourage tolerance, coexistence and ethnic and religious harmony, let us remember that there is no conflict between being a good Muslim and being a good neighbour.

We can achieve prosperity in the future through respect for our past.

We can firmly sustain and preserve our historical and cultural heritage while we embrace concepts of modern society and freedom. At the same time we can respect our religious commitment and respect the religious commitments of those who worship differently.

Distinguished guests,

The important idea is that worshipping God unites us all. We believe in freedom of religious ceremonies for all faiths. And therefore we must accept each other as we are, because citizenship unites us all in the homeland. And accepting each other, respecting each other, and respecting national, human and religious values are key preconditions for coexistence.

We should not allow and we will not allow any group, in the name of religion, to use violence against another group. Holding this conference is a wise step and comes at the right time. The Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs fulfills its national and religious duty in order to put forth valuable research and exchanges of views for the sake of modern, religious sermons; and to further serve the citizens of the Kurdistan Region from the pulpits of the mosques.

Distinguished clerics,

As you know, there was recently a broad international dialogue among the religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in New York. This was the initiative of His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia. These efforts are appreciated. As there is a dialogue among the major religions, there should be dialogue and understanding within the religions. Members of the sects of Islam should accept each other as they are, and should accept each other’s rituals and ceremonies. And within the religions and the composition of the Kurdistan Region in general, brotherly dialogue and understanding should spread even further.

We hope that this strong structure that has been in place for hundreds of years will continue to exist and strengthen the relations between different ethnicities and religions. And we hope that our religious clerics will teach coming generations about each other and about acceptance, tolerance and respect for one another.

We in the government of the Kurdistan Region will continue to support the efforts of the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs for further service to the religious clerics. We also support the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs as it publishes and disseminates books and pamphlets that combine national and religious sentiments.

Based on our capability, we will be cooperative in striving to employ the graduates of the Islamic colleges and institutes, according to demand, as preachers, clerics and teachers in religious schools. We will also continue to support the Christian religious clerics and the other religious groups. And we will provide a conducive atmosphere for students.

Finally, I would like to wish you success in this conference. I hope your research will serve as both a foundation and a further incentive to expand the religious and ethnic harmony in the Kurdistan Region.

Thank you.

See also the press release on the conference to support contemporary religious sermons.

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