PMF militants forcibly shave Kaka'i peshmerga member's moustache
Members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) humiliated a Kaka'i (Yarsani) peshmerga member in the Amerli district of Salahaddin province by forcibly shaving his moustache and hair on Saturday, Kaka'i figures and Kurdish officials said.
Kaka'i are followers of one of the oldest religions in the West Asian region, amounting to between 110,000 and 200,000 in Iraq and mainly situated in the southeast of Kirkuk and Ninevah, with others also based in Diyala, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah. They are Kurdish in ethnicity and speak a dialect known as Macho, although some are also Arabic-speaking.
Kaka'i men are distinguished with their big moustaches and shaving moustaches is considered a sin in Yarsanism.
"Today a group within the PMF attacked Peshmerga Ayman Abdi Jassim, a Peshmerga of the 9th Infantry Brigade of the Ministry of Peshmerga far from any customs or laws. This Shia militia group has insulted the Peshmerga in a very ugly way," the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ministry of peshmerga affairs said in an announcement on Saturday.
"We declare that this action is not acceptable, and we call on the Kirkuk security forces to immediately form an investigation commission and to arrest whoever did this inappropriate act," the announcement added.
Members of the Kaka'i community held a demonstration late Saturday and called on Kirkuk's security forces to arrest the perpetrators or else they would take matters into their own hands.
Jassim, 38, a Kaka'i resident of Kirkuk, told local media outlets that the militants beat and humiliated him.
Hashd al-Shaabi militias in Amerli region of Salahadin province have beaten and insulted the Kakaye’s of this region, who are Kurds that follow Yarsan religion.— Suhad Talabany (@TalabanySuhad) July 23, 2022
Elders of this region have asked the Iraqi government to stop the threats and insults of these militants against them. pic.twitter.com/Bvt0Bk7oz2
"We have asked Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the supreme religious authority in the eyes of millions of Shia Muslims in Iraq, [and] Hadi Al-Amiri, the Secretary General of Badr Organisation, to hand over the perpetrators, who are affiliated with the Turkmen branch within the PMF, to the Iraqi judiciary," Zyad Kakai, a figure within the community and an organiser of the demonstration told The New Arab in a phone interview.
"The incident occurred after a verbal fight between Ayman and some members in the PMF who then abducted Ayman, beat him and humiliated him by shaving his moustache and hair. We wished they had killed him, but not shaved his moustache since the moustache is a symbol for the Kaka'i and by shaving Ayman's moustache they have assaulted all the Kaka'i people, not only one man," the organiser added.
TNA contacted Amir Nuri Shwani, spokesperson of Kirkuk police, but he was not available to comment.
The general board of the Kurdistani territories outside the KRG warned that such incidents are "against coexistence and dignity of the minorities" in the constitutionally disputed areas between the KRG and the federal Iraqi government. The board also offered legal consultation to the Kaka'i peshmarga member and requested the Iraqi authorities bring the perpetrators to justice.
"We strongly condemn the illegal act committed by several members affiliated with the PMF against a Kurdish member of the Peshmerga. What the Peshmerga member was subjected to represents an insult and a lack of respect for freedoms, beliefs and coexistence. We affirm our support for our Kaka'i sisters and brothers," Masoud Barzani, the head of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said in a statement.
The Kaka'i community in Iraq have faced numerous attacks by the Islamic State (IS) militants in the past years and is often vulnerable to the sectarian tensions within the country.