'Iraq's Donald Trump' caught in Kurdish race row

'Iraq's Donald Trump' caught in Kurdish race row
Blog: Iraq's controversial anti-Kurdish MP Hanan Fatlawi has praised an Egyptian professor who appeared in a viral video removing a Kurdish flag during a thesis presentation.
2 min read
15 Jan, 2016
Incorporated forcibly into other nation-states, the people of historic Kurdistan yearn for self-determination [AFP]
Iraq's Hanan Fatlawi has already been compared to US presidential hopeful Donald Trump for her controversial and politically incorrect outbursts.

The MP was a key ally of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but has since formed her own political party under the name Irada, which means "will" in Arabic.

Facebooking on Tuesday, she uploaded a video of Dr Sharif al-Labban, an Egyptian professor at Mansura University, in which he appears to force a Kurdish researcher to remove Kurdistan's flag on display during a thesis presentation.

Sharif is recorded telling the Kurdish man: "We will not allow the division of Iraq," and "You are not a country to raise a flag. You are part of Iraq."

The video received more than 50,000 comments, and more than one million views within a day.

Fatlawi praised Sharif: "I wish there was someone in our government who had the guts of this Egyptian professor, when Barzani dared to dig a trench to invade a third of Iraq."

Fatlawi was referring to the gully around Kirkuk city, which was dug by Peshmerga forces to protect civilians and the Kurdistan Region from Islamic State group attacks. 

However, Shereen Fuad Masum, the daughter of Iraq's President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, had a different view.

"I don't see a chauvinist Kurdish student, but a human being proud of his knowledge and ethnicity. Sometimes flags mark ethnicities, and not necessarily countries."

She continued: "Scotland and Wales have their own flag, but that doesn't mean they are not part of United Kingdom."

Fatlawi, however, is not one to back down. She responded: "You are sick with a chronic sickness called Kurdish racism. It regrettable that these words have come from the daughter of the president of Iraq."

In 2014, a video was leaked in which Fatlawi appears to declare "the Kurds are our enemies". She has repeatedly accused Kurds of wanting to weaken the Iraqi state.

Fatlawi has done little to ease relations between Kurds and other citizens of Iraq. 

Instead, critics say, she has capitalised on public sectarian sentiment to boost her political profile, similar to the manner in which Donald Trump has capitalised on media-stoked public fears of Muslims.