Two Signs Provoke Controversy at Kirkuk University

February 4, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Kirkuk 2018: Difference between a sign in Arabic and its counterpart written in 4 languages. Photo: KirkukNow

Firas al-Hamdani

“Different ethnicities study in the university, it is better to placed signs in Kirkuk’s different languages, and all should be deemed equally.” This was Ja’far Najim, a 23 years old student at Kirkuk University said commenting on 2 college signs written in one language at Kirkuk University.

Vana Abudullah, a 20-years old student, said: “the sign had different reactions” and she wished the “university to be only for education and not to intervene politics.”

“Kirkuk belongs to all its people and it is the property of none.” Ahmed Attiya, a 21-years old student who asked to reconsider these signs.

These tow colleges’ signs written in one language at Kirkuk University caused controversy as a repercussion of Iraqi Forces taking over the displaced areas politics post October 16, 2017. An Iraqi MP considered this act a constitutional violation whereas Kirkuk University Presidency confirmed that these new signs are identifiers for directions and ensured that there is a sign written in 4 languages.

Shwan Karkuki, a Kirkuk MP and senior leader in Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told KirkukNow: “the photos published in social media platforms showed the intentional use of Arabic language in the new signs of College of Arts and College of Economic and Administration and this is considered as constitutional and legal violation because Arabic and Kurdish are formal languages.”

He also expressed his intention to “register a protest to the parliament presidency and Ministry of Higher Education about this matter.”

This incident comes after the redeployment of Iraqi Forces in Kirkuk province on October 16, 2017 and Peshmerga withdrawal from the disputed areas..

Media Director of the university’s presidency, Dr. Ma’d Assi, rejected replacing these new signs instead of the main ones and ensured these new signs are only “on campus”, while the off-campus ones are written in 4-languages as stated by law in the province.

In 2008 Kirkuk provisional administration decided to write governmental signs in 4 languages: Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmen and Assyrian as a preliminary procedure towards peaceful coexistence.

Dr. Omran Jamal, College of Arts dean, said: “we did not change the main signs, and we have two of them in front of the college written in 4 languages, but we just placed another one only to show directions and we have pictures you can publish to verify that.”

KirkukNow visited the two colleges in Kirkuk city and found that the sign written in Arabic on to of College of Art’s building is bigger in size and clearer than its counterpart that is written in 4 languages on the college’s outer wall.

Najib Ahmed, College of Economics and Administration dean, told KirkukNow: “we basically renewed the main signs on the top of our building which is written in 4 languages and you [KirkukNow] can visit and see it, and we also placed another one in Arabic only to show directions.” He added saying: “the sign written in 4 languages has words in small font so we placed another one in a language understood by all so the words would be concise and big to show directions keeping the one with the 4 languages as the main sign.”

Kirkuk 2018: A sign in Arabic bigger in size than its 4-languages counterpart placed on the building of College of Economic and Administration-Kirkuk University. Photo: KirkukNow

In College of Economics and Administration the sign in Arabic is placed on top of the main gate. It is double in size the sign written in 4 languages placed on top of the top of the college’s building and this is as observed by KirkukNow team.

27 security and administrative posts assigned for Kurds were reallocated post-October 16, 2017 and the return of Iraqi Forces to Kirkuk province and Peshmerga withdrawal.

Kirkuk provisional administration decided to write all governmental sign in 4 languages in the province starting from January 2018 to encourage coexistence among all its different components.

KirkukNow acquired a copy of a statement issued by the Supreme Federal Court where Kirkuk provisional council asked the court to clarify the meaning of “population density” to know the languages used for signs of governmental building in Turkmen and Assyrian, as well as Arabic and Kurdish.

The Federal Court statement said: “the verdict confirmed that population density does not necessarily mean population majority, thus there is a possibility to write signs of governmental offices in the province center and sub-districts in Arabic or Kurdish or Turkmen or Assyrian languages.

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