The staff of a play were detained for 24 hours by decision of the Garmian Court, in connection with the performance of a play three years ago.
The play is adapted from a poetic text by the poet Qubad Jalilzadeh entitled “Let’s Be Dogs”, with some changes made to the text.
The play was shown for the first time as part of the theatrical season in Garmian of Sulaymaniyah Northern Province in February 2020, after obtaining approval from the General Directorate of Culture and Arts in Garmian.
However, after the protests of the Union of (Muslim) Religious Scholars escalated, the theatrical troupe (the Stars Troupe) was frozen and its activities were halted by the Minister of Culture of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.
On Tuesday, September 27th, the crew were arrested per a judge’s decision and released after 24 hours.
The idea of the play is taken from a poetic text by the poet Qubad Jalilzadeh, and it criticizes the bad conditions of the Kurdish individual in this era in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR under the Kurdish local authority (KRG).
Omar Abdullah (director), Sherko Omar – a writer reviewed the script -, and Muhammad Ali, an actor in the play, were arrested in Kalar Prison, according to Mahdi Raza, Omar’s colleague.
"We visited them in prison. They treated them with appreciation and were in good condition. They asked us to bring books for them, so we took them to them," Raza said.
The Union of Religious Scholars filed a lawsuit against the play under the pretext of defaming religious scholars
"The Union of Religious Scholars filed a lawsuit against the play under the pretext of defaming religious scholars. Several sessions have been held in court so far, and yesterday, Tuesday, the judge issued an arrest warrant against them based on public law," he added.
On February 24, 2020 - two days after the play was shown - the Union of Religious Scholars sent a protest note to the Minister of Culture and Youth against the backdrop of the play’s presentation, which stated, “Great abuse and lack of respect were directed against Mosque podium, mosques, and clerics, in addition to insulting the sacred legal and religious provisions of Islam.”
In addition to denouncing the presentation of the play, the Union of Religious Scholars called on the Minister of Culture to hold them accountable.
The next day, the Minister of Culture and Youth issued a ministerial order suspending all activities of the Stars Theater Troupe and freezing the troupe.
The General Directorate of Culture in Garmian also froze the band for a year and indicated that “any band and person who insults the sanctities of citizens will take the same measures against them, and if the matter is repeated, more severe measures will be taken.”
Shako Omar, who reviewed the text of the play, is a resident of Kirkuk and a graduate of the theater department. He also worked for a period in the field of media.