Shafaq News/ In Iraq, a country burdened with traumatic events, rare bright scenes were exchanged between Al-Fallujah -one of the largest Sunni Arab cities, and Kurdistan –the shelter of hundreds of thousands of people, displaced from what is known as the "city of mosques".. Kurdistan planted a lot of memories and passion between the displaced Arabs and the Kurds.
After hosting the displaced in the cities of Kurdistan for nearly three years -particularly Al-Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, and Shaqlawa; the impact on Al-Fallujah's residents was very evident in the signs of shops, food, and crafts, as well as the names of their newborn. They also started naming their children Shawan, Aso, Shehin, and other Kurdish names.
Of to 700,000 people, more than half a million have settled in the towns of Shaqlawa, Rania, Harir, and various areas in Erbil and Al-Sulaymaniyah.. They have settled in private homes or camps built by Kurdistan’s authorities -in cooperation with international organizations.
Al-Fallujah’s residents say that during their displacement -despite the bitterness and suffering, they found a lot of aid and countless humanitarian attitudes; it is now a good memory, with which they returned home.
Mohammed Al-Dulaimi, a 49-year-old teacher from Al-Fallujah, fled to Shaqlawa after ISIS occupied Al-Fallujah in early 2014. He told Shafaq News agency that he had moved between several houses during his two years in Shaqlawa and that he, his wife, and children had many Kurdish friends -with whom they are still in touch, “We invited them to visit Al-Fallujah, to return part of the favor they had granted us during our time of need”.
"We never felt homesick, and now we miss Shaqlawa’s winter, the elderly who are more fluent in Arabic than the young people there, the places of reading in mosques, and the women who bake chips of bread every Friday”, Mohammed added.
It is not just about mutual human emotion.. Mohammed Hammad told Shafaq News agency, “After returning home, I changed the name of my shop to Sarchinar (The name of a tourist area in Al-Sulaymaniyah) to be faithful to what they had given us during the ordeal of displacement”.
"We lived beautiful days in Erbil. Despite the pain we were experiencing watching the destruction of our city on television, the people there did not treat us as strangers, and unlike what the displaced people in other cities in Iraq were suffering; we found help from everyone, and they shared everything they could share with us”, Hammad added.
Qahtan Muhsin has a construction shop in Al-Fallujah. He called his shop "Shaqlawa", in honor of the shop owner he worked for in Erbil, "I can't forget what he gave me during the period of displacement”.
On the other hand, this Kurdish hosting of their Arab brothers has been reflected in the emergence of new family ties. Lawyer Omar Khalid told Shafaq News agency that the displacement period has resulted in several marriages between Al-Fallujah’s Arab citizens and Kurdistan’s Kurds.
"The repercussions of the years Al-Fallujah’s residents spent in Kurdistan have been positive after they returned.. Especially since about 70% of Al-Fallujah’s residents have resided in Kurdistan -specifically Erbil and Al-Sulaymaniyah”, Khalid added.
Shafaq News agency learned about another story..A young man named Honer -a well-known resident of Erbil, married a girl from Al-Fallujah and moved -after the liberation of the city by the Iraqi forces, to live with his wife, where he found a job that earned him a good income, "The people here in Al-Fallujah treat me very gratefully, and see this as a tribute to the good treatment they found in Kurdistan. Thankfully, now I have many Arab friends in Al-Fallujah and elsewhere”.
This humanitarian brotherhood has blossomed between the Kurds and AL-Fallujah’s people.. Ali Al-Dulaimi, representative of the Kaku Travel and Tourism Company in Al-Anbar, told Shafaq News agency, “most of the tourists I transport from Al-Anbar to Kurdistan are residents of Al-Fallujah. When they arrive, they immediately visit the Kurdish friends they made during the displacement period”.
Hundreds of Al-Anbar’s residents sold their homes and bought new ones in Kurdistan.
These stories of Kurds and Al-Fallujah’s Arabs, carry many illuminating symbolic meanings in a country where the news are often painful and sad.. Especially since these human ties came in the darkest circumstances Kurdistan and Iraq, in general, were going through; in the face of widespread death and religious, ethnic, and sectarian discrimination brought in with ISIS.