Lebanon


Lebanon
   The Kurdish presence in Lebanon harks back to the 12th century, when the Ayyubids arrived. In the following centuries several other Kurdish groups followed, often as a result of deportation policies pursued by such authorities as the Ottomans. In time, these Kurdish groups were completely assimilated. The Jumblats—who became Druze leaders — are a well-known example. Others include the Sayfa in Tripoli, the Mirbi in Akkar, the Imads of Mount Lebanon, and the Hamiyya in Baalbeck.
   There are approximately 75,000-100,000 Kurds presently living in Lebanon, the result of several waves of immigration that occurred after World War I. The first group came from the Mardin/Tor Abdin area of Turkey, where it was fleeing the violence prevalent in the 1920s. A second wave of immigrants fled Syria following the severe repression that began there in 1958. More Turkish Kurds also arrived after World War II. Taken as a whole, the Lebanese Kurds constitute the second largest non-Arab group in Lebanon. Only the Armenians are larger.
   All of the Lebanese Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but they are divided into numerous tribal and communal groups linked to their villages or regions of origin. They also suffer from having most of their numbers denied Lebanese citizenship. Given their lack of any appreciable political power, most of the Kurds in Lebanon belong to the lower socioeconomic class and suffered considerably during the Lebanese civil war that waged from 1975 until 1991.
   The Lebanese Kurds were often the victims of contempt, hatred, ridicule, and violence. As noncitizens, their property rights were restricted. They did not enjoy the equal protection of the laws, were denied the right of voting, and were excluded from public office. Recently, however, the Lebanese Kurds increasingly have begun to win citizenship and improve their status. Abdul Karim Meho, a Lebanese Kurdish leader, stated in 2008 that 80 percent of the Lebanese Kurds held Lebanese nationality. He estimated the current Kurdish population in Lebanon as being 150,000 but admitted that it was divided.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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