The image of the Stranger in Literature as a Route to peace:
Images of peace and acceptance in classis and modern Kurdish literature.
Whether we accepted or not, in the part of the world where we come from, we are faced with some powerful and undisputed dogmas. These dogmas have replaced facts and reasoning and have become dominated norms of society, that have influenced the mentality of people in a way that breaking these (dogmas) means going against the known norms.
Yet we have many examples of writers in old and modern times who have gone against all odds even when regarded as strangers in some ways.
In old times the classic Kurdish poet Feqiyê Teyran (1590-1660) who was also a Prince of Hakkari was regarded as an odd but in some sense a wise person who could understand and even speak the language of birds. He was using the idea of passing birds' messages in order to get his own messages across freely, which were in most cases against then known norms. His masterpiece 'Þêxê Sen'an' is about a committed religious sheikh who had about 500 sofie students or followers, teaching them the warship of God through the Islamic doctrine.
Once the Sheikh and his followers were on their way to pilgrimage to Mecca, they stopped at a Christian town ruled by Georgians. The Sheikh and his 500 followers stay there for some times. One day while he was walking in a garden, he saw the daughter of the Christian ruler of the city. He immediately fell in love with her and proposes to her. Her precondition to accept him was to abandon Islam and become a Christian. The Sheikh gave up what he stood for during a lifelong, and not only became a Christian, but became a shepherd of their pigs too.
The message of Feqê Teyran of going against the norms and following his path to peace and acceptance in such a society could only be delivered through the language of birds.
Faqe teyran could then get away from been stigmatized or being punished but may be in today's our parts of the world is more difficult to be saved from punishment as there are too many established dogmas in our region. Not adopting these norms is regarded as strangeness which sometimes could result in paying heavy sacrifices including losing one's life. The theocratic regime of Iran, fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and some established traditional authorities have used these dogmas knowingly and deliberately against rationalism, critical approach and creativity.
A stranger within this framework is a pioneer who stands against these dogmas, who is steps ahead of his or her time.
In old times Feqe Teyran who was a prince, a poet and a writer could survive and his writings ever live yet in our modern times the dreams of writers and potential writers are executed before they were.
Farzad Kamangar a teacher and a writer who had a dream of peace was executed last year by the Iranian regime because according to them he was against the set of rules by wanting to teach Kurdish children in their own mother tongue. He was treated as an outsider and a danger to society because he challenged the established norms of the regime. He lost his life, but his dream of peace is shared by many who continue to challenge the established norms. Sufi
Nowadays, may be the writings of the great contemporary Kurdish poet Sherko Bekes are not far from being strange yet very much accepted in some parts of our regions. In his master piece Milwanke ( The Necklace) who's characters are a number of necklaces, tweezers, watches, pens, eye glasses, etc which are going through a life similar to human life full of love, hatred, war, torture and full of contradictions. The necklaces have women feelings, the watch with a shiny golden strip is a very macho man, the tweezers is a womanizer, one pen is a lover, an eye glass is a cheater while other figures are torturers or traditional fundamental family heads who practice their authority on women under their control.
In this poetic story few of these necklaces refuse to deny their origin under torture and continue declaring they are pearls rather than being any other beads.
In this work Sherko Bekes is going against all odds, criticizing many many features in society and although he is regarded as a stranger by some, yet he could survive and in fact paving the way to peace by refusing ugly norms in society.
I cannot imagine that Sherko Bekas and his necklaces would not face heavy consequences had they lived in the other side of the border, in Turkey, for if Kurdish children In Turkey, even today, at the start of lessons every day at school, who are obliged to repeat over the obligatory phrase ”How proud we are to be Turks”, immediately being deprived of their identity, if they refuse to say it they would face heavy consequences, such as being deprived from education if not of course been accused of being a member of a terrorist group and face imprisonment.
To conclude I say that the path to peace might be distant and far reaching yet achievable for as long as there will be people, mainly writers who will go against the odds and pave the way to peace even if they are regarded as strangers of some sort.