by Hani al-Gamal – Cairo
Repeated Turkish state aggression against Kurds in northern Syria and in other places has brought the Kurdish issue to the fore. In Egypt, Kurds have been part of society for a long time. There is a lack of clarity on the exact date the Kurds began settling in Egypt but some sources suggest that the Kurds have settled in this Arab country since the 14th century BC.
Other accounts have suggested that the Kurds began settling after the Islamic conquest of Kurdistan. The Kurds have been effectively contributing to Egyptian civilization since then, especially after Saladin, a Kurd, took over the reins of power in Egypt. Although Kurds have integrated into Egyptian society over the centuries, they still preserve their unique culture and distinguished traditions.
Keeping traditions alive
Haval Zahreddine Mohamed is one of the many Kurds who lives in Egypt. Originally from the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, Haval arrived in Egypt in 1992 with his father and other members of his family. He learnt embroidery from his father and elder brother. Since then, he has been earning a living, producing embroidered clothes. Haval spent years studying Egyptian fashions. He now has his own brand, which is called “Media”.
He produces embroidered clothes, some of them made for export to other countries. “I have moved a long way, modernizing the profession I inherited from my brother and my father”, Haval told MedyaNews. Haval established a factory in Obour City, an industrial, residential new urban community in northeastern Cairo. Most of the products produced at Haval’s factory are handmade. He also makes use of modern equipment to manufacture attractive outfits for local and foreign markets.
Kurds in Egypt
When Haval arrived in Egypt in the company of his other family members, there were so many Kurdish families in this Arab country already. “Some of the villages in Egypt also had Kurdish names”, he said. “Egyptians constructed mausoleums for Kurdish religious figures”. Most of the Kurds, some of them from the northern Syrian city of Afrin, were here for study at Egyptian universities, al-Azhar University in particular. Some of the Kurds Haval met also came from Iraq. Haval married a Syrian woman who hailed from Aleppo. They now have three children.
Haval and his family members continue to wear traditional Kurdish outfits, especially at home. He and his children, he said, have inherited these traditions from his parents and grandparents. “My wife also wears traditional female dresses”, he said. Haval, his wife and children also speak Kurdish wherever they go. “We keep the language alive by speaking it all the time”, he said.