Rekindling the Flame: Zoroastrianism in Iraqi Kurdistan
This article examines the emergence of Zoroastrianism in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since 2015 as a new religion inspired by Kurdish nationalism, feminism, ecologism and humanism. The author argues that the emergence of Zoroastrianism at this particular time is due to a combination of the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in 2014, legislative change and the importance some Kurdish nationalists historically attached to Zoroastrianism as the suggested original religion of the Kurds. The article outlines the historical context of Zoroastrianism in Kurdistan, and then explores the origins, beliefs and organisational structure of Kurdish Zoroastrianism. Also discussed are the legislative changes enabling the rise of the movement since 2015. This study draws on interviews with Kurdish Zoroastrian leaders as well as with representatives from the World Zoroastrian Organization, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs and the Alliance of Iraqi Minorities.