BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:35 A.M.) – Residents of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaymaniyah (Slemani) paid their respects to the Kurdish leader and former Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, who has died at the age of 83 in Germany, Tuesday.
Among the mourners were attendees of the Sulaymaniyah International Film Festival, which is presently taking place in the city. One mourner said that the film festival participants were “very sorry and shocked by the passing of Mam Jalal, a great leader and pacifist,” before adding that the festival organisers decided to “halt the activity of the film festival.”
Another mourner expressed that “it is a very sad moment today for the Iraqi people” and that “we are in a great sorrow and each Kurd knows him as pacifist who sacrificed himself for Kurdistan and the Iraqi people.”
Talabani was an Iraqi Kurdish politician who served as the sixth Iraqi President from 2005 to 2014. He founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in 1975 and became the first non-Arab president of Iraq two years after Saddam Hussein was ousted. Talabani stepped down two years after suffering a stroke that led him to seek medical treatment in Germany.
His death comes less than a week after the Kurds of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly for independence. The independence referendum drew strong criticism and opposition by Baghdad, Iran and Turkey.