James Carroll visits Passion 4 Food to sample the authentic food and learn about the international crossfire affecting Kurdistan.
Along Clanbrassil Street Lower at number 27A, I stopped by Passion 4 Food for a bite to eat but also to get a taste of the cultural Middle Eastern area that is nestled in the middle of Dublin 8.
Open seven years and upon my friendly welcome, I am reliably informed that the restaurant has been voted as having “the best kebab in Dublin for three years running.”
Owned by two men from Kurdistan, it also has six Kurdish members of staff.
Peek into the world of Passion 4 Food below.
The Kurdistan background
The Kurds are one of the indigenous people of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in what are now south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.
Today they form a distinctive community, united through race, culture and language, even though they have no dialect. They also adhere to a number of different religions, although the majority are Sunni Muslims.
I was informed that a Kurdistan native who was also a customer and a friend of the owner was willing to talk about his country but wished to remain anonymous.
Living in Ireland since 2001, he fled Iraq because he was left with little choice.
“Basically at the time Saddam was in power, I had two choices. To join the army or become a Kurdish fighter and fight Saddam. I didn’t like any of them so I came to Europe to find a different life.”
He is from the Kuroko area of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq which currently is controlled by the the so-called Islamic State.
Amnesty produced their annual report on the state of every country,
In areas under its control, IS fighters carried out execution-style killings of perceived opponents and those suspected of collaborating with government forces. They also carried out abductions, and tortured captives. They also imposed a draconian code of conduct which restricted the use of telephones and the internet. Civilians were used as human shields and they recruited young boys and many were used in suicide attacks.
“They are not real, they are not real Muslim, the Quran never say bad things, these people, they brainwash people for politics. It is all about money, politics and power of the Middle East between Iran, Russia, America and Turkey,” he said.
He commented on Turkey, “President Erdogan is the person who created Isis. Now he is turning his back on Isis because he knows now they are done, finished.”
After the attempted coup last year, Amnesty International reported that violations and armed force was used by the army in the southeast region of Turkey, which is predominatnly where many Kurds live.
“If Turkey could have their way, the Kurds would either be extinguished or they would be under the ruling of Turkey with no rights, no status and no nothing,” he says.
His gets emotional when explaining their culture and languages. “It same with what the English did with Irish, cultures. They tried many times with Kurdish but we don’t want this, we want independence and a flag.”
“We are different people and we have our own cultures, we speak Zorani, we also speak Turkish, Arabic and Persian.”
While Erdogan has approved a reform bill that would greatly enhance his powers of office, this does not sit well with him.
“Above all of the struggles, the wars and oppression in Passion 4 Food, you will find that the Kurds are the most friendly and charismatic people you might encounter.”
“The Turkish government parliament buildings they normally use is no more. Trying to make himself very famous in history of Turkey. But there is a question? Can he do it? Can he finish it?”
When he watches the news from home on the television and the word through the phone sometimes is tough to digest, “of course, every time we are in touch with them, the Kurdish channels, our families are still there, everybody is still there.”
The most significant development that has come out of his time in Ireland is gaining citizenship and a passport.
“The passport and the status, means everything to us. They accept me, they give me a passport and a status. I am allowed like you, to go to Europe.”
I asked his thoughts on the executive order that was imposed by Donald Trump to include seven countries including Iraq and Syria.
Although the ban is not currently being enforced because of several court challenges to its legality.
“It made me feel bad but in Kurdistan, there might be more than 30,000 Americans living there with companies, they took our oil, so why are they allowed to come into my country and why am I not allowed in theirs?”
With over a population of over 28 million, split between Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, why is it that Kurdistan is not high up on the international news agenda?
Russia is a country that we should worry about, not only on the world stage but also in the politics of Kurdistan,
“If you are on the Russians side, the Americans will screw you, and if you are on the Americans side, Russia will screw you.”
“There are 20 Kurdish political parties,” he says. He goes on to explain that Kurdish parties are caught in an international crossfire, with some in support of Iran, while others are with Russia or America, and so on.
It seems highly unlikely with the changing political situation in Turkey, Iran and America, plus with the troubles in Iraq and Syria, independence will be tough to achieve for the Kurds.
Above all of the struggles, the wars and oppression in Passion 4 Food, you will find that the Kurds are the most friendly and charismatic people you might encounter. They want to be recognized as a nation with their own flag just like Ireland.
If you want genuine authentic food that is from the Middle East, you will not be disappointed. Vegetarians need not be concerned as they also cater for you.
However, it is the atmosphere that makes visiting Passion 4 Food a memorable experience. The buzz that is cultivated by the entire staff is fantastic. Everything is cooked with a smile and an interest in your day. Customer service is lacking in many outlets nowadays yet it is certainly thriving in Passion 4 Food.