July 10, 2020
The Ministry of Health in Iraqi Kurdistan warned of a health disaster on July 9 as thousands of Iranian dervishes stormed a border checkpoint and illegally entered the territory without having medical examinations. It called on the Ministry of Interior to intervene immediately to return the migrants to where they had traveled from, stating that they had entered Kurdistan illegally.
In an exclusive statement given to IranWire, the ministry spokesman Muhammad Qadir said the migrants should be dealt with as if they were all infected with COVID-19, indicating that if even if one of them had the virus, it could be transmitted to everyone in the group and beyond.
Qadir added that the Ministry of Health would be unable to control the situation on its own, and that the Ministry of Interior should prevent the dervishes from arriving in the city of Sulaymaniyah.
The Iranian dervishes are a class of Sufis that follow the Kasnazani order, which is attributed to Sheikh Muhammad Al-Kasnazani, who died on July 9 and was due to be buried the same afternoon in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq.
The Iranian dervishes, many of them armed with large knives and other weapons, stormed a checkpoint at the Bashmakh border crossing with Iran and entered Iraqi territory to attend the funeral and burial. Shortly after the dervishes crossed on July 9, the Kurdistan Regional Government closed the Bashmakh border.