For Charles Lingerfelt, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the people who live there, have a special place in his heart. The Dallas-area businessman, who has also announced plans to run for Dallas County Treasurer next year, has made 14 trips to the region since 2006 on various civic and educational projects, and developed strong ties with its people, the Kurdish Regional Government, its military leaders, and members of the Kurdish education system. His work with the Kurds is one of the reasons why Lingerfelt is traveling to Oslo as a keynote speaker at the Kurdistan International Liberal Congress conference.
The objective of the Congress is to bring attention to the social and political challenges Kurds in northern Iraq face, as well as establish networks with Kurdish communities in Europe. Kurds from Iraq, Iran, Asia, Europe, and North America will be in attendance.
Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, Kurds in Iraq suffered greatly as part of an ongoing war with his Arab-controlled government. In 1987, Lingerfelt met members of the Iraqi Kurdish community and learned of their plight. It would be years before he could do anything about it first-hand, however. The War in Iraq and the toppling of Hussein’s rule finally brought some autonomy to the region, and in 2006 Lingerfelt and his friend Don English helped establish the Kurdish American School with 81 students. He even taught several classes while there, including English and Western democracy.
It is Lingerfelt’s commitment to democracy and education that led Kurdish leaders to ask him to attend the Congress and speak to the hundreds of attendees. Arif Bawecani, one of the organizers of the Congress, helped found the Kurdish school Lingerfelt worked with during his time there, and extended the invitation to speak at the event.
While there, Lingerfelt will meet with Iranian nationals to pursue a meeting with political leaders in Tehran about the possibility of the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in jail in Iran for preaching the Christian faith. The jail where Abedini is being held is known for being the worst prison in Iran, and his supporters fear for his life. It is hoped that a meeting will be secured in Tehran after the first of the year for talks on the release of Pastor Saeed and his return to America and his family.
“The meeting for me is of extreme importance to me, because of the respect I have for the people of Iraq and Iran, and the respect they have for me,” Lingerfelt said.
A fund has been established to cover expenses for Lingerfelt’s trip to the conference, as well as costs for a possible trip to Iran. For more information, contact Mr. Lingerfelt at 972.533.3804.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to receive a weekly email update from WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE link here or at the top of this page.