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In early May a young Kurdish woman plunged to her death from the Tara hotel in the city of Mahabad, western Iran.In the 57 years since a short-lived Kurdish republic was established in Mahabad with the help of the Soviet Union, the Kurds have lived through many challenges in Iran and elsewhere.Linguistically and culturally, the Kurds are closer to Persians and other Iranians than to Arabs or Turks.Delivering to the Kurds is a particular challenge, not least because of a widespread belief among Persians that the Kurds are unruly if not barbaric.Iran is a Shiite republic, but other than many Kurds in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces, most Iranian Kurds are Sunni.However, unlike Turkey, where the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic party will contest parliamentary elections in June, all Kurdish parties are illegal in Iran.The main party of the 1980s, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), calls for a federal Iran and broadly follows the pluralism of its former leader, Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou, who was killed in Vienna in 1989, possibly by Iranian agents.There are more likely suspects than the Kurds.Governments in Iran long asserted the inclusive nature of the Iranian identity.
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