|Christianity (Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy)|
|mainly Kurdish (Sorani, Kirmanji, Palewani)|
The early history of Christianity in Kurdistan closely parallels that of the rest of Anatolia and Mesopotamia. According to a legend, Mar Saba succeeded in converting some "sun-worshipping" Kurds to Christianity in the fifth century.
Majority of Kurds adopted Islam after the Arab conquest of the Sasanian Empire but their faith sat lightly on them, it was not until the Ottoman Turks, who, with considerable political acumen, saw the sole means by which they could attach the Kurds to themselves was through their religion, and did everything possible to promote Islam amongst them. However, there were Kurdish converts to Christianity even after the spread of Islam. In the ninth century, a Kurd named Nasr or Narseh converted to Christianity, and changed his name to Theophobos during the reign of Emperor Theophilus and was the emperor's intimate friend and commander for many years. During the same period, the Kurdish prince Ibn ad-Dahhak, who possessed the fortress of al-Jafary, abandoned Islam for Orthodox Christianity. In return, the Byzantines gave him land and a fortress. In 927, he and his family was executed during a raid by Thamal, the Arab governor of Tarsus.
The Armenian family of the Zakarids, whose ancestors were Christianized Kurds, ruled parts of northern Armenia in the 13th century AD and tried to reinvigorate intellectual activities by founding new monasteries. At the peak of Kingdom of Georgia the family led the unified Armeno-Georgian army. Two brothers of this family, Zakare and Ivane led the army to victory in Ani in 1199.
Kurds who converted to Christianity usually turned to the Nestorian Church. In 1884, researchers of the Royal Geographical Society reported about a Kurdish tribe in Sivas which retained certain Christian observances and sometimes identified as Christian.
One of the most prominent Kurdish leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sheikh Ahmed Barzani who was a brother of Mustafa Barzani, announced his conversion to Christianity during his uprising against the Iraqi government in 1931.
Contemporary Kurdish Christians
The Kurdish-Speaking Church of Christ (The Kurdzman Church of Christ) was established in Hewlêr (Arbil) by the end of 2000, and has branches in the Silêmanî, Duhok governorates. This is the first evangelical Kurdish church in Iraq. Its logo is formed of a yellow sun and a cross rising up behind a mountain range. Kurdzman Church of Christ held its first three-day conference in Ainkawa north of Arbil in 2005 with the participation of 300 new Kurdish converts. According to one Kurdish convert, an estimated 500 Kurdish Muslim youths have converted to Christianity since 2006 throughout Kurdistan. A Kurdish convert from the Iraqi military who claims to have transported weapons of mass destruction also stated that a wave of Kurds converting to Christianity is taking in northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan). Part of the English-language New Testament was first available in the Kurdish language in 1856.
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Thirteenth century Armenian historians note that the family ancestors were Christianized Kurds
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- Revival Times
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- IRAQ: Sunni extremists threaten to kill Christian converts in north
- Kurds in Northern Iraq Converting to Christianity: Iraqi General
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