By Idris Okuducu
The body of Jalal Talabani, a former Iraqi president who passed away earlier this week, arrived on Friday in Iraq’s northern city of Sulaymaniyah -- his hometown -- from the German capital Berlin.
Talabani passed away Tuesday in a Berlin hospital following a long struggle with illness. He was 83 years old.
His body was received at Sulaymaniyah Airport by his wife, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, and his son, Qubad Talabani, who currently serves as deputy prime minister in northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Following the homecoming ceremony, Talabani’s body was taken to Sulaymaniyah’s Grand Mosque where funeral prayers was performed.
Talabani’s body was brought to the nearby village of Dabashan to be laid to rest.
Thousands of people in black came to Dabashan from the Iraqi cities of Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Kirkuk to pay tribute to Talabani waving posters, which read: “Rest in peace Mam [Uncle] Jalal”.
Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, KRG President Masoud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani were among those who attended the ceremony at the airport.
The ceremony was also attended by several Kurdish opposition figures, including Ali Bapir, head of the Kurdistan Islamic Society Party (Komel), and Omar Sayyid Ali, head of the Kurdish Movement for Change (Gorran) party.
A number of foreign officials were also present at the airport to pay their respects to the late Kurdish leader, including Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
Born on Nov. 12, 1933 in Sulaymaniyah, Talabani was elected president of post-invasion Iraq in 2005, becoming the country’s first Kurdish president. He was re-elected for a second presidential term in 2010.
Talabani was also the founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which he established in 1975 and for which he served several terms as secretary-general.