Dutch Kurdologist wins Jamal Nabaz Golden Pen Prize, he calls himself undercover Kurdologist

12/3/2022 2:49:43 PM
 Michiel Leezenberg receives the Jamal Nabaz Golden Pen Prize in Sulaimani, Kurdistan region on December 3, 2022.
 photo: KurdSat English
Michiel Leezenberg has spent almost half of his life studying the Kurds.

Leezengberg opened his statement by saying, "It is a great honor to win the prize." The philosopher apologized for only speaking Kurmanji Kurdish, as Kurdish Sorani is predominantly spoken in Sulaimani, where the ceremony was held. 


Michiel Leezenberg, born in 1964, is a professor of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He is known as a philosopher and comparative linguist. He spent over half of his life exploring Kurdish history and language. "I have been studying the Kurds for the past 30 t0 33 years," the Kurdologist noted.

He is fluent in Dutch, English, French, German, and Italian. The linguist has an excellent command of Greek, Turkish and Arabic, Kurdish, and even extinct languages such as Greek, Ancient Chinese, Sanskrit and Latin. Leezenberg is fluent in Kurdish Kurmanji, a dialect of the Kurdish language spoken by most Kurds.


Michiel Leezenberg is speaking Kurdish at the Jamal Nabaz Golden Pen Prize ceremony wearing the Jamal Nabaz Golden Pen Prize necklace, the necklace thread is decorated with the Kurdistan flag, in Sulaimani, Kurdistan region, on December 3, 2022.   



Michelle's acquaintance with the Kurds dates back to 1988 when he met several Kurds Turkey and Syria. In the same year, news of the horrific chemical attack on Halabja spread in Europe and significantly impacted Leezenberg. "I first came to Sulaimani in 1989, when it was under Saddam Hussein," Leezenberg said at the event.

Today, Saturday, under the slogan "freedom is preferred over independence", the ceremony to award the Jamal Nabaz Golden Pen Prize was held in Sulaimani with the presence of Kurdish linguists, scholars and Kurdologists; Dutch Kurdologist Michiel Leezenberg won the award and spoke in a fluent Kurdish Kurmanji in the ceremony, the Dutch linguist did not have an accent when speaking Kurdish. KurdSat Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) was the ceremony's media sponsor. 


A year later, Leezenberg tries to learn Kurdish, begins reading about Kurdish society and history, and travels to the Kurdistan region. The Dutch Kurdologist's first publications on the Kurds date back to the late 1980s, focusing on human rights and minority groups. He is the author of six books, including Islamic Philosophy: A history, an English translation is due soon. One of his widely taunted articles is Urbanization, Privatization, and Patronage: The Political Economy of Iraqi Kurdistan included in "The Kurds: Nationalism and Politics", a book about Kurds published by Oxford University Press, is a comprehensive study of Kurds that provides an accurate account of Kurds and Kurdistan.


has dozens of books and research on classical Kurdish literature, the Kurdish language and dialects, the history of Kurdish religions, and Kurds' economic and social situation at different stages.

The Dutch activist has always been a Kurdish advocate and raised the Kurdish question, leading Turkey to name him non-grata in 2018. As it is said, I am an undercover Kurdologist, the professor said at the Jamal Nabaz Golden Prize ceremony. Michiel Leezenberg has significantly contributed to the Kurdish language and culture and has participated in several conferences. Since 2010, he has tried speaking Kurdish in regional conferances, as he did at the Jamal Nabaz Golden Prize ceremony. 

He last taught an online course on comparative Kurdish literature during the Covid-19 lockdown. The Dutch Kurdologist is preparing an article on Ahmad Khani's Mam and Zin. He has also translated the story into Dutch and plans to publish it soon.

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