A Goldsmiths postgraduate student’s online project based in Lewisham called Zanstekan, aimed at bringing science news to the Kurdish community, has been so successful, it has developed a larger web presence.
Sarhang Hars and co-founder Peshwaz Faizulla wanted to bring a new way of thinking to the Kurdish media, by creating a place that questioned the world surrounding its readers.
Originally from North Iraq, Hars 30, has been running Zanstekan for a little over a year, beginning with a single Facebook page called Science made simple.
The Facebook page now has 27,500 followers and following this level of success, he has decided to expand it out into a separate website with its own domain name.
Zanstekan means “science” in Kurdish and the organisation is dedicated to promoting science and establishing the foundation for science journalism in Kurdistan.
Hars says: “we thought it would be a good idea to have a website to introduce readers to scientific method and content.”
The organisation monitors major science agencies and websites, taking news or discoveries and translating them into Kurdish to be published online.
One of the biggest motivations for Hars was that once he got out into the world and was exposed to real scientific material, he got a “understanding of how the world works and how fantastic it is.”
Hars says the site seeks to “indirectly influence” the thinking of its readers in the context of the religious background of Kurdish culture and society.
He says the material being published on Zanstekan is being seen as authoritative since many other journalism outlets link to them and cite their work.
The organisation has been promoting London’s museums to Kurdish readers a popular interest as there is nothing similar in Kurdistan.
As well as providing information, the group has produced videos of simple science experiments that can be done at home.
Hars and members of Zanstekan hope to gain funding from British institutions such as the Richard Dawkins Foundation to be able to run public events and science camps for readers of all ages.