“The participants presented the concerns and challenges of the different Iraqi religious and ethnic groups. In order for all Iraqis to enjoy fully citizenship based on their national identity and belonging, many aspects of the constitution, legislation and their application in the public sphere are to be addressed urgently by the Iraqi authorities,” said Carla Khijoyan, WCC programme executive for the Middle East.
Due to the challenges and risks that threaten the existence of diversity in Iraq, “emigration of its people continue to countries that cannot be considered as substitute nations,” said Khijoyan. “Iraq will lose its identity if it loses its ethnic and religious diversity. Beyond majorities and minorities, beyond numbers and statistics, resides a society formed through thousands of years of intercultural interactions, and that has shaped the national identity of Iraqis. This social cohesion is now suffering and needs restoration.”
Many Indigenous components of the Iraqi society do not have legal recognition, they exist “physically” but not “formally” – therefore it is important to establish a law on recognizing and managing diversity and protecting minorities' rights, their presence and future, ensuring them equal rights as citizens.
Criminalization of hate speech and achieving transitional justice are among the initiatives the participants of the “Living Together” meeting agreed upon that would contribute to reconciliation, peace, and social cohesion for all in the country.
Celebrating diversity and addressing challenges to inclusive citizenship, the consultation “Living Together” was held on 6-7 March convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC), with the support of Norwegian Church Aid, and partnership with CAPNI for Humanitarian Aid in Iraq and UFUQ Organization for Human Development.
At “Living Together” celebration in Bagdad, religious and ethnic leaders see “with our own eyes what diversity means” (WCC news release, 7 March 2023)