“Invited by the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches, 40 representatives of religious authorities and leaders of various Iraqi religions, congregations, and ethnic groups, came together in Beirut to follow up on recommendations of the 2017 conference held in Beirut under the title ‘Interfaith Consultation of Social Cohesion in Iraq,’ and to discuss emerging challenges and future prospects for social cohesion in Iraq,” reads the communiqué.
Participants stressed the role of the state in providing protection for its citizens, preventing attacks based on their religious differences, securing restorative transitional justice, and suppressing hate speech. “The participants underlined the need to ensure sustainability of existence for all different groups, because, together, they constitute the wealth and richness of Iraq,” reads the communiqué. “This could be accomplished through the recognition that everyone has the right to be engaged in public affairs and decision-making mechanisms, especially on matters that directly affect their lives, as well as by building on the common history that brings Iraqis together and refining collective memory.”
Attendees agreed on the need to incorporate scientific standards so as to accurately define legal terminology for better law enforcement in a practical manner that does not leave room for unaccountability and oppression.
“In conclusion, participants expressed their commitment to continue to work together to promote and spread both the culture of diversity and peaceful coexistence in Iraq, with practical application in public policies, education, media, and other areas,” the communiqué concludes. “Detailed recommendations are to be adopted and serve as the basis for next steps and a future action plan.”
During the interreligious gathering, religious and ethnic leaders from Iraq and the Middle East shared from different traditions their vision for social and religious cohesion in Iraq, assessing the current context and envisioning the way forward.
Read full communiqué from the Religious Consultation on Social Cohesion in Iraq (in English and Arabic)