Culture

Iraq: Bashiqa Peace Forum promotes peace among minority groups

Iraq

In northern Iraq, the Bashiqa Peace Forum was held to promote dialogue, peace and tolerance among religious minorities who were persecuted by ISIS

Minority groups in northern Iraq took part in the Bashiqa Peace Forum, which aimed to help repair the fractures caused by ISIS’ rule during the group’s control of large swathes of the country between 2014 and 2017.

Taking place in the town of Bashiqa, which is located just east of Mosul, the forum was attended by notable leaders from the Yazidi, Muslim and Christian communities.

The area around Bashiqa, known as the Nineveh Plains, is home to a diverse set of ethno-religious groups that also includes Shabaks and Kurdish populations. Many locals call this area a microcosm of Iraq, with its various set of beliefs and customs representing the diverse mosaic prevalent in parts of the country.

While this population has reduced dramatically as a result of ISIS’ persecution of minority groups, there are signs that these numbers are slowly rising as more people return to their homes.

Despite this, there still remains a veritable lack of trust among many people within these communities, whose fractures were amplified and exacerbated by ISIS as the group attempt to sow distrust and discord, especially among minorities and the Sunni Arab population.

The participants believe that events like these highlight the growing trust among Iraq’s communities and demonstrate how there is no difference among the various ethno-religious groups in northern Iraq.

“We need these types of festivals to show that there are no differences between the Muslim, Christian and Yazidi faiths,” said one of the attendees. “We are all humans and made of dust”.

Other attendees expressed their hope that the strengthened bonds between Bashiqa’s community can be a model for other communities experiencing similar levels of distrust and in need of reconciliation.

“I hope Bashiqa can be taken as an example of peaceful coexistence,” began a Yazidi filmmaker, “because it was seen between the Yazidis, Christians, Muslims, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, Shabaks, Kakais, and everyone”.