The festival in the Iraqi Kurdish province of Sulaymaniyah was held to mark the International Day of Peace with participation from local and international musicians and artists.
Musicians and artists from 8 different countries participated in the Peace Festival in Sulaymaniyah to showcase their culture, music, dances, poetry and local folklore as a means of celebrating the cultures of different communities in the region. 16 different groups came to represent the 8 countries involved in the festival. The festival went on for three days, encompassing a variety of musical and artistic activities and performances. It is the sixth such festival to take place in Sulaymaniyah.
“I have come from Tehran. We have come to present the culture and traditions that are specific to us. The festival is wonderful. Everyone is singing and people are feeling happy”, noted a Kurdish performer from Iran.
Thousands were present in Sulaymaniyah for the festival as part of the audience. The crowds enjoyed the variety of songs and dances on show. exposing them to performers from different backgrounds.
Peace festivals have become commonplace in Iraq especially after the recent dramatic demise of ISIS. There is a will to bring people together and rejoice in the similarities and differences between communities, in defiance of the totalitarianism that has blighted Iraq in the past.
For instance, a peace festival took place in the city of Mosul, the former de facto capital of ISIS’ so-called “Islamic Caliphate”, to present the city’s vibrant past and diverse culture. People from various ethno-religious backgrounds, including Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Sabeans, Shia and Sunni Muslims, participated in this event which held important symbolism as it contrasted the discrimination and persecution enacted by ISIS militants just a few months before.
Another peace festival was held for the first time in the city of Ramadi, in Anbar Province, last year, in one of the first celebrations of liberation from ISIS.
Iraq’s burgeoning civil society has played a significant role in promoting and organising events that seek to foster social cohesion and celebrate the diversity of Iraq.