After years of violence and ISIS siege, the diverse ethno-religious community of Nineveh has gathered to celebrate and re-build its centuries-old tradition of peaceful co-existence.
“We are gathered here in the plain of Nineveh, which includes all components, minorities, and sects, to get together through the establishment of love, affection, and harmony,” said a Shia sheikh attending the conference.
Attendees expressed the importance of holding such events to show the world that the residents of the Nineveh Plains will not accept being divided by ISIS.
During the militant group’s rule, they attempted to spread hatred and plant seeds of disharmony within the upcoming generations. As a result, thousands of Yazidis and Christians fled the area after ISIS took over due to the horrors that were inflicted upon them by the militant group.
Despite these attempts, the residents of the Nineveh Plains say that they want to move past this and return to having peaceful and friendly relationships with all ethno-religious communities in the region.
“The relationship between all these components must be solid. We are one people, and we have had historical relations for more than 100 years,” said one of the attendees. “Some people have mistreated others, but that does not represent the components of this region.”
The efforts of the tribal leaders in bringing together the different communities in Nineveh is a commendable act that should be encouraged in order to achieve national reconciliation post-ISIS. According to the organisers, these efforts seek to complement the efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) who have launched military operations to get the region of ISIS sleeper cells.
The mix of soft and hard power in countering extremist ideas has been a very successful model throughout countries such as Morocco, and as such, is needed in Iraq to bring back social order and coexistence.
“We are gathered here to bring back memories from the past and to return as we were before and more,” said one of the tribal sheikhs. “We must cooperate and forget what happened.”