Culture

Religious leaders create peace road map in Iraq's Nineveh

Iraq

Religious leaders and community representatives have met at a conference in Mosul to form a road map for the eventual attainment of inter-religious peace post-ISIS. Furthermore, it is hoped that by promoting religious coexistence more of Nineveh's displaced population will be able to return home.

Religious leaders and representatives from every religious sect in Iraq’s Nineveh Province have met to discuss restoring inter-religious dialogue following the defeat of ISIS in the country. The conference, which was held in the city of Mosul, was organised in response to the social rift and distrust that had developed between Iraq’s minority groups during ISIS’ occupation of the province between 2014 and 2017.

“We are aiming to work with religious figures,” said Qahtan al-Haso, the Director for the Peace and Stability Operations in Nineveh. “They have shown great enthusiasm in their work [to restore coexistence]. We have to come out with positive results.”

As a result of the conference, around 40 religious scholars and leaders from all of Nineveh’s communities have agreed on a set of principles to create a road map for the eventual attainment of inter-religious peace.

“[We have adopted] the principle of dialogue for the sake of creating a secure ground for peaceful coexistence between religions,” said Sheikh Ali Osama, a representative of the Sunni Endowment. “[We will] promote convergence and principles of forgiveness.”

The conference was sponsored by the international non-governmental organisation, the Mercy Corps. The Mercy Corps and the religious representatives alike hope that the success of the conference will contribute to the eventual return of Nineveh’s displaced population.

The creation of a forum in which religious groups can achieve greater ongoing dialogue is an important stage in the restoration of inter-communal relations in Nineveh. During ISIS’ occupation of the province, the militants worked tirelessly to propagate their ideology of religious sectarianism, hate and violence. Accordingly, many of the people who fled Nineveh between 2014 and 2017 have not yet returned to their homes due to the fear of falling victim to violence on their return.

“We are ready to lay the foundations for generating community life after the liberation [of Nineveh] and after what our regions have gone through,” said Shummar Safiyan, a representative of the Tal Kayf church, which is located approximately 12km north of Mosul.

In addition to creating a road map towards creating a peaceful, communal coexistence, religious leaders and representatives have begun writing an educational book that further promotes peace.