"Iraq for All Iraqis" (June 2007)
The heinous attack on one of Iraq’s most revered Shiite shrines has been met with almost universal condemnation, and Religions for Peace joins in that condemnation. Clearly the attack on the al-Askari mosque in Samarra was designed to further exacerbate sectarian fear and stoke a cycle of violence among Iraqi religious communities. In this most deplorable situation, it is heartening that many Iraqi religious leaders—Shiite and Sunni Muslims and Christians—have called with a single voice for restraint and rejected the path of retaliation. In some parts of Iraq, religious leaders marched together to demonstrate their solidarity against the bombing and appeal to an end to sectarian violence.
Two days prior to the attacks, senior Iraqi religious leaders offered another urgently needed signal of Iraqi multi-religious cooperation. Religions for Peace, with two partner organizations, convened fourteen senior Iraqi religious leaders at the United Nations to focus on an “Iraq for all Iraqis.” These religious leaders forged plans to advance multi-religious cooperation in Iraq and to advance cooperation with religious communities beyond Iraq. The Alhakim Foundation and the Center for Dialogues: Islamic World—US—the West were equal partners with Religions for Peace in this event.
The meeting at the United Nations follows upon a series of Religions for Peace Iraqi multi-religious gatherings dating back to an historic meeting in Amman, Jordan, in May 2003, just a month after the occupation of Baghdad. At that meeting, Iraqi religious leaders were supported by the international Co-Presidents of Religions for Peace coming from all continents of the world. Since then, Religions for Peace has convened Iraqi religious leaders in Iraq, United Kingdom, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, and Norway over the past four years and partnered with them in humanitarian projects focusing on war-injured children.
The Iraqi religious leaders were united in their recognition that they need a mechanism that can facilitate cooperation among all religious sects and provide a unified response to extremist religious ideologies that support indiscriminate violence against persons and the destruction of religious sites. They also recognized the need for international multi-religious cooperation. This echoed an earlier mandate given to Religions for Peace to help Iraqi religious leaders build an Iraqi-led Religions for Peace council in Iraq.
The Iraqi religious leaders were frank in their views that Iraq stands at a crossroads. Sectarian violence—aided and abetted by religious extremists from both within and beyond Iraq—threatens to rend the fabric of the country. Iraq’s brilliant legacy of religious tolerance must provide a base for a new social compact. This compact must respect and protects diverse group, provide shared values to negotiate differences and forge a national identity based on shared interests. To achieve this new “Iraq for all Iraqis” will require irreplaceable leadership from Iraq’s religious communities. They are ready to lead, but they urgently need our support. They need the support of religious leaders in their own region—spanning important states as diverse are Saudi Arabia and Iran. They also need the support of religious communities from around the world.
Multi-religious cooperation in Iraq can spell success in Iraq, in the region and the world at large. We are all at a crossroads.
For more information on the conference, please click here.
|French SG Update June 07||70 KB|