Yazidism and Zoroastrianism are among the oldest. Among the other religious groups are the Sabean Mandeans, the Bahai, Sunni and Shia Muslims, Jews and various Christian denominations. The religious diversity is expressed in the old buildings on holy sites of the various traditions. This is visible for instance in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, but also in a number of other places like Alqosh and Amediya.
Co-existence in Amediya – 360
Visit the old religious sites in the ancient of Amediya. It has a spectacular location on a plateau in Iraqi Kurdistan, and has a well-integrated community of Christians, Jews and Muslim Kurds. Also Yazidi students are enrolled at the city’s university.
Christian heritage in Alqosh – 360
Visit the Christian village of Alqosh where you find an old Monastary and churches still in use. You can also visit the old monastery in the hills outside the city that was built in the year 628 (A.C.). Here you can explore its fascinating grotto churches.
Diversity in Erbil – 360
Visit Erbil, the pluralistic and modern capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Here you can go to the Jalil Khayat mosque completed in 2007, and to the old churches in the Christian quarter of the city.
Some of the religious communities in Iraq are referred to in the constitution. Several numerical minorities also have a quota of representation in both the Iraqi national and the Kurdish regional parliaments. Since 2015, the Yazidi and six other religious minorities have also had their own representative in the Kurdish regional ministry for religious affairs. Some of these groups still report they face discrimination and prejudice.
The work of the Inter-Faith Council of Iraq is one example of initiatives that celebrates diversity as a central component of Iraqi common identity. The Alliance of Iraqi Minorities is among the civil society initiatives that aims to preserve both ethnic and religious diversity and to help rebuild trust among different components of society.
A number of local initiatives, not least among youth, also give hope for a revival of the old Iraqi tradition for co-existence in the future. In October 2018 a group of young students, Muslim, Yazidi and Christian, in northern Iraq organized an excursion to visit each other’s holy places. The photo gallery below offers a glimpse from these visits:
Here are a few selected recent reports and films addressing issues related to the Yazidi case. In the case and topic sections you will find links to other relevant external resources.