Iraq is home to a number of religious traditions

The country also has a rich ethnic and linguistic diversity, both along and across religious divides.

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.

New film on inter-faith understanding

The film is made by JAV, a team of young Yazidis living in Iraq. It is produced as part of the Inclusive Citizenship project at HL-senteret, with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The film shows Muslim, Christian, Yazidis and others visiting religious minority sites in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Coexistence in Iraqi Kurdistan

Different religious groups have long traditions in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Still, there is a need for more knowledge about their presence and history in the region, not least the minority groups.

This film is produced by HL-senteret as a part of the Inclusive Citizenship project (www.inclusive-citizenship.no) in cooperation with the film director Zahavi Sanjavi and ABV Productions and with support from NORAD, The Norwegian Agency of Devlopment Cooperation.

Bashiqa – Living together with diversity

Yazidi, Christian, Shabak Muslims and others live together in and around the city of Bashiqa in northern Iraq. They did not let the attacks by the ISIS terror organization destroy their community and co-existence

This film is produced by HL-senteret in cooperation with the film director Zahavi Sanjavi and ABV Productions and with support from NORAD, The Norwegian Agency of Devlopment Cooperation.

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.

360° tour

In this 360° experience you can move around in Amediya. You can explore information points and view short films.

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.

360° tour

In this 360° experience you can move around in Alqosh. You can explore information points and view short films.

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.

360° tour

In this 360° experience you can move around in Erbil. You can explore information points and view short films.

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 circle of violence and impunity for perpetrators in particularly after the Yazidi genocide has created mistrust both between neighbors and groups in general. There is a need for justice and reconciliation, in which civil society in general and education in particular may play a central role.

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.

This film is about the new regional forums on the right to learn one’s own language in education, convened in 2019 by the UN Special rapporteur on minority issues.

The rich linguistic diversity in Iraqi Kurdistan and linguistic rights in school education was the topic of a seminar organised in Erbil in cooperation with the Alliance of Iraqi Minorities in 2019, with the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues as one of the key note speakers.

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:

Iraqi diversity photograph gallery
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Related resources
External Links

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.