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On March 15th, 2015 the Iraq Foundation’s Suhaila al-Assadi presented a statement during a hearing of the Council of Representative’s Committee for Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs on the topic “Moderation and Tolerance As Our Pathway to Stability and Security.” Consistent with the Foundation’s commitment to pluralism, inclusiveness, and celebration of diversity, Ms. Assadi’s statement calls for a return to the peaceful coexistence of Iraq’s past in order to combat the negative effects of the spread of violence and the rising influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. IF was one of only a few NGOs to be invited to give a statement. The following is a summary of Ms. Assadi’s statement.

Interfaith Coexistence

The Iraq Foundation (IF) thanks the Committee on Endowments for its decision to hold a hearing on the subject of peaceful coexistence and for inviting us to speak at the hearing. We hope that this meeting provides practical results and decisions that achieve progress towards a true rapprochement among religions. We value the role of the Council of Representatives (CoR) as a respected and honest mediator in reconciling differences and resolving disagreements through dialogue among people from different cultures and religions. We hope the CoR’s efforts will continue to strengthen Iraq. May God bless your steps and bring you success.

I am delighted to discuss a highly important theme regarding the unity of the Iraqi people and to highlight the moderate and real vision of Islam and other monotheistic religions, all of which teach tolerance and acceptance of others. We believe that interaction between members of differing religions is necessary. All religions are enriched by a level of interaction, exchange, and harmony with others; a religion cannot exist in isolation from the contextual effects of culture, environment, time, and history.

Iraq is the homeland of the most ancient civilizations, and diverse populations have lived and settled on its land. These populations participated in building Iraq’s civilization and establishing its successive states and identity. Specific circumstances, religious, educational, linguistic, and demographic, have helped to create a diverse society in Iraq including: Arabs; Kurds; Turkmen; Christians; Mandeans; Yazidis; Shabak, and others all of whom participated in creating the social and cultural heritage of Iraq. The historical record shows harmony and coexistence among the members of earlier Iraqi society, with peaceful community relations and mutual respect between religious and ethnic groups. In addition, from the earliest of times, our history shows active participation of outstanding individuals from all religions and ethnicities in building the state and strengthening academic, financial, and cultural institutions. Socially, Iraqis from different religions have participated in the religious celebrations of different groups in order to congratulate their neighbors; Iraqis also visit the shrines of other religious groups and sects. In fact, many shrines are common to several religions.

Iraqis accept this diversity because they strongly believe that all these religions were revealed by God’s prophets and beloved ones, and they believe that all of these prophets have spiritual and holy status. People from different religions are used to presenting vows at the shrines of other religious groups. This is because Iraqis believe that we are one people, encompassing all its members and constituents. However, today, the escalating level of violence and the deteriorating security situation represent the greatest threat facing Iraqis from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. It is necessary to reaffirm Iraq’s cultural

history of social and religious tolerance, and continue forwards in the direction of rationality, coexistence, and tolerance. By taking measures that call for reviewing our attitudes towards other Iraqis, we can ensure a return to logical thinking characterized by tolerance and coexistence in peace and security. At the same time, this will prevent the tarnishing of religions and ethnicities in a society that that includes multiple sects and ethnicities. The following points aim to support this objective:

• Commitment to the constitution

The Iraqi constitution provides the legal framework for the development of legislation against discrimination. Article 14 states that all Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination, and Article 16 states that the state shall ensure equal opportunities for all Iraqis. Article 125 guarantees the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the various ethnicities, and Article 2 (c) prevents any legislation inconsistent with the rights enshrined in the constitution. Therefore, it is the duty of the legislature to enact legislation which ensures respect for, and implementation of, these provisions.

• Commitment to a unified position.

Progress must be made towards the unification of religious discourse which calls for rapprochement and coexistence between members of the different communities in one society.
We urgently need to frame a code of honor that will be adopted by various sects and religions which emphasizes maintaining the unity of the national fabric, renouncing extremism, denouncing sectarian rhetoric, and fostering a spirit of tolerance

• Adopting open dialogue and building bridges of trust
We must intensify efforts to establish communications and dialogue between religious leaders. These efforts should include a code of honor in order to assist in finding solutions, exchanging ideas, unifying shared visions, and addressing misunderstandings resulting from a lack of communication.

• Encouraging the role of civil society organizations in the promotion of a culture of coexistence between religions
The role of civil and international organizations in strengthening and promoting dialogue, coexistence, and identifying the roots of discord between groups must be strengthened.

• Rejecting exclusion and marginalization

All monotheistic religions call for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding between different races and cultures without exclusion for sectarian or ethnic affiliation, to achieve peace and trust in society. Additionally, they call for the adoption of dialogue that leads to increased unity of humanity. We need to promote inclusion as part of our value system through education, culture, and the media to root it in society.

On Jan. 24, 2015, in an extraordinary move by the  modern founders and activists in  Iraqi civil society, the first Civil Society Leaders Conference was held in the Oil Cultural Center.  The conference honored 50 activists and civil society organizations, from all of Iraq’s provinces, who have contributed to Iraq’s civil society for more than 10 years. The Iraq Foundation was one of the first organizations to be honored, as well as a number of organizations which founded the core of  Iraqi civil society after  2003. The event also honored activists  like Umaia Aljibara,  lawyer Saadia Lami, and others who have sacrificed their lives in order to advance Iraq’s civil society. The conference was held in the presence of hundreds of organizations working in Iraq as well as members of the House of Representatives, the Baghdad Provincial Council, and the Commission on Human Rights.

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IF held an organizational management workshop at the Holiday Inn Dunes- Beirut on December 9-13, 2014

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The Iraq Foundation (IF) is pleased to report that 4 WIES beneficiaries were linked to job opportunities during this reporting period. Three started working as tailors in Al-Akhawin Factory in Baghdad, and one started working as a housekeeper for a Lebanese firm based in Basra which is specialized in biological research for the oil industry, she was hired for $700/ month.   As part of the marketing strategies developed by WIES, improving marketing for businesses-owned by females heads of household (FHH), IF contracted Al-Nijoom Company to produce 100 electronic ads to help WIES beneficiaries advertise their products. During this reporting period, IF was granted a 3 months no cost extension (NCE) for the project from October 31, 2014 to January 31, 2015 in the provinces of Baghdad, Basra and Maysan. IF amended its memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Iraqi Women Association in Maysan, Al Ferdos NGO in Basra and contracted 2 NGOs in Baghdad: the Iraqi Women’s League in Baghdad and Um Al Yateem. As a result ofthe NCE, the following was achieved:   27 FHH received advanced marketing for their businesses in Maysan.   33 WIES families (33 women, 7 men) in Baghdad and Basra attended family financial planning sessions. Female and male members of the household gathered with a third party to reflect on the proper allocation of  income generated by project activities.   IF contracted The Voice of Joy radio station to produce 100 radio spots advertising WIES supported businesses in the three provinces.

WIES beneficiaries started working in Al-Akhawain Tailor Factory

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Family Financial Planning Sessions-Basra

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Financial Planning

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Family Financial Planning Sessions-Baghdad/Karkh

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Advanced Marketing training in Maysan

Financial Planning Maysan

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IF conducted the second national conference for its PEACE project in Baghdad on the 22nd of December 2014. The event was held at the Almansour hotel in Baghdad. The conference was headed by IF’s president Ms. Rend Al-Rahim and was attended by 136 people representing a wide range of stakeholder groups including the government, non-governmental organizations, and media groups.

The participants reviewed the accomplishments of the PEACE project, how to utilize the project’s momentum moving forward, progress achieved on the National Charter, the PEACE project data base, and the project’s score card. The score-card measures the progress in legal, social, and economic reforms based on the indicators established by the National Charter and the progress made by national and local government agencies.

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As part of WIES support for FHH’s businesses, IF has established web based ad’s promoting for FHH’s business as part of marketing and networking assistance provided to the FHH’s.

The ads were disseminated through social media and Electronic journals in attempt to help marketing the FHH’s products and linking them to small contracts to support their businesses.

IF Advertises

The Iraq Foundation condemns, in the strongest terms, the barbaric war crimes conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against Iraqi men, women, and children, particularly those who are members of religious and ethnic minority groups. These activities have included mass killings of Turkomen and forced conversions amongst members of the Yazidi and Shabak communities. IF condemns this and other forms of religious persecution, targeting of minorities and extremist violence. IF also wishes to draw attention to the plight of those who have remained, whether by choice or by force, in their ancestral homes, particularly in the Ninawa province, only to face increasingly stringent demands at the hands of ISIS leaders. Reports are distressingly common of ISIS involvement not only in the forced conversion of minorities to its own version of Islam, but also of beheadings, confiscation of property, and female genital mutilation (FGM), amongst other injustices wrought onto the innocent communities native to these towns.

We are gravely concerned by the violence, including sexual violence against women and girls belonging to the Yazidi and Christian religious minorities in Iraq who are being raped and sold into slavery with the aim of giving birth to  Muslim children and thus “ethnically cleanse” these groups. Furthermore, if released, these victims face the threat of honor killings by their relatives. The Iraq Foundation condemns the deaths of hundreds of Yazidis, mostly children, on Mount Sinjar and cases of child kidnapping. We cannot overemphasize the need for intervention, without which ISIS will continue to spread and perpetuate these abuses.

The Iraq Foundation seeks to work with the Iraqi government, the Kurdish regional government (KRG) and the international community to address this tragedy. We at the Iraq Foundation are particularly concerned about the provision of psychosocial and physical services to women victims and the strengthening of appropriate resources, such as safe houses, where women can be provided with such rehabilitation services. The Iraq Foundation is currently working on the ground with local NGOs to provide much-needed humanitarian aid, including food, potable water, and medical supplies for internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly children. Please consider donating to allow us to continue this work: http://www.iraqfoundation.org/if-assists-idps/

From November 2-5 2011, IF held a four-day National Meeting in the Erbil province for the 15 Integrity Monitoring Groups (IMGs) established as part of the Provincial Accountability and Governance Project (PAG). A total of 90 participants from across Iraq attended the National Meeting, including officials from the Commission of Integrity, IMG members, provincial officials, and IF staff.  The goal of the National Meeting was to provide participants with a networking opportunity and spur the creation of a formal national network to advocate for good governance and fight corruption at the national level based on a unified, national Agenda for Change.  Over the last two years, IMGs have created and implemented Agendas for Change at the provincial level.  Based on these groups’ individual experiences, participants have agreed on a draft version of a National Agenda for Change during the National Meeting.  In addition to this success, a national network has emerged from the meeting and is currently in the process of registering with the Iraqi Council of Ministers as a legal Iraqi NGO.

Participants also received extensive training on networking and the use and maintanance of the newly created PAG Website during this meeting.

Selected photos from the event:



The Baghdad town-hall meeting was held in Al-Zafarania Youth Forum on May 15, 2011. Tribal leaders, government officials, NGO members and people from different sectors of the Iraqi society attended the meeting, total of 79 participants. Among the dignitaries who attend the meeting and responded to the inquires and concerns of the general public were, Ms. Basma Abdul Ammir, a Baghdad Provincial Council Member and Shaik Mohamed Al-Kadiry, Chief of Al-Zafarania  Support Council. The meeting was covered by the following media channels: Al-Ahad satellite TV channel, Al-Rusheed TV Channel, Al-Rai Newspaper, Al-Taaki Newspaper. 

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Al-Manara Network (Wasit Province, October 22, 2010)

http://www.almannarah.com/Mobile/NewsDetails.aspx?CatID=6&NewsID=20400

Wasit news network  (Wasit province, October 21, 2010)

http://www.wasitpress.net/news.php?action=view&id=1310

Al-Nasiria electronic newspapers (Thi-Qar province, October 27, 2010)

http://nasiriaelc.com/index.php?act=artc&id=4258

Nasiria news network (thi-Qar province, October 28, 2010) 

http://www.nasiriyah.org/nar/ifm.php?recordID=16130

Al-Shabiya electronic newspaper (Th-Qar province, October 28, 2010)

http://www.nasiriyahnews.com/news.php?action=view&id=725