ICP Concludes!

 

From June 2011-August 2012, teams of young Iraqi men and women from different religious backgrounds and provinces came together to produce 15 documentaries on significant historic religious sites across Iraq. The documentaries, which were produced with the assistance and support of AlSumaria TV, seek to highlight the rich heritage of religious diversity that lives on in modern Iraq and build understanding among Iraq’s religious and ethnic communities. Documentaries cover historic shrines of all religions and a special emphasis on religious sites that are ‘shared’ by many different faiths and religious sites in close proximity, demonstrating how different faiths can live and worship side by side.

Project participants held 63 screenings of the documentaries in 15 provinces, reaching an audience of over 8,000 people. Documentaries were broadcasted on five national Iraqi TV stations including, Alsumaria, Al-Iraqiya, Al-Fayhaa, Biladi, and Al-Baghdadiya. It is estimated that one in four Iraqis has seen at least one of the documentaries. In October of 2012, IF will hold a screening of a film, produced in cooperation with AlSumaria, which is based on 15 documentaries produced by the project participants in Washington, DC. The screening will aim to capture Iraq’s thriving belief cultures and foster understanding among a U.S.-based audience of Iraq’s long history as a country where religious diversity has flourished. To read more about the event, view the invitation here.

According to the independent evaluation report, “the documentaries have undoubtedly contributed to the promotion of religious freedom and religious tolerance [in Iraq… through] adding information and knowledge regarding religious freedom and religious tolerance… and affecting attitudes and changing practices.”

Other key findings of the independent evaluation report are described below:

  •  Audiences that attended documentary screenings responded positively and indicated their willingness to promote religious tolerance and acceptance of religious diversity. This response indicates that the documentaries were not only necessary for Iraqi society but also that the audiences directly translated the messages of the documentaries into a willingness to promote the objectives of the project.
  •  Various sources have confirmed that there is great interest in interfaith cooperation in Iraq. The questionnaires filled out by audience members that attended the screenings demonstrated the interest of community members in improving interfaith cooperation in Iraq and in particular, in gaining a better understanding of Iraq’s religious diversity.
  •  The documentaries addressed the great religious heritage and historical civilization of Iraq and the coexistence of different religions within one society
  •  The documentaries also successfully highlighted examples of religious tolerance between various constituencies of Iraqi society throughout the past centuries. They stressed the uniqueness of each religion and the right of adherents to practice their rituals and ceremonies as well as the obligation of others to respect their traditions.
  •  Showing mosques, churches, shrines and temples in one documentary contributed greatly to encouraging a better dialogue between religions.
  •  Many Iraqis think that there are only two races, Arabs and Kurds, and only two religions, Islam and Christianity. In this context, the documentaries were extremely important in showcasing the diversity of races and religions existing in Iraq

Selected quotes from ICP youth participants also included in the independent evaluation report can be found below:

  •  “Thanks to ICP, I have dedicated many of my activities to restoring the ethnic and social cracks that have fractured Iraqi society. We must think of other activities that could lend themselves to similar objectives.” – Ahmad Shams, Maysan
  •  “The experience of creating the documentaries demonstrated to my team the positive impact of peaceful coexistence. We used to believe in coexistence but after this experience, we now know that peaceful coexistence is the only way forward for our country. What affected me the most was meeting with Muslim and Christian families, who expressed their belief in peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of others.” –Mohammed Hammoud Sultan, Salah el Din
  •  “ICP embraces a humanitarian and noble mission: to build an Iraqi society based on partnership and religious diversity. The ICP working groups worked actively to achieve this goal. Our documentary translates actual, existing models of peaceful coexistence in the Dhi Qar governorate.” –Mohammed Mohsen Al-Ibrahimi, Dhi Qar
  •  “I was lucky to establish many friendships with Iraqis from other religions. I also garnered valuable knowledge about different religions. Ultimately, we worked to achieve one goal: the promotion of the culture of diversity within our society. I hope that there will be many projects that aim to encourage acceptance of others inside the new Iraq” –Mustafa Akil Al-Khalidi, Al Diwaniya

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