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World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018

Better World organization coordinated with relevant governmental institutions representing three main religions (Islam, Christianity and Yazidi) in KRI to be part of the activities implemented during World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW). Moreover, it created an Interfaith Harmony Group of 20 young members from the three religions. This group participated in a 1-day workshop on World Interfaith Harmony Week Declaration and then in different activities celebrating this event and focusing on the common good for rest of the week. It is worth mentioning that the group has a diversity of people who are not only different in religion but also represent a combination of refugees, IDPs and host community members. The activities of this anniversary included awareness of the communities engaging women, youth, religious and community leaders, and children. They were implemented in different locations, such as public places, schools, university, private houses, and cafes.

Objectives :

To create awareness of the community on UN declaration of “World Interfaith Harmony Week “.

To establish Interfaith Harmony group which engages youths of different religions and enables it to work on peace activities that advocate harmony among the religions,

To encourage related governmental and other related sectors to celebrate the declaration WIHW in the next years and develop programs which advocate harmony,

To build natural links among the three religions through planting trees in three religious places (a Mosque, a Yazidian Marqad, and a Church),

To create Interfaith Harmony Network in Kurdistan region which brings religious leaders to work and concentrate on the common good points among religions and advocate for that through different activities in the community.

Activities implemented :

1. Team building and advocacy for UN Declaration on World Interfaith Harmony Week:

On 1st of February, Better World Organization invited 20 female and male youths within the age range of 20-30 from three religions (Christianity, Islam and Yazidism) to a brief workshop on World Interfaith Harmony Week UN declaration.

The main goal of the workshop was to create awareness of the participants about the declaration, how it was suggested first by King Abdullah II, how it was celebrated in the last years, and what are the objectives of the declaration.

Among other goals of the activity was to build harmony among the participants and to establish a group of interfaith which will be part of the week campaign.

During the workshop, 4 groups were established, each comprising of members from three religions. The groups exchanged opinions in team work and presented their inputs and plans for how to celebrate the declaration.

The organization printed 300 brochures on the declaration and distributed them to the groups for use during their activities in the community.

2. Awareness Raising in the communities through outreach activities:

2nd February; the groups started raising awareness of the communities through outreach activities in different places. Some of the groups visited people in the refugee and internally displaced people (IDP) camps distributed the brochures and some in the host community. While some other invited friends to cafes to get together, have snacks, and discuss the declaration through their entertainment time. Some other groups invited friends to their houses and discussed World Interfaith Harmony Week. In addition, some groups created special groups through Mobile applications, generated discussions on the declaration and exchanged ideas how to reach more people and separate the Harmony among people.

3. Building natural links among three religions through planting trees in three religious places:

3rd February; BWOCD team andthe 20 young participants from the three religions visited together three religious places (Yazidian Shekh Hassan Marqad, Dara Barani Church, and Forqan Mosque) in Duhok and planted trees, 15 in each place. The objective of the activity was to establish natural links among three religions by planting trees. The activity proceeded in a good way meeting the intended objective. Actually, this was the first time for many participants to visit a religious place that is not related to their religion. All the participants felt the harmony and how we have to accept each other despite of any differences.

The Harmony Journey of planting trees lasted for 8 hours (9:00 AM -3:00 PM).

The first religious place visited was Yazidain Shekh Hassan Marqad in Shariya, a town with Yezidie dominant population in Duhok Governorate. A group of religious people from Yazidi religion were present as well; they were very happy of the activity and encouraged us to do such activities regularly. The second place was Forqan Mosque in Duhok city. The last place was Dara Barani Church in Duhok city.

The group members had a harmony lunch together, on one table, thus enjoying nice time together.

4. Presentations on Peace and Coexistence:

On 4th February; the organization delivered a presentation on peace and co-existence for religious and community leaders. Three scholars from the three religions have been requested to conduct presentation on peace and coexistence in their religions.

The invited participants totaling 50 persons of both gender also included representatives from different governmental, civil society and other agencies.

Initially, the organization director explained the UN declaration on WIHW, its establishment background and objectives, and also the successful experience of Jordan movement of the common word. It was followed by scholars’ presentations (each for 20 minutes) on Peace and coexistence for the attendees.

Following that, 1-hour open fruitful discussions took place among the participants and the scholars. All attendees presented their ideas on how we to develop the idea of interfaith harmony in the community in wider perspectives.

5. Awareness Raising in the University of Duhok and schools in Duhok through outreach and seminars:

On 4th and 6th February; the interfaith harmony groups conducted awareness raising activities through outreach and seminars on World Interfaith Harmony Week for different group of students in a number of schools within Duhok governorate. Brochures developed for the event were distributed through the activities.

40 university students were interviewed through group discussions in individual talks. They were asked questions about the obstacles in the way of coexistence in KRI and how we could advocate for harmony through common goods among religions exiting in the area.

Three seminars on WIHW were held by the groups in two elementary schools and one high schools (Bapira High School in Shariya, Darya elementary school in Shariya, and Zariland elementary school in Duhok ). Each seminar was attended by more than 25 students.

Also, three seminars on WIHW were conducted in Duhok University Psychology department. Each of these seminars had the attendance of more than 30 students who were very interested in the topics. It is worth mentioning that in a seminar two participant students, a Yazidi and a Muslim, who were previously in conflict with each other because of their religions worked together in the activity and were able to tolerate each other.