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Kurdistan's religious leaders discuss inter-faith peace and tolerance

FRI, 20 FEB 2009 21:45 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG.org) – Religious leaders of many faiths gathered earlier this week at the Martyr Saad Convention Centre in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, to discuss the importance of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani addressed the clerics. “You are a strong channel for spreading the culture of brotherhood, forgiveness, harmony and acceptance.”

He added, “We can firmly preserve our historical and cultural heritage while we embrace concepts of modern society and freedoms. At the same time, we can respect our religious commitment and respect the religious commitments of those who worship differently."

The three-day conference was designed to promote cultural, religious and ethnic tolerance in practice and in sermons offered throughout the Kurdistan Region. Several religious leaders expressed their appreciation for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s support for their work and for ensuring that all religious viewpoints are respected.

Hundreds of clerics and religious scholars from across the Region attended the three-day event, including representatives of Muslim, Christian, Yezidi, Sabia Mandaean and Shabak communities.

Sheikh Mohammad Ahmad Saeed Shakaly, the Minister for Endowment and Religious Affairs, discussed the ministry’s efforts to promote tolerance between all faiths. He said, “We need to take practical action to implement a policy of coexistence and promulgate a spirit of tolerance and peace among religions. With this goal in mind, the ministry, the KRG as a whole, and clerics are working together closely.”

The Kurdistan Region has been able to avoid the religious and sectarian violence that has affected other areas in Iraq.

See also Prime Minister Barzani's speech at the conference

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FRI, 20 FEB 2009 21:44

"We have been living together for hundreds of years: Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Turkmen, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, and other components of our society. We have never allowed religious and sectarian differences to make us weak. In fact, the diversity among us became a source of strength and power in the Kurdistan Region...Today, in the Kurdistan Region we have shown the world an example of religious and ethnic coexistence and culture, praised by other countries."