Joint effort of Shi’a and Sunni clerics to sustain the tradition of religious tolerance in Iraq

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SHAFAQNA – The following post on the inspirational conference, “Strengthening Commonalities and Reviving Identity,” that was held in Rome on march 20-22, has been provided by Sayyid Jawad al-Khoei, a member of the prominent al-Khoei family in al-Najaf al-Ashraf, Iraq.  It speaks to the tradition of tolerance and mutual respect that has characterized Shi’i-Sunni relations in Iraq since the beginning of the Iraqi nationalist movement that began after the 1908 Young Turk (Committee on Union and Progress) Revolution in the Ottoman Empire.

This tradition was suppressed by Saddam Husayn’s Ba’thist regime between 1968 and 2003 and is under attack today by the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist organizations, which seek to impose its brutal policies through extreme violence on Iraq’s Shi’a, Christians, Yazidis and minority religious communities.  

It is regrettable that the Western media rarely reports on the positive relations between the Shi’a and Sunni communities in Iraq, preferring instead to focus on the efforts of sectarian entrepreneurs to portray such relations as based on feelings of hostility and as mutually exclusive.  

The New Middle East would like to thank Sayyid Jawad for his efforts on behalf of promoting the values of tolerance, pluralism and negotiation as a means of resolving conflict both in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world.  As this conference demonstrates, and as the signatures at the end of the summary of its proceedings show, this tradition remains alive and well.  As they say, you can kill the messenger but you can’t kill the message.

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