From January 2011- August 2012, IF conducted the Interfaith Cooperation Project. The goal of this project was to expand religious freedom for all Iraqi faith communities and promote mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.
Interfaith Cooperation Project (ICP)

What Is ICP?

“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
“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
“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 Iraq Foundation was awarded a grant from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) to conduct a 19 month project in Iraq. ICP was designed to deepen public knowledge and promote dialogue about Iraq’s diverse religious heritage and to enhance religious freedom, interfaith cooperation, trust, and mutual respect among faith communities to allow for their peaceful coexistence.

Toward this end, the project’s immediate objectives were to support interfaith cooperation efforts and dialogue among university students and youth of different religious backgrounds; use media to document and affirm Iraq’s religious diversity throughout history; organize meetings and provide forums for public dialogue on religious rights and freedoms; and inform opinion makers and the public on the importance of religious freedom in peace-building and promoting citizenship.

ICP built interfaith cooperation and promoted religious freedom among Iraqi university students by conducting a nationwide documentary film competition to capture and celebrate the diversity of Iraq’s historic religious sites and its plurality of faith traditions. IF conducted a nationwide video-short competition to select the best amateur documentaries—filmed, researched, and narrated by interfaith groups of university youth from all provinces of Iraq—about the country’s religiously diverse and historical places of worship, educating the broader public about the historic and contemporary human experience of faith communities belonging to these heritage sites.

The project was an authentically Iraqi grassroots process, unlike most conventional education initiatives. The documentaries, while instructive, also showcase Iraq’s rich, varied peoples and how Iraqis can live and work together. IF aimed at greater project sustainability by creating a long-lasting education tool that can be used far beyond the life of the project. The project also fostered interfaith trust and respect among participants that can can have a ripple effect among their peers and provide a model for more interfaith cooperation in the future. Participating youth learned valuable and sustainable new media skills that can be used to enhance dialogue throughout the course of their careers.


Project Outcomes

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 Al-Sumaria 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.

IF fostered public dialogue and understanding about Iraq’s diverse religious history by airing the five best documentaries on national television and organizing discussion-based film screenings of all competition entries throughout the country. 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, Al-Sumaria, Al-Iraqiya, Al-Fayhaa, Biladi, and Al-Baghdadiya. It is estimated that one in four Iraqis has seen at least one of the documentaries. IF also held a special screening of “Interfaith Dialogue in Mesopotamia” on Tuesday, October 9 in Washington, DC (for more information, click here). The screening captured 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.

Below, you can view select documentaries from participants. To see more, visit the ICP Facebook page. For final reports and external reviews regarding project impact, please visit our “Reports” page.