Iraq Celebrates Day of Tolerance and Coexistence: Uniting Christians for Peace

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Annual Iraq Day of Tolerance and Coexistence Emphasizes Unity Amidst Religious Diversity

In March 2021, following a remarkable visit by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced that the Iraq Day of Tolerance and Coexistence would be observed annually starting in 2024. Held on the 6th of March every year, the purpose of this day is to encourage peace and tolerance among all differing religious communities within Iraq, and especially to provide support for the Christian minority.

The Important Dialogue Between Pope Francis and Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi

The inception of this day was a result of a significant dialogue between Pope Francis and Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi. The discussion concentrated on the crucial task of ensuring religious harmony and more importantly, the protection of Christians in Iraq from persecution. The conversation brought about a proposal for various legal and social measures to be put in place to ensure their safety and freedom of worship.

Addressing the Decline of the Christian Population in Iraq

The establishment of this holiday represents the broader efforts put in place to combat the unfortunate decline in the Christian population in Iraq. According to our sources, the Christian population has drastically reduced from 1.4 million in 2003 to a mere 500,000 by 2022; this is predominantly due to persecution, especially during the reign of ISIS.

Commitment to Religious Coexistence Amidst Muslim Majority

With its rich religious diversity, Iraq recognizes the necessity for coexistence amidst its Muslim-majority population. Demonstrating this commitment, the country hosts seventeen active Christian dioceses and eparchies. Participation in Christian observances such as Christmas, along with other global Christian festivities, highlights Iraq’s dedication to preserving its diverse cultural and religious heritage.

Multiple Challenges of Iraqi Economy

Iraq’s economy, which is heavily dependent on oil and has a limited amount of land suitable for agriculture, faces multiple challenges as it seeks to meet the demands of its diverse population. Those challenges become more complex due to its widely diverse population, including Christians, Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds. Arabic and Kurdish, meanwhile, are the primary official languages spoken by these populations.

Elijah Muhammad