Dialogue launched for establishment of Network of Religious leaders to Prevent Violent Extremism in Iraq

March 20, 2022

Baghdad, Iraq, 20 March 2022 On 19 March, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq and the National Committee on the Implementation of the Strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism at the National Security Advisory launched the first dialogue session on the establishment of the Network of Religious Leaders to Prevent Violent Extremism in Iraq.

A high-level dialogue session included members of the National Committee on the Implementation of the Strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism and members of the Shiite and Sunni, Yazidi, Christian and Sabian endowments, in addition to the AlHussein Holy shrine. A key focus of the Network of Religious Leaders will be to promote moderate religious discourse and increase awareness and support to community initiatives on the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Iraq.

This dialogue session contributes to UNDP’s integrated approach to Preventing Violent Extremism and supporting social cohesion in Iraq, including support to the National Committee, through capacity development for sub-committees located in various governorates on implementing the strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism in Iraq, as well as the establishment of interfaith religious leader networks across Iraqi governorates on Preventing Violent Extremism.

UNDP Iraq Resident Representative Zena Ali-Ahmad states, “The establishment of a Network for Religious Leaders builds on UNDP Iraq’s support to the Government of Iraq in preventing violent extremism, with an integrated and comprehensive approach related to engagement with a cross-section of Iraqi society including religious leaders, youth, and civil society. It will strengthen social cohesion in Iraq.”

Mr. Ali Abdullah Albedeiri, Chairman of the National Committee on the implementation of the National Strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism, states, “the national committee gives priority to the influential role of religious leaders in society, which will be further enhanced through the network in spreading moderate discourse and will contribute to the implementation of the strategy.”

“There is a consensus among different religious sects on the need for this network. This session will provide important recommendations to proceed in forming a network to work on Preventing Violent Extremism,” states Ali Al-Qarawi, from the AlHussein Holy Shrine.

“The meeting today on establishing the network has been open and transparent to advocate for moderate speech and combatting hate speech. The goal of the network is to monitor, analyse, and respond to hate speech that leads to conflict,” says Mohammed Salah Rashad, from the Sunni Endowment.

“Today’s initiative was a first step in establishing the network to support the strategy on Preventing Violent Extremism in Iraq. We agreed on mobilizing our communities to prevent violent extremism,” states Dr. Ihsan Jafar, from the Shia Endowment.

“Today we discussed several ideas and recommendations, and we are optimistic that we will implement good initiatives under this network to prevent violent extremism before it happens,” says Raad Jabbar, from the Minorities Endowment.

Support to the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Iraq is part of UNDP’s Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.

Media contact:

Miriam Pineau, Communication Analyst | +964 790 110 1982