Cablegate: Religious Reconciliation Conference Ends With
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2011/01 1691708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181708Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1752
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002011
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: RELIGIOUS RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE ENDS WITH
ACCORD, POTENTIAL FUTURE ACTION
1. (U) Summary: The two-day Iraqi Inter-Religious Congress
conference on the violence in Iraq brought together a
geographically and ethnically diverse group of approximately
55 religious and tribal leaders and parliamentarians.
Although the primary product of the conference was agreement
on a religious accord calling for a reduction of violence,
conference organizers highlight the vehicle for dialogue that
the event created. During a side meeting, PM Maliki
expressed to the delegation his strong support for the future
work of the Congress. End Summary.
The two-day conference
2. (U) The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the
Middle East (FRMME) and Canon Andrew White of the Anglican
Church hosted the Iraqi Inter-Religious Congress (IIRC) on
June 11-13 in Baghdad, the first of a series of conferences
to address the problems facing Iraq from a religious
perspective. The conference, which was funded by the
Department of Defense, brought together religious leaders to
discuss methods of reducing violence within Iraq and to
create a 'vehicle for dialogue' for the future.
3. (U) The delegation fluctuated around 55 delegates and was
comprised of Sunni, Shia, Christian, Kurdish, and Yezidi
religious and tribal figures. The conference organizers
noted that this was the broadest representation of religious
leaders, both by sect and geography, held in Iraq in the last
37 years. A number of parliamentarians attended the first
morning while the press was present; only two, Samia Aziz
Mohamed (PUK) and Safia al Sohail (Iraqiyya) attended the
entire event. Sheikh Fateh Kashkhif al Ghita, a Shia,
moderated the discussions throughout.
4. (U) The delegates broke into groups to work on sections of
the final conference accord and Canon White and a group of
ten delegates chosen as representatives (five Sunni, four
Shia, and a Christian), agreed upon the text of the accord
and signed it. The full text of the accord is in paragraph
5. (U) Throughout the conference, participants from all
sides, including Sunni and Shia, made strong statements of
support for the GoI and the Constitution, as well as for the
establishment of rule of law throughout the country. Many of
the religious leaders were also focused on combating
corruption throughout the GoI, and expressed worries that
this corruption was spreading to the general population.
Though facilitators refocused the conversation on the
reduction of violence, the theme of corruption appeared in
much of the discussion throughout.
Support from PM Maliki
7. (U) On the first day of the conference, a small group of
delegates was invited to the Office of Prime Minister Maliki.
According to Canon White, the PM welcomed the delegation and
told them that Iraq needed more of these conferences. The PM
also was "totally committed to this process" and "fully
backed FRRME's efforts for the Iraqi people."
8. (U) In a May 31 meeting, Canon White had told the
Ambassador that he hoped to create a council of religious
leaders who would meet regularly to discuss these issues. He
also had said that there was the possibility of a conference
in Najaf, if it received Sistani's blessing. While the IIRC
has planned some follow-up, they have yet to finalize
significant details for future actions.
9. (U) The staff of FRRME indicated that they were reluctant
to hold another conference in Baghdad, due to chronic
problems with water and electricity availability at al-Rashid
Hotel, where the conference occurred. The staff believes
that a conference held in a city such as London or Cairo
would have a much greater appeal and attract more delegates.
However, they did not rule out the possibility of a meeting
in Najaf, provided that it received the support of the
10. (U) Canon White also briefly discussed a set of four
working groups that would handle implementation of the
accord. However, it was not clear who would serve on these
working groups or what their goal was beyond simply broad
implementation of the accord. The staff of the IIRC
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indicated that the members of each of these working groups
were currently being decided. The IIRC planned for a group
the focus on religion and culture, one to focus on
international relations, one to focus on reconstruction, and
one to focus on the preservation and restoration of holy
11. (U) The English translation of the accord provided by the
IIRC can be found below:
In the name of God who is Almighty, Merciful and
We clerics, intellectuals and political leaders gathered at
this congress pray and appeal for the peace of Iraq and
declare our commitment to doing all in our power to ensure to
end all acts of violence and bloodshed which are in violation
of the right to life, freedom and dignity. "We have
dignified man" (a verse from the Holy Quran). We as Iraqis
from different traditions have decided to endeavor to live
together as one family respecting the moral and religious
integrity of every individual and we call upon all to condemn
and renounce the culture of incitement, hatred and the
demonization of the other.
According to our faith traditions killing human beings in the
name of God is a desecration of the laws of heaven and
defames religion not only in Iraq but in the world.
1. We seek to rebuild our country, the country of Iraq.
2. The acts of violence, terrorism, corruption, and all forms
of oppression are contrary to the lofty principles of all our
3. The traditions of faith from antiquity have created and
nurtured Iraq as the Land of Holy Places. The sanctity of
all our places of worship and religious sites must be
protected and preserved by all. The freedom of religious
worship must be guaranteed for all. "No coercion in
religion" (a verse from the Holy Quran).
4. While we acknowledge and encourage the efforts of the
government towards reconciliation, peace, and security we
remind the government of its commitment to the mandate it has
been given by the people. We call on the political leaders
in Iraq to support the principles of the constitution as they
work for a just, fair and peaceful democracy, according to
the divinely inspired commandments of messengers and prophets.
5. We as religious clerics are against the criminal spread of
arms in Iraqi society and ask for the removal of unauthorized
weapons to create a safer civil society.
6. We call on and urge the international community to assist
in the positive spiritual, political, and economic
reconstruction of Iraq away violence and chaos and in line
with the International Compact for Iraq.
7. We denounce Al Qaeda and other extremist groups and we
commit ourselves to a new model of truth, openness and
reconciliation which will enable the spiritual, political and
physical restoration of Iraq.
8. We shall devote ourselves to continue our joint efforts
for the unity of the people of Iraq and for the creation of a
climate of togetherness in which our present and future
generations may live with mutual trust and respect. We shall
also educate our present and future generations to maintain
this commitment while denouncing all forms of terrorism and
extremism, political, religious, or otherwise.
9. We the clerics and intellectuals seek these goals of
success, prosperity, fair governance, and religious freedom
while denouncing the corruption and misuse of authority. We
recognize these goals require us to preserve these efforts
with the integrity of our mutual commitments through a
continuing process of vested actions, committees, and
meetings that produce the results of our message. We seek
God Almighty's help in this regard and pledge to recruit
likeminded leaders and remain unwavering in our desires to
live in a free and sovereign Iraq.
10. We implore the Iraqi Government and the Parliament to
speed up and activate the recommendations of all national,
tribal, and religious reconciliation meetings in order to
achieve balance and fairness according to the capabilities
and expectations of the Iraqi people.
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