After Decades of Suppression, Baha'is Celebrate Publicly in Baghdad

The ceremony included a set of activities, including a joint prayer that stressed the importance of men and women praying together along with people of all ages and different religious backgrounds. They prayed for the unity and safety of Iraq. Solidarity speeches were given by speakers who asked guests to show solidarity with Baha’is to obtain official recognition as an Iraqi religious minority.

They asked for support to rescind the law on prohibiting Baha’i activity, which is still in effect despite the fact that the law contradicts the 2005 constitution, which guarantees freedom of belief to all citizens. The ceremony was concluded with a screening of a film about the life of Baha'u'llah in Arabic to present the history of the Baha’i faith and its underlying principles to the attendees.

Diaa Yaa’qoub, a member of the Central Baha’i Forum, explained the main message of the ceremony. He told Al-Monitor, “The celebration meant to assert the principles of the Baha’i faith, which denounce intolerance and violence, instill gender equality, and make science and religion in concord with each other as well as separate religion from politics, which are principles instilling values of peaceful coexistence and dialogue at a critical time for post-[Islamic State] Iraq amid the loss of confidence among the religious constituents of society.”

The participation of parliament members in the ceremony highlighted the importance of religious diversity in Iraqi society as well as the responsibility of parliament members to communicate with a religious minority that was subjected to systematic persecution, according to member of parliament Shorouq al-Abaiji. Abaiji, the general secretary of the Civil National Movement, spoke to Al-Monitor about the importance of engaging the parliament in rescinding the law prohibiting the Baha’i faith 47 years after it was first issued.

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