Name of the project:

Building National Unity among Iraqis

Name of the organization (in English):

 Tolerancy International


Name of the organization (in original language): 

التسامحية العالمية


 Erbil, Rasti, Behind Naza Mall



Phone and fax numbers; e-mail address:

00964 (0) 66256 9032

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Project Director/ Organization Representative:

 Dr Sandra Phelps in Erbil is the Project Manager


Adnan Mayah as Project Coordinator, Erbil


Background of the Project Director:

 Dr. Sandra Phelps was awarded a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree majoring in Education and Sociology from the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She was awarded a Masters of Arts degree with first class honors at the University of Waikato and a PhD in the department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, Australia.


She has worked as a lecturer in Sociology since 1998. Since 2006, she has been employed as a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Kurdistan Hawler.


Her research interests include the national representation of human rights especially those of minorities. She is currently researching the intersecting roles of gender, religion and ethnicity in Iraq and is an avid participant and presenter at many international academic conferences.


Background on the organization:

 TOLERANCY INTERNATIONAL (TI), based in Erbil, is a non-governmental organization (NGO), founded in January 2007 by Hussain Sinjari. Hussain Sinjari, a former Kurdish Minister, is an independent liberal.


 TI is a foundation that strives for tolerance, reformation, secularism and the establishment of liberal values such as, national reconciliation and compromise, amnesty, human rights, minority and women’s rights, freedom of the press, transparency and the rule of law, free development of the individual within the context of rights and liberties, so that these ideals become a way of life and ensure the evolution stable secular democracies in Iraq and the Middle East.


TI focuses on helping civil society emerge and develop on a secular and democratic basis.


TI aims to achieve the following goals in Iraq and the Middle East:


  • Encourage and support dialogue among clergy men and women and followers of all faiths to find a common ground for understanding and acceptance of each other.
  • Support campaigns to ensure freedom of expression and faith worldwide.
  • Inspire politicians, leaders and other decision-makers to place the concept of tolerance at the core of all plans, strategies and policies.
  • Encourage educators to adopt interdisciplinary curricula and to promote tolerant thinking at schools, universities and other educational institutions in all academic disciplines.
  • Assist government officials, diplomats and others in influencing government policy for the furtherance of international cooperation in tolerance-building strategies.
  • Stimulate, create and implement tolerance-building legislation on a global level.
  • Raise awareness of women and men, individuals from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, organizations, trade unions, NGOs, clergymen and clergywomen from all faiths to promote tolerant ideals and values among all peoples and countries.



Any previous U.S. Government funding:




Project dates:

- Three months



Amount requested (in US $):

 - $90,180



Project Summary/Executive Summary, Purpose & Description:

Iraq’s citizens have often been victimized by extremist’s ideas. Conflicts, instability, lack of social solidarity, sectarianism and other destructive forces have found strongholds and some feel that democracy-building is futile. Failed states, lack of rights and pockets of corruption, can contribute to disillusionment and feelings of hopelessness among Iraq’s citizens.


Tolerancy International (TI) is organizing workshops to encourage religious leaders and their followers in Iraq to build peaceful reconciliation. TI is committed to enhancing peace-building, tolerance-building and conflict mediation in order to establish fertile ground for democracy and the reconstruction and reunification of Iraq.


 TI will organize a 3-day workshop entitled “Towards Tolerance-Building in IRAQ”.


The workshop will be held in Erbil, the capital of the Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, in December 2008. Religious leaders, clergymen and representatives of different faiths in Iraq will be invited to participate, along with representatives of leading Iraqi NGOs, trade unions, journalists, businesspeople and parliamentarians. Sixty participants will engage in discussing the following topics:

 1-      Replacing hate-speech with shared values of peace, tolerance-building and reconciliation.

2-      Religion in a globalized world: problems and solutions.

3-      Religion and Education Reforms.

4-      Building a “Tolerance National Secretariat”

5-      Respect for Religious Diversity and Minority Rights

 A detailed agenda for the workshop, as well as details about the subjects of these workshops and suggested names for attendees, are attached.  

 Project Goal:

- The main goal of this project is to enhance security and national unity in Iraq by opening the doors of communication necessary for religious, educational and political reform.


Project Justification:

 These workshops will contribute to the education of the community by teaching individuals how to accept differences and respect other religions, ideologies and ethnic groups. The intention of these workshops is to lay the groundwork for religious, educational and political reform. Reform and widespread tolerance will enhance security, national unity and economic development in Iraq. These initial workshops, by creating a consensus on the need for reform, will be the first step in opening a dialogue between different religious and ethnic groups.




Project Sustainability:

 A Tolerancy National Secretariat (TNS) will be formed as a main result of the workshops. It will consist of three employees: a chief, an assistant and a coordinator. TNS will be responsible for following up on the recommendations from the workshops with relevant ministries in Baghdad and Erbil, such as the ministries of education, culture and Awqaf. Going forward, TNS will also be responsible for the planning and preparation of annual workshops in selected venues in Iraq.


In addition, TNS will develop a website and prepare an email list of interested parties and key speakers. TNS will publish in its web opinions to encourage open debate and discussion on the subject of religious reconciliation in Iraq and the wider Middle East. TNS will also develop a network of NGOs and individuals in Iraq in order to broaden their efforts into a sustainable nation-wide grassroots movement.


Detailed description of the Planned Project Activities:

 TI will spend two months preparing for the workshops. During that period, TI will communicate with the Ministry of Awqaf in Baghdad, the Ministry of Awqaf in Kurdistan and NGOs from all Iraqi governorates in order to gather names of vetted candidates for potential workshop attendees. Iraq’s diversity should be reflected among these attendees and this fact will be taken in consideration during the selection process. Twenty-five attendees will be selected from Baghdad and the middle governorates, 18 Attendees from southern governorates and 17 attendees from northern governorates.


During the preparation period, administration staff will also prepare workshop materials and organize workshop logistics as well as transportation and lodging of the attendees. There will be simultaneous translation in 3 languages: Arabic, English and Kurdish. All debates and workshops discussions will be simultaneously translated into the 3 languages. TI will designate a branch of its website to these workshops. The website will help advertise for the workshops and promote the issues of building religious tolerance and respect for the rights of minority groups. All speeches, debates, discussions, workshops' details, recommendations and events will appear in a form of report/book covering all events of the conference, in the 3 languages: Arabic, English and Kurdish.


 As a result of the three-day workshop, a secretariat will be formed that will take responsibility for following up on the recommendations with the ministries of education, culture and Awqaf in Baghdad and Erbil. The secretariat will also be responsible for the organization of future workshops and maintaining dialogue between all parties.


 Workshop Schedule:

 First Day; Monday, Dec 1, 2008


First session

09.00 -10.30 AM    Registration

10.30- 10.40 AM    Welcome speech, Hussain Sinjari, President of TI

10:40-10:50 AM     H.E Sheaikh Mohamed Shakaly, Minister of Awqaf, Erbil

10:50-11:00 AM     Hussain AlShami, President, Shiite Waqf, Baghdad

11:10-11:20 AM     Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ghafoor Al-Samurai, President of Sunni Waqf

11:20-11:30 AM     Father Andrew White, London, UK

11:30-11:40 AM     Prince Tehseen Beg, Prince of the Yezidis

11:40-11:50 AM     Sheikh Sattar Al-Helo, Leader of Sabia Mendain

11:50-12:00 PM     Habib Afram, President of Tabayn Christian Studies, Beruit, Lebanon.

(Speakers will be confirmed at a later date.)

12:00-12:10 PM   Tea Break

 12:10-12:20 PM      "The Rebuilding of The Middle Class and The Building of Culture of Tolerance In Iraq": Dr. Rubar Sandi, Chairman, The Sandi Group, and Washington, USA


12:20-12:30 PM      "Democracy & Religion": Dr. Laith Kubba, NED, And Washington, USA

12:30-12:40 PM      "Traditions of Tolerance in The Iraqi Society": Dr. Falih Abdul-Jabbar, Director, Iraqi Institute of Strategic Studies

12:40-12:50 PM      "The Building of a Culture of Tolerance in Europe, A Historical Introduction": Dr Khalid Younis, University of Stockholm, Sweden

12:50-1:00   PM      "Minorities: Respect and Rights": Mr. Yonadam Kanna, MP (Kaldo    Assyrian)

1:00-3:00     PM                 Lunch    

Second session

03:00- 03:30 PM     Abdulrahman Sidiq, Chairman, Former Iraqi Minister of Environment (2003-2004), Advisor of the seminar, will open the floor for discussion about the points raised in session one. He will be assisted by the following four panelists:

                        1- Sheikh Farhan, Dean of the College of Al-Ma'arifa.

                        2- Mr. Sadadin Arkej, MP (Turkmen)

                        3- Mr. Nazar Yaser Seker, Vice-Chair IMC (Mandaen Sabian)

                        4- Mr. Louis Climis, Public Relations IMC (Kaldo Assyrian)

03:00-03:30 PM   Tea Break

03:30-05:00 PM    Discussion of topics in session two.

05:00-05:10 PM    Explanation about workshops' organization for day two

05:10 PM End of Day one

 Second Day; Tuesday, Dec 2, 2008

Third session

      08:00- 9:30   AM         Breakfast           

      09.30- 11.30 AM          Workshops meetings

 Workshop I: "The Role of Religion in National Reconciliation In Iraq":

(Each of the following will give an introductory speech on the appropriate subject for 7-10 minutes).


Dr. Mahdi Al-Hafidh, Former Iraqi Minister of Planning, Director, "Progress, Institute for Strategic studies, Baghdad."


Sheikh Salih Hamadi, Chairman of "Ulama Society," Mosul.

Khalill Ibrahim, MP, Erbil

Dr. Falih Abdul-Jabbar, Director, Iraqi Institute for Strategic Studies, Beirut, Lebanon.

Dr. Khalid Younis, Professor of Politics, Stockholm/Upsala, Sweden

 Workshop II: "Religion and the Media":


Adnan Hussain, Journalist, London/Kwait


Dr Sheikh Mohammed Gaznaie, Professor, University of Salahaddin, Erbil

Hasan Taha Hasan, Islamic writer and researcher, Mosul

Habib Afram, President, The Assyrian Yabayn, Beirut, Lebanon

Dr. Memo Farhan, Former Minister, Yezidi, Baghdad

Workshop III: School Curriculum:


Dr. Laith Kubba, NED, Director of ME program, Washington, USA


Prof. Hasan Chalabi, Professor of Constitutional Law, Beirut, Lebanon

Sheikh Kheirullah Albasri, MP and Imam, Baghdad

Sheikh Ghanim Al-Ethan, Imam, Muthna Mosque, Mosul

Workshop IV: "Common Values and Shared Principles":         


Mohamed Abdul-Jabbar Shabout, Editor, Islam and Democracy Magazine, Baghdad


Pier Khidir Sleman, Researcher on Yezidis, Duhok/Baghdad

Sheikh Rayan Tawfik, Islamic Thinker, Dubai, UAE.

Ms. Fayha Zeenal Abdeen Hasan, Former Member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Member of the IMC (Turkmen)

 (All named speakers above will be confirmed at a later stage.)


       11:30-12:00 PM           Tea break

      12:00-01:00 PM            Workshops meetings

      01:00-03:00 PM           Lunch

       Forth session

      04:00-06:00 PM            Preliminary meeting: Reports from the workshops

      06:00            PM           End of day two

      08:30            PM          Dinner  


Third Day; Wednesday, October 27, 2008

      08:10-10:00 AM          Breakfast           

      10.00- 11.00 AM          Meetings of the workshops' moderators

      11:00-01:00 PM            Preliminary meeting: Open discussion of the workshops with recommendations.

      01:00-01:30 PM            Press conference

      01:30-03:00 PM            Lunch

                                            Keynote speaker: Mr. Robin Brims, president of Kurdistan University/Hawler.

      09:00             PM          Reception

Workshop Descriptions:

- Workshop I:

The role of religion in national reconciliation:


This workshop will discuss how the different religions of Iraq can assist in national reconciliation, democracy building and conflict mitigation. Differences and arguments should be solved via peaceful means and the workshop will teach religious leaders how they can encourage this approach. Dialogue will be encouraged, along with an understanding of personal responsibility, to provide a vision of a respectful co-existence.


 - Workshop II:

 Religion and the Media:


The media plays an important role in building a culture of tolerance. During the workshop, religious leaders will discuss how to replace hate-speech and incitements of violence with messages of peace, respect for religious and ethnic differences and love for one’s fellow countrymen. Discussions will focus on ways in which the media can be engaged in disseminating a vision of peaceful co-existence, including democratic problem solving, for the future of all religions in Iraq.

 - Workshop III:

 School Curriculum Reform:


 The workshop will focus on the need for reform in schools. Starting from an early age, children should be encouraged to be open-minded about differences in religious identities and ways of worship. During the workshop, religious representatives will evaluate the problems facing young people in schools and suggest solutions. It will be stressed that the goal of education is to foster responsible attitudes and provide the skills for a collectively positive future.

- Workshop IV

 Common Values and Shared Principles:


 The workshop will explore the fact that different religious and ethic groups have in essence shared human values such as human dignity, human rights, respect for minorities and belief in the power of peace. Iraq’s different religions and ethnicities can unite on these values and spread a singular vision of responsibility, community building and respect for plurality based on democratic values.


 Each of these workshop sessions will have independent facilitators (moderators) who will be carefully selected and confirmed in advance. The facilitators will include experts on the themes in order to initiate ideas and introduce points for discussions. Facilitators will remain neutral during the discussion and work to instigate lively discussion among all participants.


 Each workshop session will produce recommendations for future initiatives. The recommendation will be collected and given to the Secretariat to implement. The Secretariat will have a secure relationship with the local media, facilitating widespread understanding of the need to enhance religious dialogue.


 Anticipated Results:


 All the recommendations that arise during the workshops will be followed up, by the Secretariat (TNS), with the relevant ministries in Baghdad and Erbil. TNS will organize future workshops on a regular annual basis in selected venues through out Iraq. TNS will develop a website and prepare an email list of interested parties and key speakers. TNS will publish in its web opinions to encourage open debate and discussion on the subjects of religious reconciliations in Iraq. TNS will also develop a network of Iraqi NGOs and individuals.


As a result of all these follow-up activities, the initial efforts of participants during the workshop will grow into a sustainable nationwide grassroots movement that will bring messages of tolerance, and the impetus for changing intolerant policies, to all corners of Iraq.


Direct beneficiaries:

Workshop Participants:

  • Sixty community/religious leaders, clergymen and representatives of different faiths in Iraq
  • Ten project staff

Indirect beneficiaries:

  • Minority citizens who suffer from discrimination
  • Specifically, Christians, Sabian -Mandain, Yizidian, Shabak and others who form around 4.1% of Iraqi populations (around 1,189,000 citizens)
  • This will be particularly helpful in Mosul province where minorities are enduring cruel attacks.
  • Majority populations will also benefit from tolerance-building, as it will increase security and bolster economic development in communities.


The project will be coordinated between Tolerancy International, DAI and RRT/ Erbil Officer Action.


How will you meet the program and financial reporting requirements?

- The financial assistant will prepare the financial report for the project manager to review and confirm.


Other sources of support for this project:

-      Tolerancy International will contribute $13,700 to provide office requirements, including the necessary furniture, computers, printer, scanner, stationery supplies, internet service, communication costs, and one year of hosting information about the project event and secretariat's activities on its website.

-      TI will also contribute a one-year salary for each of the three staff members of the resulting secretariat (the secretariat's chief, the secretariat's assistant and the secretariat's coordinator), who will continue working toward the project’s goals, implement the recommendations arising from the workshop and facilitate communication between government ministries and community leaders; the three salaries are estimated at $36000

Total contribution of TI = $49,700.00


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