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03/12/2020 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Iraq’s main religious leaders have adopted an interfaith statement regarding the victims of the Islamic State (ISIS) following the urging of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD).

The statement condemns the violence of ISIS as contradictory to the signatories various faiths. It discusses how members of all religions were negatively impacted by ISIS, and that survivors should be supported in their efforts to restart their lives in their own communities. The statement recognizes the heroism of many who stood in defense of those from other religious or ethnic background during the height of ISIS’s crimes. The statement is non-binding and does not include any steps that will be taken to address the underlying issues which contributed to the rise of ISIS.

There are several of these issues which religious minorities often point towards when discussing how it was possible for the Islamic State to gain traction in Iraq. Although there is a government, there is no rule of law. Tribes are stronger than the government, as well as loyalties to individual personalities. This continues to be a problem today, especially now as the government undergoes several transitions. An absence of law allows for paramilitary groups to gain social traction, a perfect environment for terrorist entities to grow. A history of religious conflict between Sunni and Shia groups in Iraq also contributed to a sense of exclusion from what little Iraq has to offer its citizens, encouraging individuals to explore the more extremist elements of society.

Each of these issues persists to this day. While interfaith statements are important, it is only until these root issues are addressed that Iraq will be able to move beyond the cycle of genocide which has existed for decades in society.

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