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Iraq’s Religious Minorities: On the Precipice

John Calabrese


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is often described as the cradle of the three Abrahamic faiths and Iraq as a land “where faith was born.” But the past two decades have dealt a severe, possibly fatal blow to religious communities that were once vibrant and integral parts of Iraq’s social fabric—and perhaps to the very idea of pluralism in the region. Ensuring the continued presence of religious minority communities is vital to preserving Iraq’s social diversity and nurturing a culture of pluralism. Iraq’s best hope to save its vanishing minorities from extinction and revive religious pluralism lies in the Iraqi Region of Kurdistan (IRK). Fully incorporating displaced non-Muslim components of Iraqi society into host communities in the IRK while preserving their distinctive collective identity would advance the prospects for the survival of religious minorities and the future of pluralism in the IRK, the country at large, and the wider region.

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pp. 290–307