21May is the International Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. It is an occasion to promote different cultures as a way to show the importance of diversity as a key factor for effecting positive change within the international community. When cultural diversity is a driving force in development, not only does economic growth occur, but communities grow intellectually, emotionally, morally and spiritually.
On this day, all aspects of cultures are celebrated, including examples of tangible heritage (such as architecture and works of art) as well as intangible heritage (like musical traditions). It is a day to highlight the creative industries of different traditions and their rich forms of cultural expression. Groups come together to share their varied customs and practices and learn how to use this precious diversity to support mutual dialogue and expand understanding. The communication that takes place leads to sustainable social, environmental and economical development.
To mark this important day, the Iraqi Social Forum hosted a Ramadan activity called Tihlaya, during which ISF volunteers and friends, along with their families, came together to celebrate. They shared in Iftar (a meal taken at dinner time to break the fast) accompanied by music played by musicians from the ISF’s Arts of Peace team. After the meal, people enjoyed interactive games developed by visual artists, also from the Arts of Peace team, that created an opportunity for cultural and social expression. The team also performed a play which used humor to represent the struggles encountered by many Iraqi students as they pursue their dreams.
The Iraqi Social Forum is an active space composed of organizations and volunteer groups that work on peacebuilding and the cultivation of a culture of nonviolence in Baghdad and other provinces in Iraq. The activities described here were part of its larger project, “Youth of Mesopotamia for Democratic Governance and Peaceful Coexistence in Iraq”, which it organizes in cooperation with the Information Center for Research and Development, the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, the Italian organization Un Ponte Per…, with added support from the Norwegian Karibu Foundation.
The Iraqi Social Forum