17 November 2018
In just one week, the Najaf Social Forum organized 4 different and exciting events. The first took place on 26 September and built upon a ceremony commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. People gathered together under the Bridge of the Revolution of 1920 to light candles and spread words of peace written on colorful paper. On 26 September, the Najaf Social Forum deepened the effects of this beautiful ceremony by creating a space for a discussion of the meaning of the words “Al-Hussein Unites Us” .
The discussion was attended by Sheikh Ammar al-Jubouri, a professor at Hawza (a religious school in Najaf) and Mr. Muslim Al-Husseini, a social researcher, along with many young people and academics in Najaf. “Al-Hussain’s revolution gave generations a lesson on altruism and the importance of remaining united despite all the sacrifices this unity may require,” the Sheikh said. He also stressed the need to learn from Imam Hussein and his companions, emphasizing how they were all equal despite differences of race and ethnicity. Then Al-Husseini spoke about the many challenges that Iraqis are facing right now; drawing on ideas and perspectives from other participants, he explored ways to confront extremism, and considered how to build a humane world based on the principles of Imam Hussein. The audience was engaged throughout the discussion and young people in particular thought about how to build confidence in themselves and learn from the sacrifices of others to achieve common goals.
The second event, ”Peace is Our Life”, was held on 27 September and explored similar themes. This time, Dr. Fares Al-Sultani, a lecturer at the University of Kufa, and Ms. Suhad Al-Khatib, the President of the Women’s Association in Najaf, engaged participants in a discussion about the importance of peaceful coexistence and looking out for the good of others, not just one’s own. Then they met with the forum coordinator, Ali Al-Aboudi, who moderated the discussion. “How beautiful we are together, uniting here in one session to wake up the spirit of the people once again by bringing all our opinions into conversation with each other.” He added thoughts about the month of Muharam (September) when “all people come together to reflect on Al-Hussain’s ideas, which taught us about the human strength to stand up to tyranny.” “Social peace,” Al-Khatib added, “is the ambition of all Iraqis,” and he went on to stress that all religions call for peace, and that building this in a time of peace is much better than in a time of war. She focused on the importance of women in establishing peace and what an important and distinctive role they play in creating a harmonious society. The audience responded with questions that initiated a lively debate with the speakers. The conversation that followed gave the impression that everyone present was calling for a rejection of the hatred and an embracing of acceptance in all areas of life, religious, cultural and political. Iraq emerged as a multi-faceted yet unified nation, rich in its long history and able to thrive in all of its unique diversity.
On 28 September, there was a third event in which young members of the forum participated in various activities including improvisation, discussion and drama. They also made a short documentary film on”Peace is Our Life”.
To conclude all these activities, the Najaf Social Forum celebrated World Peace Day on 30 September at the Grand Jwahiry Hall, run by a number of youth teams in the province. The poet, Maan Ghaleb, gave a speech about peace which moved and inspired the audience. The director of the celebration, Ali Al-Abboudi, spoke on the value of freedom and the rejection of hatred. These speeches were followed by theatrical performances: the first play was called “Nqout” by Hussein Najm, and directed by Haidar Khattab. It starred two young men, Amir Haider and Mustafa Al Khalidi. The second, ”Siham” (Arrows) by Kawthar Al-Khuwailidi and directed by Al-Fathli, was peformed by Nour Al-Attiyah. The last play, “Sarkhat Watan” (Home’s Scream), starred Dr. Khattab, Mustafa Kazem and Fares Al-Shammari. On the sidelines of the celebration, the young people of the forum set up a small gallery dedicated to peace.
Those who contributed to putting on the events honored the members of the Forum with appreciation certificates.
The Najaf Social Forum works in coordination with the Iraqi Social Forum, in partnership with Information Center for Research and Development, the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, and the Italian organization, Un Ponte Per… with funding from the Swiss Foundation FAI.