Religious freedoms in the Kurdistan Region

APPG Chair Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP has tabled this Commons motion, so far supported by MPs, Jonathan Edward, Jim Shannon and Bob Blackman.

This House warmly welcomes the visit in March by His Holiness The Pope to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region where he will lead Holy Mass at the football stadium in Erbil;

fully recognises that the Kurdistan Region enjoys considerable religious and ethnic diversity, that its Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs upholds the political, civil, social, cultural, and economic rights of minorities, and that the region has also provided a safe haven for refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP) of many faiths from Syria and Iraq, including individuals fleeing religious persecution across the wider Middle East;

further recognises that Kurdistani law, passed at the height of the war against Daesh, enshrines fundamental freedoms of thought, religion, speech, and culture, mandates the KRG to guarantee equality for all groups, and criminalises religious discrimination;

notes peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, Jews, Sabie Mandani, Zoroastrians, and Bahais, that religious leaders are frequently consulted by ministers and government officials, and that the 111 strong Kurdistan Parliament includes a list of five Turkmen representatives, five Chaldean, Assyrian, and Syriac representatives, and one Armenian representative;

acknowledges that the KRG has allocated lands and built three churches and one cultural centre at its own expense for the Christian community in Erbil, that there are 135 different churches and 92 religious shrines in the region, and that there are public holidays on all religious occasions;

and proudly commends the Kurdistan Region on its record and aspirations on religious freedom as exemplary in the Middle East.

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