Church Service: Peter & Paul Church – Potsdam & Seminar

10 am: Church Service at Peter-und-Paul-Kirche location: Am Bassin 2, 14467 Potsdam
Individual lunch
2 pm: Seminar Religious Diversity in Northern Iraq and Germany location: University of Potsdam, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam, house 8, room 0.58

In the early Sunday morning, all the Christian participants from the Iraqi side, in addition to the Muslim ones, attended a service at St. Peter and Paul Church where Dr. Hafnar serves as a deacon. It is a historical church with an archaic style of building. . See Appendix #1. The CUE students contributed in the mass through singing ‘Our Father’ hymn in Syriac (neo-Aramaic) language. Then a member of SUE made a recitation of a prayer in Kurdish.

Appendix #1: a group picture of the Iraqi student and staff with Dr. Hafner and Dr. Stephan

Then, the group headed to the campus of Potsdam University for the first time and met new students from the university. After that, tow students made a on the relationship between state and religion as provided by the constitutions of Iraq and Germany. Highlighting that the key difference between the two is that German constitution is more secular and that religion is not the source of legislation in Germany. By contrast, Islam is the source of legislation ion Iraq. The presentation followed an open discussion by both sides sharing new information. This was followed by a coffee break.
Afterwards, four students from each side, Iraqi and German, held a testimonial in form of four groups separated around the campus.

The topic of the discussion was ‘Belonging to a Religious Community, religious and legal consequences of apostasy and conversion’. It was a good opportunity for the students to know one another and share their local experiences. A pair of students, each from one side- one German and one Iraqi- led the testimonial, and then presented their conclusions in front of the other participants, including the staff. Concluding the testimonial, the German side was way more open in terms of granting freedom for the citizen in converting their religion or staying in it. On the other hand, Iraqi constitution appeared quite strict in terms of conversion, since it is forbidden for Muslims to convert to other religions, while others – non-Muslims – are allowed to convert to Islam.

Appendix #2: Pictures for groups of German and Iraqi students discussing the topic ‘how do I express my religiosity’