Seminar on Religious Diversity in Northern Iraq & Germany

This day included many activities. It started at the 10:00 am. Each Iraqi and German student prepared a presentation on different topics. The topics were presented in Potsdam University. The first presentation was about “Religious symbols in public places: headscarf, kippa, crosses”; three German students, representing the German side, and three Iraqi/Kurdish students, representing the Iraqi side, made presentations on this topic. Jolina Borgwardt, Paul Schulenburg and Benjamin Witzke, students from the German side explained how the Catholics and Protestants are distributed in Germany adding that the Catholics are the majority in Germany, however, there is no discrimination against the other minority religions. They also added that Germany secures the freedom of religion, hence, everybody may adhere to whatever beliefs they prefer. On the other side, Mariam Al-Saoor; from CUE, Thurraia; TIU and a student from SUE presented the situation in Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Maryam as a Christian girl, made a presentation about Christianity in Iraqi and how they practice faith. While the other two students made a presentation on Islam and the use of symbols in the public, teaching the religion public schools and their religious practices in the public. For instance, Thurraia illustrated the different types of head scarfs, that Muslim woman wear.

The hosting university ordered Pizza and while the German students prepared some desserts and food. This was followed by presentations on different topics. One of the topics was on “Building and running a mosque or church: Legal conditions, and in reality”. Hamza and Rahma, students from the CUE, made separate presentations on this topic. Hamza, in his turn, explained the way a mosque is built in Iraq referring to the legal process involved, while Rahma made a similar presentation on how churches are built along with the legal terms to be met.

The same topic was was presented by the German students according to German rules. The key difference is that funds used to build a church in Germany are raised from the taxes collected from German Christian citizens, while in Iraq the expenses are covered by the Ministry of Endowments.