27.05.2012 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

Celebrating Diversity through Music and Poetry

Iraq has been a mosaic of cultural diversity throughout its long history. A myriad of cultures have interacted there and evolved in a pattern that has been repeated for generations. This diversity is deeply rooted in Iraq’s identity. Acknowledging and celebrating it is conditional in achieving peace and stability. As UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova declared, “culture helps us rise above conflicts by elucidating the factors that bring us together. It boosts the creativity that drives innovation and development”.

Under this year’s theme “Cultural Diversity in Music and Poetry”, UNESCO Iraq office celebrated the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development through organizing cultural events in Baghdad, bringing together performers and poets from all over the country.

On 25 May the Oil Cultural Centre in Baghdad hosted a unique music festival attended by around 300 people representing ­­­ the Iraqi public and private sectors, UN Agencies, NGOs and the Iraqi civil society. This special event featured four bands reflecting Iraq’s various music styles: the Iraqi Maqam ensemble (Baghdad), the Mosul Ensemble (North), the Marshes Ensemble (South), and the Badia Ensemble (Bedouin). A powerful atmosphere characterized the concert, as the richness of musical diversity inspired the audience.

On 26 May ten young men and women from different regions in Iraq gathered for a poetry contest under the theme: “Our Cultures Come Together in a Poem” in the Gardens of the Theatre Forum. Through their poems, participants expressed various aspects of their different cultures that reveal the unique identity of Iraq.

Emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity for inclusive social development, UNESCO Iraq Director Mohamed Djelid assured that “the recognition of cultural diversity for development can help to ensure that ownership of development and peace initiative is vested in the populations concerned”. The Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Jacqueline Badcock added that “cultural diversity is the societal fabric of individual nations, and full respect for human rights creates an enabling environment for fundamental freedoms”.

As cultural diversity and dialogue are crucial in promoting social inclusion and peace, UNESCO reaffirms that better knowledge and recognition of differences in Iraq leads ultimately to better mutual understanding, constructive interaction, and an environment favorable to creativity and development.

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