Kurdish Provinces Exposing Students to Other Faiths

November 23, 2007


Source: The Kansas City Star/McClatchy Newspapers


Judged solely by one of the big, bold words on its cover, the book that Fadel Mahmoud clutched in his hands would be considered blasphemous in many parts of the Muslim world.

Most people in Kurdish northern Iraq believe that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, is the final word on religious life. Mahmoud and other teachers, however, are preaching a message of religious tolerance in hopes of preserving the region's relative stability.

The book in his hands is an introduction to Judaism written by an Arab.

Last month, the Kurdish Regional Government's Ministry of Religious Affairs began requiring its 19 campuses, from grade school to college, to broaden their curriculums by including courses on comparative religion that better expose students to other religious thought, including Christianity and in some cases Judaism.