Iraqis today face a triple threat of foreign occupation, sectarian violence, and heavy militia recruiting. The resulting political climate is stifling and divisive to young artists and activists, who lack a public forum for censorship-free expression. This project is filling that gap, as Sunni and Shia youth flock to events, defying the logic of civil war and coming together in a shared vision of a peaceful Iraq. Participation has boomed from a few dozen to over 700 audience members.
Artist, poets, musicians, actors, and students hold monthly public performances in and around Baghdad. Open human rights trainings and capacity-building seminars are also held biweekly to build youth leaders’ organizing, writing and computer skills.
Dialoging and networking with supposed adversaries will serve participants for years to come, as the lasting effects of sectarian violence are felt. Through trainings, participants develop skills to initiate change and build alternatives to war.