An annual event shows what the Iraqi people want most of all: peace. Young people in Baghdad organise a major street carnival to set positive images against the daily news of violence and war. The event has also given rise to regular participation in civil society.
By Eva-Maria Verfurth and Qayssar Alwardii
Iraq is a divided country haunted by violence. A political solution seems a long way off. On UN World Peace Day, 21 September, 2017, Baghdad will host the City of Peace Carnival “ a major event. According to its organisers, it attracted around 15,000 in 2015 and 23,000 people last year. In 2016, 500 volunteers contributed to make it happen. The spectators span all generations and ethnic groups. Broadcasted live on TV and radio, the event features music and dance performances, play areas for children, art and craft stalls and discussion groups. Everything is put together by hundreds of young organisers in months of hard work. Qayssar Alwardii is one of them. He says: “³The Peace Carnival is a symbol of hope, especially for young people.”³ The idea for the carnival was born a few years ago when a group of young activists googled images of their city. Every picture that came up was of war or destruction. Determined to create new images of their city, the activists founded the Baghdad City of Peace Carnival.
“³Many people say it’s crazy to celebrate peace in the current situation. They ask: ‘What peace?'”³ But Alwardii and his fellow campaigners will not be discouraged. They see peace as more than the absence of armed violence. Peace, to them, is a life marked by fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and movement and with peaceful interaction in society. The carnival is supposed to promote this notion: “³Our dream is to make the city of Baghdad a better place and help to create a better society for future generations.”³
(Extracted from qantara.de)