Networks For Change

In conversation with MP Mohammedali Yaseen Taha from Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

‘In IPPFoRB, we learn from each other and I took one of those learnings back home and implemented it in my country.’

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On a sunny morning, the last day of the IPPFoRB Academy 2018, Mohammedali observes the traditional buildings Oxford has to offer.

Having taken a unique journey into politics, he joined the IPPFoRB back in 2015 when the network was at a nascent stage. ‘I entered politics because I thought what I read in books is possible to implement but, they are totally different worlds…politics and academia’, laughed Mohammedali.

While academia and politics may be faraway worlds for him, Mohamammedali created his own political success story by being instrumental in introducing a bylaw for setting up the first-ever All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the Kurdish parliament.

Bringing about change, one APPG at a time

‘After the Bucharest workshop a few months back, I went back home with this idea of finding alternative ways to engage in freedom of religion or belief in my country’, he noted. Held in June 2018, the Bucharest Workshop discussed issues and challenges pertaining to FoRB across the Balkans and South Caucuses.

A strong advocate of networks, Mohammedali believes in the power of learning and sharing through collective groups, whether that is on social media or in Parliament.

‘I proposed an amendment to the bylaw of the Kurdish parliament and as a result the amendment succeeded. For the first time in our parliament, we introduced APPG’s in the bylaw of the parliament. We now wait for its implementation’, he proudly said.

Seen as informal platforms, APPG’s are groups that effectively bring together parliamentarians with common political interests who wish to raise awareness and contribute to working on similar topics. In the past, the IPPFoRB has assisted parliamentarians in creating APPG’s in the UK, Norway and Denmark.

‘My aim to introduce APPG in Kurdistan is for FoRB but of course, such a move may result in committees being formed that cover other topics. I would be happy if it benefits more people’, he explained.

For him, an APPG on FoRB in his Parliament was the best step forward to engage like-minded parliamentarians in a dialogue on FoRB, human rights and other similar issues.

For the future

As the first and only MP from his country in the IPPFoRB network, Mohammedali not only wants to expand the membership from his country in this network but also believes in having more engagement on freedom of religion or belief in his country and globally.

‘I am intending to introduce more people to this network from my country’, he hoped.

Passionate about freedom of religion or belief and having interacted with over 200 parliamentarians at various IPPFoRB events, he ended by saying, ‘the IPPFoRB network has bought a number of us together to bring about a change in this field. Together, we can solve FoRB issues around the world’.

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