Date:                           November 21, 2023


U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 

Religious Freedom and Governance in Iraq

Thursday, December 7, 2023
10:30 am – 12:00 pm ET

Register Here

Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual hearing that will examine current conditions in Iraq affecting freedom of religion or belief, under both the Iraqi federal government (IFG) and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The hearing will also identify ways the U.S. government can work with the IFG and the KRG to address religious freedom concerns, especially for the country’s vulnerable religious minorities.

Despite the diminished presence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), religious freedom for all Iraqis remains precarious in the face of recent political instability and religious division; the increasing power of government-affiliated militias and other armed groups; and the continued displacement and political disenfranchisement of vulnerable religious minorities, including those ISIS targeted for genocide in 2014.

Witnesses will discuss the status of religious freedom and related official and civil society initiatives throughout Iraq, and make recommendations for how U.S. government policy can support efforts to ensure freedom of religion or belief for all Iraqis.

Opening Remarks

  • Abraham Cooper, Chair, USCIRF
  • Frederick A. Davie, Vice Chair, USCIRF
  • Frank Wolf, Commissioner, USCIRF

Pre-Recorded Remarks

  • Victoria Taylor, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Iraq & Iran), Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Gretchen Birkle, Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Religious and Ethnic Minority Programs, U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID)


  • Dr. Michael Knights, Jill and Jay Bernstein Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Salah Ali, General Coordinator, Iraq Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination Roundtable
  • Dr. Alda Benjamen, Assistant Professor, University of Dayton
  • Abid Shamdeen, Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor, Nadia’s Initiative

This hearing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public, and the media. Members of the media should register online and can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions or to schedule an interview. The video recording of the hearing will be posted on the Commission website. For any additional questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..