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You can watch all sessions again in the programme section.

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Speaker

About
Speaker

Hon. Mme. Layla Alkhafaji

Elected Member of Political Bureau-Alhikmah Movement, Former Member of Iraqi Council of Representatives – Parliament, Former International Relations Director – Al Hakim Foundation

Ms. Al-Khafaji studied electrical engineering at Baghdad University, graduating in 1981. She was the only woman in her class. While at university, she was pressured to join Saddam Hussein’s governing Baath Party. She refused.

Eventually, she was forced to sign “an execution agreement,” which stated that if she ever joined an organization opposed to the government, she agreed to be executed. Only three months into a government-assigned job, she was arrested. After six months, she was convicted of anti-government activity – visiting a woman whose brother was in prison – and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

When Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait led to his defeat in the First Gulf War, international pressure grew to have the regime release political prisoners. Ms. Al-Khafaji was among those let out near the end of 1991. She had spent almost 10 years behind bars.

Still subjected to frequent harassment, she was spirited to Lebanon by her family who bribed the necessary Iraqi officials. There, along with a brother and his family who had fled earlier, she walked into the Canadian embassy and asked for asylum. She upgraded her degree, went to work for Celestica, then a subsidiary of IBM, and received Canadian citizenship. Ms. Al-Khafaji helped in drafting the new Iraqi constitution, worked on the 2005 transitional election, and was elected herself in December 2005.

Today, she is close to the party’s new president Ammar al-Hakim, son of the late Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, who died earlier this year.

Ms. Al-Khafaji says it was her faith that kept her going during her years in prison, and it’s her faith that she wishes to bring to fruition in the next Iraqi government. But she insists that such a government would not be a narrow theocracy. “I learned the value of multiculturalism in Canada and I’m determined to apply it here.”

Events
Tuesday, 5.10.2021 10:30
Peace and Security: The Multi-religious Imperative Main Hall
Moderator

H.E. Amb. Marie-Therese Pictet-Althann, Order of Malta Permanent Observer to the UN Geneva; Honorary President, Religions for Peace

Keynote Speeches

Mr. Steve Killelea, International Trustee, Religions for Peace
H.E. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England
Hon. Layla Alkhafaji, Elected Member of Political Bureau-Alhikmah Movement; Former Member of Iraqi Council of Representatives – Parliament; Former International Relations Director – Al Hakim Foundation [Invited]

Inselhalle Click here to go back to the overview of the Inselhalle. There you can join the sessions in the Main Hall, chat with other participants and receive support.
Partners
Information Downloads
Closing press release of Generations in Dialogue, October 7 Download
Statement of the World Council of Religions for Peace, Lindau 2021 Download
Press kit from October 7: Closing Press Conference Download
Press Kit from October 4: Opening Day Download
Press Kit from September 15: Speakers and program - Download ZIP Download
Programme GID2021 – Download PDF Download
Apply for DW Akademie Media Training Download
Speech by H.E. Ms. Uzra Zeya Download