- Where – Iraq (The Middle East)
- Website – reconciliationproject.org
- Contact Person – Sami Rasouli
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address – Hay Al-Ghadeer, Najaf, Iraq
- Other – email@example.com
Areas of Expertise
Muslim Peacemaker Teams has expertise in a range of areas, including:
- Advocacy and Lobbying
- Community Development
- Sustainable Human Development
Main Aims and Objectives
MPT is an Iraqi-registered NGO and began in response to the violence that erupted in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. MPT has no political ambition or religious agenda.
The mission of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT) is to bring all Iraqi groups together in peace to work for the good of the country by getting in the way of violence while encouraging the people to be self sufficient. MPT’s immediate goals are to teach peace and human rights so the Iraqi people can once again live in a civil society, to help the people to maintain their physical health, and to lift their spirits by providing encouragement and support
MPT’s projects are developed in response to the constantly changing needs of a population deeply stressed by violence, chaos, the devastation of war and enduring occupation and economic deprivation.
Upholding the Principles of Conflict Transformation
The Muslim Peacemaker Teams work with all groups in Iraq to build a shared commitment to nonviolence and peace. MPT is committed to all of the Principles of Conflict Transformation. Some examples of activities supporting these principles include:
- Taking a team of Shia leaders from Najaf to the Sunni town of Fallujah to help with clean-up after the US destroyed much of Fallujah.
- Providing leadership and nonviolence training to Iraqi youth and organizing a youth soccer team to play friendly matches across Iraq and promote cross-sectarian peace and friendship;
- Working with the United Nations Office for Project Services to hold community discussions on Iraq’s new constitution prior to its passage;
- Establishing Minneapolis, USA and Najaf, Iraq as official Sister Cities, which has led to numerous delegation exchanges of artists, government officials, professionals, and academics (currently the Najaf, Iraq Chamber of Commerce President is in Minneapolis to expand trade between the two cities);
- Supporting women’s rights in Iraq through the Women’s Center for Culture and Arts in Najaf, Iraq; and
- Providing thousands of students in Iraq access to clean water through the Water for Peace project;
- Bringing authentic Iraqi art and culture to the U.S. through the Iraqi Art Project;
- Facilitating the exchange of thousands of letters between Iraqi and American students through the Letters for Peace project;
Where and with Whom
MPT works with a variety of non-governmental and governmental entities in Iraq. Outside of Iraq, MPT works with its partner non-profit organization in the US, the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP). IARP provides support for MPT and raises awareness of their work in the US.
Main Activities in the Field of Conflict Transformation
Some of MPT’s projects include:
1. Designing resiliency projects for a variety of community needs. MPT works closely with local communities and is ready to respond quickly to both needs and opportunities as they arise:
- In spring, 2007, MPT conducted a Reconciliation Project, funded by the United Nations, to settle controversy about parts of the Iraqi constitution.
- In 2008, MPT responded to a cholera outbreak by educating restaurateurs and families in their homes about cholera prevention.
- Currently, MPT is fundraising to build and staff a Cancer Center with diagnostic services. (At this time, the only Iraqi diagnostic cancer center is in Baghdad.)
- Currently, MPT is protecting the health of children and youth by procuring and installing water filters for elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.
2. Providing training to raise awareness about the roots of nonviolence in Islamic teaching.
3. Educating about and supporting the important role Iraqi women have in rebuilding a peaceful society that protects their rights in a free and democratic Iraq:
- MPT works closely with NGOs, led by women members, to offer vocational training for women that includes literacy, tailoring, computer literacy and leadership skills in rural and urban areas.
- In MPT meetings, women and men are invited to sit side by side. Women address meetings and teach skills such as forgiveness and accepting each other.
4. Promoting nonviolence projects using artwork done by local Iraqi artists:
- In 2007, MPT sponsored an art exhibit promoting nonviolence that featured work by artists of both genders, children and adults.
5. Developing intercultural understanding through the exchange of art and letters of friendship between American and Iraqi children and adults:
- Each spring, from 2004 through today, Iraqi paintings are displayed in the U.S. at churches, colleges, art crawls and galleries to build cultural bridges between our peoples.
MPT and North American friends gather letters from schoolchildren writing about their desires for peace. The letters are shared on a website. U.S. teachers also develop lessons about Iraqi children, their art and culture, and their school experiences to share with U.S. children.
History and Background of MPT:
The first Gulf war, the years of sanctions, and now a second war have left Iraq in shambles. Where once it was a country with a highly educated populace and reasonable security for most, Iraq’s civil society has been shattered by a ruined economy. Unemployment is 50% to 60% in many parts of Iraq, and people have turned to violence in desperation to exist. No one is secure from thieves or kidnappers. Compounding this situation is a destroyed infrastructure, wrecked housing, clinics, hospitals, and schools, and the lack of funds for the simplest of things like trash collection. People are overwhelmed and do not know where to begin in order to make improvements to their lives. The Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT) is a source of support and encouragement to the Iraqi people, and our leadership is necessary to get things back on the right path, while teaching peace through word and example. MPT is focusing on the immediate needs of the people, which were determined by a consensus of its members.
The idea for a Muslim Peacemaker Teams developed in January of 2005 in the spirit of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) that work in Iraq and several other countries. CPT is a non-profit organization based in Chicago and Toronto that is committed to supporting communities struggling with violence and was founded in 1984 by the Brethren, Quaker, and Mennonite Churches and is also partnered with other peace churches. While working with the Iraqi Human Rights Watch in Karbala, Sami Rasouli met CPT members and liked what they had to offer. They had deeply passionate and selfless solidarity, including fellowship and respectful capacity building. Sami also liked that CPT was not proselytizing or patronizing and did not offer money or propaganda. Sami requested that CPT train Muslim men and women to be peacemakers so they could work with CPT members. After a week of intensive training in the skills of documentation and observation, nonviolent intervention and patience, 15 Muslims became peacemakers. Acting out everyday events such as the 2 and 3 day wait in the gasoline lines gave them opportunities to use nonviolent means to resolve differences. Working through their own hurts and biases in order to be open to others’ feelings and experiences were also included in the training. They took the name Muslim Peacemakers Team and chose Sami Rasouli as their director and Mr. Hussein Al Ibraheemy as co-director.