Sunday, August 5, 2007

Iraqis Increasingly Reject Sectarian Identities

A recent survey of more than 7,000 Iraqis in different parts of the country, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and the private Iraqi research group, the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies, shows that Iraqis increasingly identify themselves as "Iraqis above all else."

Between April 2006 and May 2007, this perception, according to the survey's conductors, grew by more than half, with almost three-quarters of Baghdad residents viewing themselves in terms of their national identity.

Mansoor Moaddel, an University of Michigan professor and one of the collaborators in the survey, stated that this growth in national identity in Baghdad compares favorably with other Middle Eastern capitals where religious affiliations and other local relationships appear to have stronger appeal.

The survey also showed that fewer than 1 in 5 Iraqis felt that having an Islamic government is the most important goal.

The results of this survey are important, because a strong Iraqi national identity is a likely one key element to overcoming sectarian conflict and other legacies of the Saddam dictatorship, as well as ending the US military occupation and its effects.

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