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Religious Pluralism in Syria: The Special Case of the North East

July 13, 2021 at 10:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT


The multi-ethnic, multi-religious citizens of Northern and Eastern Syria entered into a social contract for self-governance in 2014 after the Assad regime abandoned the area in the face of ISIS attacks. Unique in the Middle East, the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria provides women and all ethnic and religious groups with equal rights under law and even the right to participate as leaders in a pluralistic democracy. Conversion from one faith to another and religious freedom are permitted. Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is one of three official languages (in addition to Kurdish and Arabic) and taught in public schools. Panelists will describe how the pluralistic model has lasted despite seven years of war with ISIS and Turkish military aggression. Policy recommendations will be discussed on how the international community can support the region’s continued autonomy and expand these innovations to all of Syria and other parts of the Middle East. Inclusive democracy and religious freedom are the only way to end conflict in Syria and the region.


Lauren B. Homer (Moderator): President & Founder of Law and Liberty International, Member IRF Roundtable Steering Committee, Chair Middle East Working Group.

Nadine Bessler Maenza: Commissioner and Chair, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, President, Patriot Voices

Bassam Ishak: Member, Executive Committee, Syrian Democratic Council, Co-chair SDC Representative Office in Washington, DC, President, Syriac National Council of Syria

Amy Austin Holmes: Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center Middle East Program, International Affairs Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Special Guests from AANES:

Bedran Çiya Kurd, Deputy Co-President, Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria

Fawza al-Yosuf, Democratic Union Party (PYD)


July 13, 2021
10:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT




Law and Liberty International
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