Harry, Meghan, the Pope and Cultural Heritage

Updated: Apr 9

There were two topics of conversation filling the tea houses of Iraq this week: The Harry and Meghan interview and the visit of the Pope Francis.

It was clear which one Iraqis felt was more deserving of airtime and column inches and that was the first ever papal visit to the country. A truly historic moment for a country recently blighted by inter-faith violence.

The pictures of Pope Francis in Mosul’s church square, surrounded by ruins, as he prayed for those killed by ISIS were particularly powerful. It was only in 2017 that the town was liberated from the terror group, during their reign Christians and other minority groups were murdered, tortured, raped and forced to flee their homes.

"Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war," Pope Francis said.

At IN2 building bridges between communities and strengthening bonds of fraternity is key to our work and key to our Cultural Heritage practice. We understand that communities that communicate and work together are less susceptible to violent and extremist rhetoric and messaging. By understanding the past and what brings communities together IN2’s Cultural Heritage work can ensure that the future is more durable and hopeful.

Our Culture Heritage work helps bind communities of different religions, ethnicities and genders and creates projects that foster a sense of wider community.

Conversely losing cultural heritage, be it artefacts in a museum, a language, a style of building or, at the extreme, a whole ethnic group, significantly weakens the social fabric and opens the room for extremism. What might seem small and insignificant, like artefacts in a museum being looted, can quickly spread. In the same way a small crack in tarmac quickly fills with water and grows, potholing the whole road, so attacks on heritage and culture can quickly spread and weaken the whole fabric of society.

IN2 develops programming that strengthens communities and builds resilience. An example of this is the digital museum project IN2 is currently developing in Mosul. The Mosul Museum was destroyed by ISIS and IN2 are working on a project that will allow many of the destroyed or looted pieces to be digitally recreated and displayed in Mosul. A ground-breaking project like this helps heal communities and rebuild their cultural library, in this case one that has been destroyed by ISIS.

IN2 are also looking at how technology, such as 3D printing and virtual reality, can be harnessed to help architecture students visualise and recreate traditional Iraqi buildings, many of which were destroyed by ISIS.

It is not all high tech though, IN2 have also worked with Iraqis IDPs returnees to teach them traditional craftsmanship such as stone masonry, so they can directly contribute to the reconstruction of their communities.

If you’d like to know more about IN2’s Cultural Heritage work please drop us an email at:

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