Iraq Embassy Posts|

Do’s and Don’ts for Iraq


  • Show an Iraqi respect by dressing modestly and remaining sensitive and polite. However, it is okay to be informal and relaxed. Doing so is likely to make an Iraqi feel well-received and more comfortable around you.
  • You can expect an Iraqi to take your words literally, so try and be genuine and sincere when you speak.
  • Offer sympathy to their situation/the state of Iraq if the conversation arises. Acknowledgement of the difficulties endured are likely to be deeply appreciated.
  • Try and be open and willing to take about yourself as Iraqis generally appreciate when others are transparent and personable.
  • Praise their strengths and virtues when possible. Iraqis generally give compliments generously.
  • Be aware that some people belonging to minority groups may prefer to identify by their ethnicity rather than their country of birth. In the 2011 census, only 36.8% of the Iraq-born population nominated ‘Iraqi’ as their ancestry, choosing to specify their ethnic heritage instead (e.g. Assyrian).


  • Do not say anything that could be taken as insulting or derogatory. Take an indirect approach towards corrective remarks to minimise tarnishing one’s honour, being sure to include praise of any of their good points.
  • Do not patronise or talk down to an Iraqi for having poor English.
  • Avoid talking about politics in Iraq unless they initiate the conversation. It is more than likely that the Iraqi you are talking to has experienced the suffering of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Iraq War and/or terrorism. Mentioning these topics may bring up bad memories for them.
  • Avoid telling crass or dirty jokes. Such humour is not appreciated in Iraq.
  • Do not take photos or videos of an Iraqi without permission – especially if they are a woman.
  • Do not speak critically of Islam or Islamic taboos (alcohol, pork, use of left hand, separation of the genders). Doing so can make you seem intolerant of the faith.


Islam is the official religion of Iraq, and the majority of the population is Muslim (97%). There are also small communities of Christians, Yazidis and Mandeans. Religion is deeply intertwined with daily life, government and politics of Iraq. However, the numbers of non-Muslim minority groups have declined dramatically in recent decades as the country has been riddled with sectarian tensions and conflict. This is reflected in the statistics of religious affiliations of Iraqi refugees in English-speaking countries; the majority of those who have fled and been resettled belong to minority religions in Iraq. For example, the 2011 Australian census recorded that the majority of Iraq-born people living in Australia identified as Catholic Christians (35.7%), 32% identified as Muslim and 11.9% identified as Assyrian Apostolic Christians. A further 20.4% affiliated with some other faith and 1.6% claimed to be non-religious.

Minority Recognition

The Iraqi constitution claims to recognise and protect the practice of the Muslim, Christian, Yazidi and Sabaean-Mandaean faiths. The public record does not reveal which religious denomination a person belongs to, or whether they are Sunni or Shi’a. However, to attain a national identity card, citizens are required to self-identify/register with one of these religions. Without an identity card, Iraqis cannot obtain a passport, register marriages or access public education and some other civil services. For example, the Iraqi constitution explicitly prohibits the practice of the Baha i faith, meaning any person who self-identifies as Baha i is unable to gain proper civilian status. As such, people belonging to an unrecognised minority faith often have to self-identify as Muslim. Unfortunately, even in the cases where religious minorities have constitutional recognition, this official status has not been able to protect many from intimidation and prosecution, such as kidnapping and destruction of property.

Islam in Iraq

Iraq has been a Muslim-majority country since the time period surrounding the Prophet Muhammad’s death. As such.

  1. Don’t overstay.
  2. Have extra funds in case of any eventuality.
  3. Don’t go to city areas having law and order problems.
  4. In case of a group, move with the group having a translator.
  5. Don’t discuss politics and religion with local people.
  6. Be respectful to Al the shrines and follow instructions mentioned there.
  7. Keep your passport safe.
  8. Don’t engage in begging. It is creating a bad name for the community.
  9. People coming in work visa and business visas should come through reliable recruiters and business organizations.
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