Non-Muslim communities in Iraq protest against Islamization of their underage children before the UN mission in Erbil- Iraq
Hundreds of members of non-Muslim communities gathered Wednesday 4 Nov before the UN mission in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan Region (KR), Iraq protesting against a law recently passed by the National Assembly of Iraq on the National Card.
Article 26 para 2 of the law reads ” underage children shall follow the religion of the converted parent to Islam”.
Taking part in the rally were religious leaders, NGOs, Yezidis, Mandai, Kakai, and Bahai ethnic communities in Iraq as well as MPs representing these communities in both the federal and KR parliaments.
The non-Muslim ethnic communities in Iraq are allowed a quota of only five members in both parliaments.
” This is not something new. The legislation was passed in the 70s of the last century, but to be passed by the parliament in the 21st century is a blow to democratic values and a disappointment for the indigenous non-Muslim communities in Iraq” , said an MP of the federal parliament .
Protesters in the rally lifted banners condemning the decision dubbing it as ” unjust” and violation of the constitution and the freedom of religion calling for the immediate abolition of para 2 of Article 26 of the legislation.
” Imagine a seven year old child being forced to convert to Islam because one of his/her parents converted!”, said a 50-year old Yezidi protester.
A memorandum of protest that was read out in Syriac (Neo-Aramaic), Kurdish, Arabic, and English, was submitted to the UNAMI in Erbil demanding the president of Iraq to both disapprove and revoke the law.
The protesters also called upon the international community to move in and safe the rights of the non-Muslim communities in Iraq.
The law was passed despite opposition by the Non-Muslim MPs in the parliament who consequently boycotted the sessions of the assembly in protest of the legislation.
” On taking votes, MPs, often engaged in idle talk, raise their hands when asked to do so without being aware of what the vote is about,” said a non-Muslim MP referring to the chaotic situation prevailing during the sessions of the parliament.
” The majority of the MPs show sympathy for our issues as but when it comes to action, they take sides with their blocs who often hold radical views towards non-Muslims”, he added.
Copies of the memorandum were submitted to the president of KR, chairman of the parliament, and the PM of KRG.
Representatives of the non-Muslim communities in KR also expressed fears that the parliament in KR, may follow suit.
The only Christian member on the committee for the redrafting of KR constitution withdrew from the committee in protest of radical views expressed by the Muslim members who showed no compromise towards the civil status law that also forces underage children to follow the religion of their converted parent.
” The majority show sympathy, but we don’t trust them”, said an MP from KR parliament.
The legislation, if finally endorsed, is expected to trigger a new wave of immigration among the non-Muslim indigenous communities in Iraq .
Their numbers have dramatically dropped following their displacement, by ISIS, from their villages, areas, and towns in the Plain of Nineveh and Sinjar in June 2014.
Mr. Aziz Emmanuel Zebari is an university professor and a freelance writer and advocate for the rights of the Christian community in Iraq