How Iraq just Legalized Discrimination against Minorities

These provisions mean that only non-Muslims can convert their religion to Islam according to the law, while Muslims cannot convert their religion. Moreover, a child born within a marriage between a Muslim and non-Muslim shall take on the Muslim religion, regardless of the gender of the Muslim parent. This means that if one of the parents converts to Islam the child will automatically become a Muslim.

This law sparked the resentment and objection of all religious minorities whose members of parliament suspended their attendance to parliamentary voting sessions as a sign of protest.

Christian MP Yonadam Kanna stated in a press conference held on the day of the vote on the law in parliament, in the presence of other minority representatives, “Article 26 is unfair and inconsistent with the principles of the constitution and violates its articles. Article 26 deprives human beings of their will to choose their own faith, religion and conviction. It is contrary to the Islamic principle that there is no compulsion in religion.”

In the same vein, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church Louis Raphael I Sako expressed in a statement issued on Oct. 31 that he regrets the article was approved. He said, ”We submitted a request to amend the law a few months ago to the Iraqi parliament based on our pursuit of justice and equality, but the decision was unfair to non-Muslim minorities.” He added, "This is an unfortunate departure from the principle of pluralism and respect for diversity and privacy.”

Indeed, religious minorities, civil society organizations and democratic groups staged several demonstrations and protest rallies against this law in various regions of Iraq, such as in Erbil on Nov. 5.

In this respect, Masarat Foundation, which specializes in minority affairs, held a conference on Nov. 4 at the Mandaeans (an ancient indigenous minority in Iraq) headquarters in Baghdad, which was attended by representatives of various Iraqi religious minorities to denounce Article 26.

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