How Iraq just Legalized Discrimination against Minorities

Masarat Foundation Chairman Saad Salloum told Al-Monitor, “Minorities feel that there is systematic and integrated discrimination policy against them and that the Iraqi legislator is complementing the mission of the Islamic State (IS) in imposing the Islamic religion on minorities and causing them to flee the country in the near future.”

Saib Khidir, the representative of the Yazidis in the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue, specified that the new law is reproduced from a law passed under Saddam Hussein. He told Al-Monitor, ”What is happening is a continuation of the policy of discrimination against minorities that started under the Baathist regime. The new National Identity Card Law reproduced the text of the Civil Status Law No. 65 of 1972 [Article 21/III], which specifies that a minor is registered as Muslim following a conversion of any of the parents to Islam."

Those who opposed Saddam's regime, and who are now in power, because he did not give them their religious rights are reproducing discriminatory laws today. Khidir describes the new law as a clear violation of human rights and several articles of the Iraqi Constitution, including Article 2 that specifies that the constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights to freedom of religious belief and practice of all individuals such as Christians, Yazidis and Mandean Sabeans, and Article 42 that states that each individual shall have the freedom of thought, conscience and belief.

Numerous civil rights activists believe the Iraqi legislator did the opposite of what is expected from him under the circumstances, since the law must be based on the implementation of positive discrimination in favor of minorities in cases where there is a possibility of marginalization and discrimination, or the threat of extinction. This means that in such cases, minorities should be provided with further protection and assistance, to preserve their presence in the country.

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