Sen's daily

November 24, 2015

Bahais among those protesting personal status law in Iraq

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 22:08
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World Magazine, November 16, 2015.

Religious minority groups in Iraq are protesting a new law that would force children, under some circumstances, to become Muslim.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraqi President Fuad Masum to reject the recently passed national charter, which could take religious freedom away from children and teenagers. Chaldean Catholics, Yazidis, Mandean, Kakai, and Bahai minorities all opposed the charter. One article of the legislation states that children under 18 years old would have to become Muslim if their fathers convert to Islam or their mothers marry a Muslim man, according to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

In a Nov. 6, meeting, Sako urged Masum to veto the charter because the law would violate religious rights enshrined in the Iraqi constitution.

“We want to assert the principle that the child should keep their religious affiliation, so that he or she can freely decide their faith, according to belief, when they come of age,” Sako said in statements published online. “After all, religion is a matter which concerns only the relationship between God and man, and should not be bound by any obligations.”

Emily Fuentes, a spokeswoman for Open Doors, said the new law also would violate international standards for religious freedom and conscience. Because there is often government or community pressure not to convert to any other religion in Muslim countries, the Iraqi law “puts the children in a corner,” Fuentes said.

“Even if they think, ‘Okay, I’ll be Muslim now because it’s legal and switch when I’m 18,’ they can’t really do that,” she said.

Chaldean leaders in Iraq predict the new charter will accelerate the country’s Christian exodus, if enacted, CNA reported.

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