Iraqi Patriarch Challenges ‘Unconstitutional’ Identity Law

November 14, 2015 by Janelle P in Middle East

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq renewed his opposition this week to an article in the nation’s new national laws requiring minority-faith children to become Muslims if one parent converts to Islam.

Describing the new law as both unconstitutional and “unacceptable,” Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has called on President Fouad Masoum to send Article 26.2 of the National Charter back to Parliament to be amended.

Iraqi Christian MPs (Members of Parliament), together with Yazidi, Mandean and Baha’i deputies, had proposed a modified draft of the law, to read: “Minors will keep their current religion until the completion of 18 years of age, when they have the right to choose their religion.” The amendment was defeated in Parliament on October 27, by a vote of 137 to 51.

Patriarch Sako told Aid to the Church in Need that the current law “tramples over” several provisions of the Iraqi Constitution, including Article 37.2, which, “guarantees the protection of the individual against any doctrinal, political or religious coercion.”

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Religion and Belief focused on the religious rights of children in an October 22 report, calling for nation states to respect freedom of choice for minors and their parents, “particularly minorities and converts.”

Iraq’s religious minorities have staged two demonstrations protesting against the new “discriminatory” regulation, on November 4 in front of Erbil’s UN headquarters and on November 10 at Baghdad’s Chaldean Church of St. George.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Father God, our hearts are dismayed along with our brothers and sisters in Iraq. They have endured so many hardships over the years…and now this! Your Word says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Father God, today we pray for the children of Iraq to choose to follow Jesus and not be hindered. We pray for the church leaders of Iraq to not be defeated, but instead embolden them to continue to fight for religious freedom for all. Together with one voice and one heart, we pray this in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

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