Iraq Passes Law Forcing Children to Convert to Religion of Muslim Parent
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Assyrians, Yazidis and other non-Muslims demonstrate against the forced conversion law in front of the UN mission in Arbel, Iraq.
Baghdad (AINA) -- The Iraqi Parliament passed a law on October 27 that will force Christian children to become Muslims if the male parent converts to Islam or if their Christian mother marries a Muslim. Christian step-children of a Muslim father would be forced to become Muslims. The law was specified in Article 26, paragraph 2, which says "children shall follow the religion of the converted parent to Islam."

Assyrians, Yazidis, Mandeans, Kakai and Bahai leaders vigorously fought the law and their representatives walked out of the Parliament session in protest after it was passed. They had requested to add the following sentence to paragraph 2: "minors will keep their current religion until the completion of 18 years of age, then they have the right to choose their religion" -- but this was rejected.

The new law, part of the National Card law, is an exact copy of article 21 paragraph 65 of the 1972 constitution of Iraq. It contradicts several articles in the current constitution of Iraq, including articles 2, 14, 37 and article 42.

Chaldean Patriarch Sako met yesterday with Iraqi President Fouad Masoum and discussed this issue. The President acknowledged some of the constitutional violations the national card legislation introduced and reiterated that he will make every effort to find a realistic solution to this issue.

All of the Assyrian political parties and social organizations have expressed opposition to the law. The law has also been opposed by the following groups:

Chaldean Patriarch Sako meets with Iraqi President Fouad Masoum.
  • Warka Democratic Block
  • Iraqi Women's Network, comprised of over 90 women's NGOs all over Iraq.
  • Iraqi Communist Party
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Netherlands
  • Iraqi Democratic Union in the United States - Michigan
  • Democratic Iraqi Current in Stockholm / Sweden
  • Democrats stream of Iraqis in Denmark
  • Iraqi Democrats Movement in Canada
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Australia
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Germany
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Britain
  • Preparatory Committee for Democratic Movement in France
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Sodertalje
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Oonchobg
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Hungary
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in Norway
  • Iraqi Democratic Movement in New Zealand
  • Preparatory Committee for Democratic Movement in Iraqi Bulgaria

On November 4 a protest was held in front of the UN mission in Arbel by a coalition of non-Muslim groups.

Representatives of non-Muslim communities in north Iraq also expressed fears that the parliament of Kurdistan may follow suit. Two weeks ago the lone Assyrian Christian member of the Kurdish constitution draft committee, a woman, withdrew in protest of the 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.

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