Islamic oppression Iraq | 09 February 2023

Iraq: Religious minorities, political crisis and Baghdad’s lack of political will

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Iraq’s political crisis is harming the situation of religious minorities in Iraq. This is what the USCIRF has described in a report published on 3 January 2023: “In addition to fomenting intra-Shi’a and anti-Sunni sectarian political sentiment, this instability has stalled the government’s progress on initiatives that would help address the pressing concerns of religious minorities such as Yazidis and Christians.” Many of the religious minorities affected concern those who "have also been traumatized by years of attacks by ISIS and its remnants, as well as by Turkey, Iran and those countries' allies in Iraq." The report goes on to state that, even after the political crisis that followed the October 2021 elections, with the approval of the new government in October 2022, “government agencies issued eviction notices to Christians in a displacement settlement in the city’s Zayouna district, leaving the families facing homelessness in the impending winter.”

World Watch Research analyst Henriette Kats explains: “Recent years have seen some positive initiatives by the Iraqi government, such as the signing – together with the Kurdistan Regional Government – of the Sinjar Security Agreement to protect religious minorities and the passing of the Yazidi [Female] Survivors Bill, aimed at providing support to Yazidi, Christian and other survivors of attacks by the Islamic State group. However, as the USCIRF report highlights, political crises always hit vulnerable groups hard. This can be particularly devastating when crises are combined with a lack of political will to guarantee protection and support. An example of this was the October 2022 expulsion order for the Christian refugee camp in Zayouna district in Baghdad to make way for a new shopping complex (Agenzia Fides, 15 October 2022). The lack of political will to care for the country’s religious minorities is hard to accept after these minorities have been hit so hard by Islamic State group oppression and attacks from Turkey, Iran and their allied groups - the latter continuing into 2023. The USCIRF report shows that there is work to be done for minorities in Iraq, and also exposes the illegal cross-border military activities of Turkey and Iran in Iraqi territory.”


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