Patriarch of Baghdad welcomes amendments to Law on Islamization of children

Posted on Nov 27, 2015

The Iraqi parliament begins process to change the controversial bill, accepting the objections of Christians and other minorities. An act of “justice” and “equality” that equates all citizens. Mar Sako: This is an “important message” and a “test of our democracy”.

Protest in front of the Church of St. George, Baghdad

Protest in front of the Church of St. George, Baghdad

by Joseph Mahmoud

(AsiaNews) Baghdad, November 18, 2015 – “I am deeply satisfied with the Iraqi parliament’s decision to change” the controversial article 26 of the Constitution on the Islamization of children. “This decision shows support and is an important message for the minorities [Christian] in Iraq. It is also a clear demonstration of democracy” the Chaldean Patriarch caldeo Mar Louis Raphael I Sako tells AsiaNews. The religious leader is overjoyed by the Parliamentary Assembly decision to revise the norm under which children of a couple where one parent converts to Islam would automatically be considered Muslim. Yesterday, MEPs voted a resolution amending the norm, in response to requests made by the representatives of minorities, led by the Christian community.

In recent months an amendment which provided that children remain in the religion of birth up to 18 years and then decide personally about their faith had been tabled. But at the end of October, the Iraqi Parliament had rejected this proposal, sparking the protests of the Iraqi Christian community and the leaders of the Chaldean Church.

Patriarch Sako had circulated a strongly worded letter, threatening to bring the matter and the parliamentarians before the international courts. The leader of the Chaldean Church had also led protests (pictured) in the following days, rallying in front of the church of Saint George in Baghdad; members of the Chaldean community were even joined by representatives of the Muslim community.

In yesterday’s vote, the Iraqi parliament decided to amend Art. 26 of the Constitution, by 140 out of a total of 206. The Assembly heard the protests of civil organization and some parliamentary colleagues from the minority, which had fought hard for the approval of an amendment on the “Islamization of their children.”

For the Iraqi Christian community it is an act of “justice” and “equality”, which really puts all citizens on the same level, as well as a key step in the direction “of freedom and democracy in Iraq.” “The Chaldean Patriarchate – read a statement released after the vote – thanks all parliamentarians and those who have supported the amendment of this unjust article “.