Iraq May Repeal Child Conversion Law

Kadhim AlShamari, member of Iraq's parliament, has criticized the law that would force non-Muslim children to become Muslims and called for its repeal.

Kadhim AlShamari, member of Iraq’s parliament, has criticized the law that would force non-Muslim children to become Muslims and called for its repeal.

November 2015

(AINA) — The Iraqi Council of Representatives passed a resolution yesterday requiring modifications to the National Card Law that was approved on October 27, which included a paragraph that will force Christian and non-Muslim children to become Muslims if the male parent converts to Islam or if their non-Muslim mother marries a Muslim. Non-Muslim step-children of a Muslim father would be forced to become Muslims (AINA 2015-11-07).

The law was specified in Article 26, paragraph 2, which says “children shall follow the religion of the converted parent to Islam.”

Salim Jibouri, the President of the Council, asked the non-muslim Parliamentarians who had boycotted the meetings to return to the sessions of the Council and contribute to the rewriting of the law, noting that the Council will take the necessary steps to amend the law and work to ensure that all ethnic groups enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

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.

At the outset of the session yesterday, which was attended by 206 parliamentarians, Jubouri said “the Presidency of the Council took into account the boycott of the council meetings by the Parliamentarians of the religious groups and their demand of amending the national card law in order to achieve justice for their constituents, expressing the Council is eager for these parliamentarians representing other components to resume their work with their other colleagues.”

The council’s decision to rewrite the law, which received the support of 140 votes of the total present, was the result of the boycott of the parliament meetings by the parliamentarians of non-Muslim religious groups as well as vigorous opposition by churches and civic leaders.

Kadhim al-Shammari, MP from the National Coalition, said on Wednesday the decision of the Council to take the necessary measures to amend the national card law to ensure the rights of minorities is an important step to restore national unity and strengthen the social fabric.

in a statement published by Sky Press, Al-Shammari said “Iraqi society represents a diverse and beautiful mosaic of various nationalities and religions, and this diversity is a strength of the country when building the right foundation for a peaceful coexistence and respect for the rights of others.”

He added the “Parliament’s decision to take the necessary measures to amend Article 26 of the national card law, represents an important and bold step to pave the way towards giving all the components of civil and religious rights without marginalization.”

He praised “…all efforts made within the Parliament of political blocs and the private representatives of minorities and their strong stand to regain the rights for their constituents in addition to the efforts of the Presidency and religious endowments to succeed. We hope it culminates with the amending the article once and for all, including giving full freedom for all groups in the selection of the religion that suits them according to the principle of no compulsion in religion.”

© 2015 Assyrian International News Agency.

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