Religious Abuse Continues in Iraq , Report Says
“The lack of effective government action to protect these communities from abuses has established Iraq among the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities,”
By Adelle M. Banks
12/19/2008 Iraq (RNS) — Iraq should be designated as a “country of particular concern” because its government tolerates the abuse of religious communities, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The federal commission said many Iraqi religious minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and Sabean Mandaeans have fled, threatening their faiths’ existence within the country.
“The lack of effective government action to protect these communities from abuses has established Iraq among the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities,” said Felice D. Gaer, chair of the commission at a Washington news conference.
They also asked the U.S. government to appoint a special envoy for human rights in Iraq and Iraqi officials to establish police units for vulnerable minority communities. They also seek changes in Iraq ‘s constitution, which currently gives Islam a preferred status, to strengthen human rights guarantees.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Va. , co-chair of a congressional caucus addressing human rights, said that religious pluralism in Iraq is “rapidly diminishing.” He said about 500,000 Christians, or 50 percent of the population of that faith in Iraq in 2003, have fled the country.