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ICC Note

After the uproar caused by a video of Alaa al-Moussawi, head of Iraq’s Shia Endowment Fund, where he seemed to be calling for Iraq’s Jews to convert to Islam or be killed or pay the “Jizya,” he claims his words were taken out of context and misinterpreted. In an attempt to resolve the tension between the two communities al-Moussawi sent a delegation to Babylon Brigades apologizing and explaining the context of the video. In a country where the Christian population has dwindled from 1.5 million to around 500,000 due to violence, efforts to reconcile these sides are important for continued coexistence.

2017-05-26 Iraq (Global Voices) – A video recently emerged of Alaa al-Moussawi, head of Iraq’s Shia Endowment Fund (a government funded organization to maintain religious sites), seeming to call for Iraq’s Christians and Jews to convert to Islam, be killed, or pay “jizya,” a religious tax on non-Muslims.

The three-year-old footage alarmed the country’s Christian community (Iraq’s Jewish population is near nonexistent) due to the parallels between his remarks and rhetoric from the brutal militant group ISIS. In 2014, after ISIS swept much of northern Iraq, Christians were faced with a similar ultimatum. Many families opted to flee their homes after they were forced to choose between converting and death.

In an interview with al-Hurra, an Arabic language news channel, al-Moussawi responded to criticism by claiming he was taken out of context and this was an attempt by ISIS supporters to fracture the relationship between Iraq’s Shia and Christian communities. He also claimed that the particular footage came from a religious lesson given at a mosque in the sacred city of Najaf on the subject of non-Muslims during early Islam. He stressed that the purpose of the lecture was simply informative and added that he did not call for harming Iraq’s Christians.




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