As Iraq Moves Towards Provincial Elections, Minority Sects Further Marginalized

World

A new decision by the Iraqi parliament leaves Iraqi minorities with no representation in the country's provincial councils as well as the legislature.

By an overwhelming majority, the parliament early this week revoked paragraph 50 from the constitution, under which Iraqi minorities were assigned a set of seats in legislative and municipal councils.

The revocation has sparked mass demonstrations in areas where these minorities live, particularly in the northern Province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital.

Not only non-Muslim minorities are affected. The Shebeks, who are Muslim Shiites, have lost this privilege as well as the Yazidis who still pursue their secretive and traditional faith.

The decision has been a blow to the minorities who make up at least 10 per cent of the Iraqi population.

Neglected and persecuted under former leader Saddam Hussein, they hoped the new U.S.-occupied Iraq would bring good news.

On the contrary. They have borne the brunt of the upsurge in violence and insecurity that has become a characteristic of post-Saddam Iraq.

With paragraph 50 of the constitution revoked, these minorities will have no means left to air their voice.

Christians, Yazidis, and Sabeans have almost lost the religious freedom they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein in most parts of the country.

Today, these minorities make up a disproportionately high percentage of Iraqi refugees fleeing their country.

It is almost impossible for the Yazidis for example to live outside their traditional areas. And even there they are target of attacks and pressure by both Arabs and Kurds.

Certain cities like Mosul, which traditionally used to be centers of Christianity in the country, are being emptied of their Christian population.

And the Sabeans have all but fled their traditional areas in southern Iraq.

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