100 join to highlight Iraqi Christians’ plight

Demonstrators advocate for religious, ethnic freedoms
by Meghan Walsh The Arizona Republic –
The Arizona Republic
About 100 people gathered in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday to advocate for the rights of Iraqi Christians and raise awareness about the religious and ethnic attacks occurring in the region.

Protesters stood in front of Phoenix City Hall, holding signs that read, “Silent genocide: Who will help the Christians of Iraq?” while speakers urged Americans to petition to their state officials to stand up for the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq.

One of the issues at the forefront of the protest concerned “Article 50,” which was part of the Iraq Election Law in preliminary drafts but then eliminated. The article was designed to protect electoral rights in the parliament by reserving seats in a quota system for minorities. Protestors are appealing to the international community to demand the article’s reinstatement to guarantee voting rights for Assyrian Christians and other religious groups.
Demonstrators are also asking that the United States and United Nations form a committee to investigate and monitor the attacks and intimidation tactics committed against the Assyrian community.

In the past two weeks, sectarian violence has driven more than 15,000 Assyrians out of the city of Mosul and killed 13 people.

Arizona has a growing population of Assyrian Christians that totals almost 10,000 residents, said a speaker at the protest.

Francis Murad attended the protest with his 11-year-old daughter and spoke passionately about the cause.

“We are always silenced,” Murad said. “In Iraq, which has a democratic government now, no one is protecting the rights of minorities.”