Msgr. Warduni said that “the Charter” should “clarify individual rights and freedoms.” At the moment there is little chance of change and pessimism prevails. In recent days, the Patriarch had addressed Parliament for the amendment of a controversial law limiting the rights of Christians. The bishops believes this is a battle for “all” citizens and “national unity”.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – “We must go back to the Constitution, because it is this fundamental text that must clarify individual rights and freedoms. Currently however, it is difficult to change anything and there is a widespread feeling of pessimism” reveals Msgr. Shlemon Warduni, Chaldean auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.
His comments refer to the latest events that point to the denial of religious freedom in Iraq. In recent days Mar Louis Raphael I Sako sent a letter to the Iraqi parliament asking for an amendment to the law under which a child is registered as a Muslim if one of the parents converts to Islam.
The Chaldean Patriarch says the norm is contrary to Article 37-2 of the (controversial) Constitution which states that “the State shall guarantee the protection of the individual from all forms of intellectual, political and religious coercion.” The law is “unjust and discriminatory” against Christians, as well as a clear “form of persecution.” He calls for the amendment of the law, for the minor to be allowed to keep the religion they belong to until they are of age (18 years). At this point it is up to the young person to choose what religion to profess, in a conscious and free manner.
However, Mar Sako’s letter – which also points to the fact that Christians respect the freedom to change one’s religion, whether the result of a personal choice – received a response from a member of the Committee on Security and Defense, the Shiite lawmaker Tu’ma Ammar. Ammar replied that to consider this law as “discriminatory and persecutory” is at odds with the fact that even those who are registered as a Christian, are registered as such “when they are minors”.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr. Warduni warns that only by going back to the foundations o fteh State and the laws that establish coexistence will it be really possible to see “rights of all citizens” recognized and sanctioned, and not, as at present, with hypothetical guarantees or protections “for minorities.” “The battle against this bill – says the prelate, who had denounced possible problems in 2002 – has lasted for over 30 years and involves all Christian clergy in Iraq.”
The controversial provision was approved during the years when Saddam Hussein was in power, perhaps to please an Islamic extremist fringe that had already emerged on the political landscape and national institutional. “I do not know the real reasons that led to the approval of the law – says the prelate – but the only certainty is that it is strictly enforced and it has not been possible to amend it. With his letter, Mar Sako recalled that this is not true freedom and is asking governors and statesmen to be careful, otherwise the country risks collapse”.
Iraq can be saved, “not with weapons, but through just laws” adds the vicar of the Chaldeans, and this law “is against freedom and conscience. Consequently, everyone must do their part and act in the spirit of true freedom and equality. ” “Moreover, national unity and not religious affiliation will save Iraq – said the prelate – and we support this fight, not for minorities but for all citizens who are called to build our nation together”. (DS)