Christians fear attempt to Islamise Iraq’s Supreme Court

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By Xavier Bisits and John Newton IRAQ’S Christians have expressed fears that giving Islamic clerics voting rights in the Federal Supreme Court could lead to the country becoming a theocracy.

The proposed change would involve four Islamic clerics sitting as part of the Federal Supreme Court’s 13-member judiciary – with all decisions requiring the support of at least three of the four Islamic jurists. Iraqi Christian activist and constitutional expert Professor Muna Yako told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that although Iraq’s constitution describes Islam as the foundation of its law, it also stressed the importance of democracy and human rights. Professor Yako expressed concerns that the proposed change to the Federal Supreme Court could mean that Shari‘a law would always take precedence. She said: “You need to have the court to interpret the constitution. Right now, I hope that if a case goes to the Federal Court they might prioritise human rights and democracy, in some instances. “If, however, these Islamic jurists join the court, we will have no chance of ever prioritising democracy or human rights.” Opponents of the move say that it would effectively end attempts to overturn legislation that discriminates against religious minorities – such as Christian men not being allowed to marry Muslim women without converting Islam. Professor Yako said: “The Iraqi government has disappointed us so far, but I still have hope of seeing change. If the court adopts this law, though, I will no longer have any hope. “This will make Iraq like a theocracy because all the laws will be based on religion – for example, rules about clothes and alcohol.“ She voiced concern that if the change happens, more Christians will leave Iraq and “we will become just a memory, just like the Jews”. Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, head of the Chaldean Church, also opposed to the move. In a letter to the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, he wrote that the proposal could threaten the future of Christians in the country “after all the suffering we have endured from terrorism, displacement, pillaging, murder and property theft”. The draft bill, which would introduce these changes to the Supreme Court, is currently awaiting its second reading in Iraq’s unicameral parliament. Editor’s Notes Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action. Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world. Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians. Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West. Please always acknowledge Aid to the Church in Need as the source when using our material. For more information, contact Senior Press Officer Dr John Newton on 020 8661 5167 Aid to the Church in Need sends out its press releases to members of media organisations, and individuals who have specifically requested to be on our list. If you no longer wish to receive our press releases please email with the word “Remove” in the subject box. ACN’s Privacy Policy can be found at