Iraq report highlights religious abuse

BAGHDAD, July 3 (UPI) — The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights in its latest report highlighted the prevalence of religious persecution in the country following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The July report says the Shabak people in the northern Iraqi province of Ninawa witnessed the brunt of religious attacks, with more than 3,000 families displaced and 529 killed since 2003, the Integrated Regional Information Networks of the United Nations said.

The Shabaks practice a form a religion that melds Islamic and Christian religions. They are considered by some scholars to be an offshoot of the Yazidi community, who were identified as the second-most targeted group with 335 fatalities.

Simultaneous suicide bombings in August 2007 in the provincial capital of Ninawa, Mosul, killed 215 Yazidis. They are considered infidels by some conventional Islamic sects.

Iraqi Christians were third on the list with 172 fatalities among the various divisions followed by the Sabis with 127 killed and 62 displaced families.

Iraqi Christian Yousif Yacoub Qado told IRIN al-Qaida militants in Baghdad threatened to kill him if he did not convert to Islam or hand over protection money.

“When I said I can’t do that as I need the money to feed my family, they said they would slaughter me like a goat to make me an example to other Christians,” he said.

Ahmed Jaafar al-Mayahi who studies Islamic theology at the University of Mustansiriyah said the political vacuum following the 2003 invasion brought simmering resentments among the various Iraqi religious and ethnic groups to the surface.