Iraqi minorities are not for sale

By Fatih Abdulsalam

Azzaman, October 5, 2008

Iraqi legislators have revoked a paragraph in the constitution that gave a set of seats for Iraqi minorities in provincial councils.

The reason they cited was that there was no “authentic count” on the number of these minorities in the country.

But this is a baseless excuse and pretext to violate the rights of Iraqi Christians, Shebeks, Sabeans and Yazidis for whom land of today’s Iraq has been a habitat from time immemorial.

There must have been other reasons which prompted the parliament to take a decision that has alienated an important and crucial component of the Iraqi society.

Iraqi minorities thought they would be treated much better than under former leader Saddam Hussein whose regime the U.S. toppled in 2003.

But they now find themselves in far worse conditions. At least Saddam Hussein respected their religious rights and their way of worship. His regime is credited with the building of scores of churches and places of worship for all Iraqi minorities.

Today, these minorities have been worst hit by U.S. occupation and the surge in violence it caused.

To say the government lacks credible counts of Iraqi minorities is a big lie. Such counts could have easily been obtained from their religious leaders.

Moreover, conducting such a count is not that difficult given the fact that the remaining numbers of these minorities now predominantly live in northern Iraq.

For the U.S. and its puppet government everything in Iraq now either falls under the category of minority or majority.

And who is a minority or majority depends on which sect, religion or ethnic group you belong to.

If your are a Shiite you see Shiite majority across the country. If you are a Kurd you see Kurdish majority even in traditional Arab heartland and so on and so forth.

There are no credible counts in Iraq for almost everything. No one knows for sure who the majority is and who the minority is.

This applies to Arabs and Kurds. It applies to Shiites and Sunnis.

But only the weakest and powerless in the society had to pay for the lack of authentic counts.

Iraqi minorities, who thought they would be better off under a U.S.-protected government, suddenly find themselves without protection.