Iraqi Patriarch Battles Forced Conversion of Iraqi Children

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Patriarch Sako urges Iraq’s president to modify legislation that would force some children to embrace Islam
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., MA.Th. • November 12, 2015
Filed Under: Islam, Middle East, Christian Persecution, Religious Freedom, Muslims, Yes
BAGHDAD ( – Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad is asking Iraq’s president to veto a law that will force some children to convert to Islam.

Mar Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, met with President Fuad Masum last week asking him to reject a charter that demands all children — including Christians — under the age of 18 to become Muslim if their father converts to Islam or their non-Muslim mother marries a Muslim.

Patriarch Sako told the president that this national charter, recently approved by Iraq’s Assembly of Deputies, violates the religious freedom guaranteed in Iraq’s constitution.

Sako is urging President Masum to return the charter to parliament for modifications instead of signing it. Sako wants added to the law “an amendment allowing children to retain the religion of their birth up to 18 before personally deciding about their faith.”

At the end of this month, if the president does nothing, the charter will become law by default.

President Masum acknowledged the legislation contains constitutional violations and reiterated that he will make every effort to find what he calls “realistic solutions to this issue.”

Following the meeting, Patriarch Sako sent a statement this week to, a Vatican news agency.

In the statement, Sako declares,

This norm is one of the most discriminatory, because it shows a total disregard for the values ??of the civilization of Iraq and against those who are considered to be among the first citizens of this country. All of this also tramples over a provision of the Iraqi Constitution which states, “The country guarantees the protection of the individual against any doctrinal, political or religious coercion.”

In closing, Sako affirmed, “We want to state emphatically that, in case of application of this law, we will make our voice heard at the international level and we will ensure that the Assembly of Deputies must respond about this before the international tribunal.”

Last week, Chaldean Bishop Rabban Al-Qas of Amadiyah, a diocese in northern Iraq, predicted the charter would accelerate the exodus of Christians from Iraq. Bishop Al-Qas told,

We are facing a genocide in a country that knows only death and liberticidal laws. It is not just a political project, there are also traces of an Islam that wants to eliminate minorities. … If you change your religion, it will be forever.