Premier Appeals For Minority Rights

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged lawmakers Sunday to protect the rights of religious minorities, after a recent decision by parliament to end a quota system that guaranteed seats in provincial councils for Christians and other religious minorities.

Maliki asked the lawmakers to revisit their decision.

His appeal came in response to protests by Iraqi Christians, who say they are being marginalized. Lawmakers said the absence of reliable census data makes it difficult to create a fair system.

Parliament passed the long-awaited provincial elections law last week after months of stalemate.