Thousands of Iraqi Christians protest country’s new provincial law

Baghdad – More than 5,000 Iraqi Christians demonstrated in the country’s Ninewa province to protest the absence in a new elections law of a clause that would have stipulated a quota of provincial council seats for Christians.

‘The demonstrators expressed rejection of the canceling of the article and deemed the step an unfair assault on the constitution and a marginalization of their rights,’ journalist and protester Nawzad Hakim told the independent Voices Of Iraq (VOI) news agency.

On Wednesday, the Iraqi parliament unanimously voted on the provincial law following months of fierce debate.

The parliament’s decision to remove Article 50, which specifies a quota for minorities in provincial councils, has sparked heated reaction from several political blocs representing the country’s Christians and other minorities.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday expressed his concerns about the removal of the disputed article.

In a statement released by the premier’s office, Maliki called on parliament and the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to remove all worry, injustice and the sense of exclusion that some segments of Iraqi society, he said, have started to feel.