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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Iraq: Syriac Christian Population Needs Constitutional Protection to Survive

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Oct 04
  • Comments

Officials within Iraq’s Syriac Christian community say that unless Syriacs are given constitutional protection, they are in danger of being wiped out. reports that Syriac Orthodox Patriach Ignatius Aphrem II and Syriac Catholic Patriach Ignatius Youssif Ill recently wrote to Iraq’s prime minister and other government officials to plead the case for Syriac Christians.

Although minorities such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, and Assyrians are officially recognized in Iraq’s constitution, Syriacs are not mentioned by name. The constitution grants “the administrative, political, cultural and educational right of the various nationalities,” but Syriac leaders say this is not enough, and that Syriacs need to be specifically protected.

To this end, Syriac leaders "demanded the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Parliament to correct this injustice and list the name 'Syriac' in the Iraqi constitution, not just as language, but as an ethnicity and essential component of the people of the Republic of Iraq.”

Last year, four Syriac bishops made a similar claim: "Neglecting the Syriacs, leads to great anger. It seems like the Syriacs do not exist in Iraq and as if the Syriacs are no [sic] Iraqi citizens, even though the Syriacs have a historic presence in Iraq – a presence that is older than other communities."

An official letter has also been sent to the Iraqi government by the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs), stating, "Clearly, such a violation of their right to existence in the land of their ancestors flies in the face of international (human rights) law, common sense and the very spirit of recognizing, appreciating and preserving Iraq's rich ethno-religious diversity."


Publication date: October 4, 2016