Each week, the writing ofInfo Chrétienne offers you an article focusing on the situation of Christians in the world. Today Iraq.
Tim Stanley stood outside the British Parliament last week. Back from Iraq, in the Nineveh plain, the historian and columnist for the Telegraph wished to alert parliamentarians. For him, the Yazidis and the Christians undergo a " ethnic cleansing "
“If we do not say what is really going on in the region, which is the ethnic cleansing of Christians and Yazidis, we are allowing ISIS and other criminals to get away with it. "
For their part, the experts of the International Religious Freedom Commission do not hesitate to speak of "genocide":
“In addition, the religious and ethnic minorities that the Islamic State had chosen for genocide, such as Yazidis and Christians, continue to face extreme uncertainty as to whether conditions would allow them to return to their communities. original. "
According to their latest report, the Iraqi government lacks the "capacity to provide adequate security to vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities." If the Islamic State group "avoids large-scale military clashes with Iraqi, Kurdish or international forces", it continues to carry out "small-scale attacks". For the experts, it is a question of preserving the group in the long term. In 2018, the report denounced “at least 75 attacks per month in Iraq”.
“In short, the Islamic State has temporarily retreated into the shadows, but remains a serious and imminent threat, especially to vulnerable minority communities in northern Iraq, who are already the main target of intolerance violence of the group since its appearance in 2014. "
These communities have been subjected to a context of violence and tension for more than 15 years. It is, according to USCIRF experts, this climate that allowed the rise of the Islamic State in 2014:
“And the same conditions persist in 2018 despite the group's defeat as an occupying force the year before. "
In terms of demographics, the populations of religious minorities had already been reduced significantly, but the decline has continued in the past 4 years.
“Iraq is particularly at risk of losing its old Christian community, the number of which has declined dramatically over the past 15 years. According to Christian leaders, there are now less than 250 Christians in Iraq, up from a pre-000 estimate of 2003 million. "
Some Christians from the Assyrian and Chaldean Christian communities returned to the Nineveh Plain, notably to Qaraqosh. But this is not the case with the majority.
“Most of them have not yet returned, however, as the lack of restored infrastructure, ISIS traps and unexploded ordnance, and lingering fears of an ISIS resurgence have prevented many Christian displaced people from returning to Mosul or to villages in its social and economic orbit. "
Other obstacles to this return, the destruction of agricultural infrastructure, wells, crops, which places rural communities in a delicate situation, but also the discrimination experienced by Yazidis victims of rape by Islamists.
“Hundreds of freed Yazidis are now faced with an impossible choice, because they carried children born of sexual assault by ISIS personnel while in captivity. They face ostracism from communities of origin whose traditional leaders insist on being able to return home, but their children, born to non-Yazidi genocidal fathers and potentially numerous, would have no place among them. "
Those who have chosen to return to their ancestral lands are also faced with illegal expropriation, following their temporary displacement when they were fleeing the Islamic State. More than 300 Christian properties are in the process of being re-registered with the authorities.
There is also the problem of the religion listed on the identity card, which requires identifying as Muslim a child whose parent is Muslim.
“This reinforces existing restrictions, which prevent Muslims from changing their religious identity on their ID cards after converting to another religion. Christian leaders have said that in some cases, families officially registered as Muslims but practicing Christianity have fled to avoid registering their children as Muslims or to keep their children undocumented. "
However, specialists note some "attempts at progress" by the Iraqi government, including the establishment of a national holiday on December 25 "in honor of Iraqi Christians".
Image Credit: serkan senturk / Shutterstock.com
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