Iraq

97 percent of the population are Muslims (60 percent Shiites, 37 percent Sunnis and 3 percent Christians and others.)

According to the constitution, Islam is the state religion and Iraq has an “Islamic identity”. No law may be passed that contradicts the “established provisions of Islam”. Freedom of belief and worship is possible for Christians, Yazidis and Sabaean-Mandaeans. The practice of the Bahai Faith and the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam are prohibited, also the conversion of Muslims.

International and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reported that the government continues to use the anti-terrorism law against ISIS as a pretext for imprisoning Sunnis and others without access to a timely process.

The worsening of security conditions in the fight against ISIS was accompanied by societal violence committed primarily by sectarian armed groups. Armed groups continued to attack Sunnis to carry out executions and to destroy homes and businesses. Non-Muslim minorities reported threats, pressure and harassment to force them to comply with Islamic customs. In many regions, regardless of their religious affiliation, minorities indicated that they had experienced violence and harassment from the majority group in the region.

The transfer of a Muslim to, for example, Christianity is not prohibited by law, but as a result it leads to its outlawing, as the apostasy from the Islamic faith is not accepted in many communities and families. There is a danger that the victim will be killed by his own family members who believe that he has brought shame on them.

The fact that in Iraq the state’s legal system is neither based on Sharia nor on secularism is punishable does not prevents police representatives and judges occasionally from interpreting atheism as blasphemy. An atheist who is exposed to hostilities in his environment will therefore be reluctant to turn to the police. It could turn out for him like the case of Yousef Muhammad Ali, from the Darbandikhan region in Iraqi Kurdistan. He filed a lawsuit in 2014 with the police against several people who had threatened him with death because of his atheistic and Islam-critical statements. Instead of prosecuting the perpetrators, he found himself suddenly accused of blasphemy. Or, as in the case of Ahmad Sherwan from Erbil (2014): after the then 15-year-old had informed his father in a private religious lesson that he did not believe in God, his father informed the police, who took his son into solitary confinement and tortured him for days. He was released after 13 days. In 2015 he fled to Germany and was granted asylum on religious grounds because he was an atheist.

The situation in Iraq remains precarious.

German Federal Foreign Office: With the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization advancing from June 2014, much of Iraq’s Sunni areas have lost control of the central government. Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga were able to recapture large parts of the previously occupied by IS areas. The United Nations still reckons on around 3 million internally displaced persons in Iraq. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is home to almost 1 million internally displaced persons, almost 400,000 of whom are in the province of Dohuk alone. In addition, there are about 230,000 Syrian refugees. Ethnic and religious minorities (Yazidis, Christians, Turkmen, etc.) are affected, but primarily Sunni Arabs.

According to a report by the German Federal Foreign Office of 21.11.2017, “Many Iraqis have to learn to trust their state after liberation from the so-called Islamic State (IS).”

However, Iraq ranks 166th out of 176 countries in the 2016 corruption index.

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