The state of religious freedom in the country we rebuilt

I have from time to time referenced Freedom House’s yearly updated determination that Iraq is “Not Free.” Here is a much more detailed report, focusing on the lack of religious freedom in the country which has been our client and the object of our obsessive solicitude for the last six and half years, not to mention the place where 4,000 of our men have been killed and many thousands more maimed, all in order to make Iraq a “democracy,” which in turn would weaken terrorism. It comes from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Annual Report 2009—Countries of Particular Concern, which was published this past May. Diana West linked it in her blog article today, “Making the World Safe for Sharia—in Iraq.” Here I quote the opening part. I notice it says that the people, mainly Christians, who have fled Iraq to neighboring countries because of religious persecution, a number estimated a few years ago at two million, have not returned, notwithstanding the general reduction of violence in Iraq since 2007. Perhaps their reluctance to return comes from recognizing the same point I have often made, that the welcome reduction in sectarian violence resulting from the surge would only last as long as the surge itself lasted.

USCIRF Annual Report 2009—Countries of Particular Concern: Iraq

In December 2008, the Commission recommended that the U.S. Department of State should designate Iraq as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, based on the ongoing, severe abuses of religious freedom in the country and the government’s toleration of these abuses, particularly against Iraq’s smallest and most vulnerable religious minorities.* The Commission’s recommendation was based on the following concerns, outlined in an extensive report: continued targeted violence, threats, and intimidation against members of the country’s smallest religious minorities; the lack of effective government action to protect these minorities; an ongoing pattern of official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect against the smallest minorities, particularly in the northern areas where these groups are now concentrated; continued attacks and tense relations between Shi’a and Sunni Iraqis; and continued egregious, religiously-motivated violence against women and girls, homosexuals, Muslims who reject certain strict interpretations of Islam, and academics.1

The religious freedom situation in Iraq remains grave, particularly for the smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities which include ChaldoAssyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis. Since 2007, violence against civilians in Iraq has diminished substantially, but the improved security, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, is “fragile, reversible, and uneven.”2 Nineveh governorate—the northern province with the largest concentration of the smallest religious minorities and where they are caught in the middle of a struggle for territorial control between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central Iraqi government—has remained one of the most dangerous areas.

In recent years in Iraq, and particularly since 2006, there have been alarming numbers of religiously-motivated killings, abductions, beatings, rapes, threats, intimidation, forced resettlements, and attacks on religious leaders, pilgrims, and holy sites. Iraqis from many religious communities, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have suffered in this violence, but those from Iraq’s smallest religious minorities have been among the most vulnerable. Members of these small communities do not have militia or tribal structures to defend them and do not receive adequate official protection. Many have fled to other areas within Iraq or to other countries, where they represent a disproportionately high percentage of registered Iraqi refugees. These communities report that their numbers in Iraq have substantially diminished, and that their members who have left the country have not showed signs of returning in significant numbers. In addition to lacking security, these small minorities are legally, politically, and economically marginalized, and they allege that their communities are discriminated against in the provision of essential government services and reconstruction and development aid. The cumulative effect of this violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization, and neglect has been to create a serious threat to these ancient communities’ very existence in Iraq, where they have lived for millennia. These threats against Iraq’s smallest religious minorities jeopardize Iraq’s future as a diverse, pluralistic and free society. [cont.]

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Diana West writes:

So let’s do the same in Afghanistan, seems to be what our “geniuses” are saying—without ever noticing/acknowledging this monstrous reality!

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 06, 2009 02:33 PM | Send

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