BAGHDAD — Human rights groups have condemned an Iraqi bill that would permit girls younger than nine from the country's majority Shiite population to marry.
"Passage of the Jaafari law would be a disastrous and discriminatory step backward for Iraq's women and girls," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. "This personal status law would only entrench Iraq's divisions while the government claims to support equal rights for all."
Known as the Jaafari Personal Status Law, the bill was approved by Iraq's Council of Ministers on Feb. 25, and would permit girls to marry, with their father being the only authority who could approve or deny the partnership. The proposed legislation would affect the country's Shiite population, which makes up between 65 and 70 percent of the country's 32 million people. more >>
An Iraqi suicide bomber instructor set off his own explosives during a training on Monday, ending the lives of himself and his pupils.
The instructor, who was teaching a class at a camp in the Sunni region of the country, north of Baghdad, accidently detonated his bomb, killing 21 other would-be suicide bombers. The casualties were part of a group formerly linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
The ironic incident is a brief moment of respite for many Iraqis who have been forced to ensure years of violence and killing in the country; in 2013, nearly 9,000 people were killed. Thus far, 2014 has not been anymore hopeful; roughly 1,000 Iraqis were killed last month. Meanwhile, suicide bombers have made themselves an ever present menace in Iraqi civilian life, relentlessly targeting markets, mosques, sporting events and funerals. more >>
At least 38 people are dead and 60 wounded after two bombs went off on Christmas Day in Baghdad. One exploded outside a Catholic church as members of the congregation were leaving a Christmas Day service, while another bomb killed 11 in a market in a Christian neighborhood.
The attacks will likely only incite more anxiety in Iraq's waning Christian population, which has long been targeted by extremists following the U.S. invasion of the country and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The population has dwindled down to less than 500,000 from 1.4 million in 2003.
Dr. David Curry, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, said that he believed the violence was part of a deliberate act to remove Christians from the country. more >>
The rise of religious extremism has pushed religious communities to migrate from Iraq, especially Christians, according to Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldeans in Iraq.
The patriarch called on the Iraqi government to extend security and protection of religious freedoms and ethnic diversity as well as to promote reconciliation and social cohesion between all components.
In his speech recently at a conference held by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in coordination with the United Nations Mission "UNAMI " and the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, and sponsored by Iraqi Parliament Speaker on the International Day for Tolerance, under the title of "Rights of Minorities in Iraq, Reality and Ambition", Patriarch Sako said the reality of the situation in Iraq is still concerning. more >>
An increase in violent activity, including bombings in Northern Iraq, is forcing Christians to flee the region in panic, even though the area is considered one of the safest in the country until recent developments.
The growing number of attacks in the region include a Sept. 22 suicide bomb that went off at the home of Christian politician Emad Youhanna in Rafigayn, which injured 19 people including three of Youhanna's children, World Watch Monitor reported. Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for a number of other recent attacks, while Christians in surrounding villages have complained about harassment from police.
"It remains urgent to pray for the future of Christianity in this country," watchdog group Open Doors USA said. "If the present trend continues, there might be no Christian left in the whole of Iraq by 2020." The group added that although a number of Christians are still choosing to stay, their concern over safety is growing, and they may be left with little choice but to leave. more >>
A series of bombings targeting mostly at Shiite neighborhoods killed over 60 people and wounded hundreds across Iraq on Saturday amid Eid celebrations at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, raising fears of a return to Shia-Sunni violence which brought the nation to the edge of civil war six years ago.
Saturday's deadliest attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into a residential area in the town of Tuz Khormato, about 130 miles north of Baghdad, killing eight people and wounding dozens, The Associated Press quoted Mayor Shalal Abdool as saying.
In the Baghdad's south-eastern suburbs of Jisr Diyala, another car bomb killed seven people near an outdoor market, police said. more >>