After more than a week of public protests from a Catholic leader in Iraq, the nation’s parliament voted to change a proposed law that would force some children to become Muslim, AsiaNews reported.
“I am deeply satisfied with the Iraqi parliament’s decision to change” Article 26 of Iraq’s Constitution, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako told AsiaNews.
Assyrian International News Agency explained that the Iraqi Council of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday requiring modifications to the National Card Law that was approved on Oct. 27. That law included a paragraph that would force Christian and non-Muslim children to become Muslims if the male parent converts to Islam or if their non-Muslim mother marries a Muslim. Non-Muslim step-children of a Muslim father would be forced to become Muslims.
The issue had simmered for months, after an amendment had been tabled which provided that children remain in their religion of birth until age 18 and then decide for themselves. At the end of October, Parliament rejected this proposal, sparking protests from the Christian community and the leaders of the Chaldean Church. Said AsiaNews:
Patriarch Sako had circulated a strongly worded letter, threatening to bring the matter and the parliamentarians before the international courts. The leader of the Chaldean Church had also led protests in the following days, rallying in front of the church of Saint George in Baghdad; members of the Chaldean community were even joined by representatives of the Muslim community.
For the Iraqi Christian community it is an act of “justice” and “equality,” which puts all citizens on the same level, as well as a key step in the direction “of freedom and democracy in Iraq,” the Chaldean Patriarchate said in a statement released after the vote.