ASIA/IRAQ- Attacks and discrimination against religious minorities are increasing

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - While the overall rate of violence decreases, the attacks, intimidation and discrimination against religious minorities, including Christians increases. This is why a specific "anti-discrimination" Law is urgently needed. This is what is said in a new report by the NGO "Minority Rights Group International", which monitors the ethnic, cultural and religious minorities in the world. Despite progress as far as the internal stability is concerned "minorities feel excluded from public life in the new Iraq", notes the report sent to Agenzia Fides. The Document confirms the phenomenon of emigration, which is decimating minority communities, to the point that many are likely to disappear altogether. It also underlines that, in a general climate of discrimination and marginalization, minorities in Iraq have difficulties in accessing employment, education and health care. Although violence in 2011 is slightly lower than in 2010 - notes the text - there have been several attacks on churches; an attack against a Turkmen political party; repeated kidnappings and murders of Mandaeans, Yazidis religious groups members. According to the Report, businesses for goods or services deemed "un-Islamic", such as liquor stores continue to be targeted. The Report recalls the emblematic episode of the suffering of minorities: the suicide attack on a church in Baghdad in October 2010, which caused 56 deaths and more than 1,000 families to flee. In addition to the three majority groups (Muslims, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds), communities of Armenians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Assyrians, Circassians, Baha'is live in Iraq, and there are also small groups of Sabians, Mandaeans, Shabak, Turkmen, Yazidis, Jews and Palestinians. All these minorities represent less than 5 percent of Iraq's population, but according to the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR), they constitute 20% of the refugees. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 09/12/2011)