The Plight of Minorities in Iraq

Global Challenges Conflict

The Plight of Minorities in Iraq

Posted on: 22nd July 2014

    As reports emerge via the United Nations of the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, particularly Christians, in Mosul and other parts of Northern Iraq, 'The Weekly Number' highlights this and more general hostilities against Christians around the world. 

    The Weekly Number is produced each week by Brian Grim, the President of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation.

    It has been reported that all Christians have been forced from the city of Mosul.

    The blog looks at statistics on global religion in the context of current world events and this week focuses on reports around the persecution of Christians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It has been reported that all Christians have been forced from the city of Mosul, with the blog suggesting that the city was previously home to around 60,000 Christians, according to figures provided by the World Religion Database

    You can read more from the Weekly Number blog here.

    In terms of research on the trends in hostilities against religious groups, a Pew Research Centre study released in January 2014 finds that Christians have faced religious hostilities in the largest amount of countries between 2006 and 2012. Christians faced hostilities in 151 countries and Muslims in 135 countries.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also released a statement condemning the persecutions of minorities in Mosul by the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). This follows a report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN human rights office (OHCHR) on 18 July 2014 entitled, 'Report on the Protection of Civilians in the Non International Armed Conflict in Iraq: 5 June - 5 July 2014',  which found there were "large-scale killings, injuries and destruction of damage of livelihoods and property," by ISIS.

    Key Findings from the United Nations Report

    Key Findings from the United Nations Report
    • The minimum number of civilians killed in the first six months of 2014 is 5,576, with at least 11,665 wounded;
    • Since the beginning of June 2014, a minimum of 1,531 civilians have been killed and 1,763 have been wounded;
    • Some 1.2 million people have been internally displaced as a result of the violence – including over 600,000 since the beginning of June alone;
    • As of 5 July, the cities of Mosul, Tikrit, Tal Afar, Beiji, Quayyara, Sinjar, Suleiman Bek, Rashad, Hawijah, Riyadh, Fallujah, and Saqlawiyah, remained under full or partial control of armed opposition groups, with fighting ranging across parts of Anbar, Ninewa, Salah id-Din, Kirkuk and Diyala governorates;
    • There are serious concerns for the protection and welfare of members of vulnerable groups, particularly women, female-headed households, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and members of diverse minority groups (ethnic, cultural or religious);
    • In Anbar governorate, approximately 550,000 people have been displaced around Ramadi and Fallujah by the conflict since January.
    • Since the fall of Mosul in early June an estimated 650,000 more people have been displaced. Of these, approximately 375,354 individuals (62,559 families) have been displaced from Ninewa and Salah id-Din governorates (200,628 individuals or 33,438 families (53 per cent) from Ninewa governorate; 149,280 individuals or 24,880 families (40 per cent) from Salah id-Din governorate), with the remainder coming from other governorates;
    • The Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) established two IDP camps to cater for those fleeing the conflict to the Kurdistan Region – the Gamawa IDP camp in Shekhan District, which is housing 172 families, and the Khazir Transit Camp, which hosts 550 families;
    • In areas under the control or influence of ISIS and associated armed groups, there are reports of shortages in basic life-sustaining items, including food, water, shelter, fuel, electricity, and limited access to medical care;
    • It was alleged that on 2 July, ISIS took control of the Nabi Yunus Sunni mosque in eastern Mosul, ousting the Imam and preventing worshippers from praying in it.
    • On the morning of 4 July, ISIS allegedly blew up the Sunni shrine of Imam Sultan bin Asim Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab in the Makhmour district, southeast of Mosul city. The explosion resulted in the wounding of one of those in charge of the shrine.
    • On 5 July, ISIS posted on social media images of Sunni and Shi'a shrines allegedly destroyed and/or blown up. According to its claims, the Tomb of Sheikh Fathi and the shrine of Sufi Sheikh Ahmed Rifai were destroyed. UNAMI has yet to confirm the reported destruction of the Jawad and Qaddo Husseiniyah in Tal Afar and the Al-Quba Husseiniyah in Mosul;
    • Residents and other reliable sources in Mosul reported on 10 June that Shari'a law (takfiri) has been implemented in parts of Mosul controlled by ISIS, restricting rights to freedom of movement, assembly among other rights;
    • UNAMI received reports on 12 June that in al-Alam, northwest of Tikrit in Salah id-Din, the ISIS appointed mayor announced the imposition of Shari'a law, including the establishment of religious courts to punish those who do not comply or who are declared as apostates. 
    • It was reported on 13 June that ISIS issued a document entitled "Watheqat al Madina" setting out the rules and regulations applicable to all persons living in Ninewa governorate, and covering all aspects of life from food to movement, employment, and religious observance. The document authorises the execution of any persons failing to abide by the rules, destroying religious sites of other schools of thoughts or religions, and restricting severely women's right to freedom of movement among other preoccupying regulations. 

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