Do’s and Don’ts for Iraq
Islam is the official religion of Iraq, and the majority of the population is Muslim (97%). There are also small communities of Christians, Yazidis and Mandeans. Religion is deeply intertwined with daily life, government and politics of Iraq. However, the numbers of non-Muslim minority groups have declined dramatically in recent decades as the country has been riddled with sectarian tensions and conflict. This is reflected in the statistics of religious affiliations of Iraqi refugees in English-speaking countries; the majority of those who have fled and been resettled belong to minority religions in Iraq. For example, the 2011 Australian census recorded that the majority of Iraq-born people living in Australia identified as Catholic Christians (35.7%), 32% identified as Muslim and 11.9% identified as Assyrian Apostolic Christians. A further 20.4% affiliated with some other faith and 1.6% claimed to be non-religious.
The Iraqi constitution claims to recognise and protect the practice of the Muslim, Christian, Yazidi and Sabaean-Mandaean faiths. The public record does not reveal which religious denomination a person belongs to, or whether they are Sunni or Shi’a. However, to attain a national identity card, citizens are required to self-identify/register with one of these religions. Without an identity card, Iraqis cannot obtain a passport, register marriages or access public education and some other civil services. For example, the Iraqi constitution explicitly prohibits the practice of the Baha i faith, meaning any person who self-identifies as Baha i is unable to gain proper civilian status. As such, people belonging to an unrecognised minority faith often have to self-identify as Muslim. Unfortunately, even in the cases where religious minorities have constitutional recognition, this official status has not been able to protect many from intimidation and prosecution, such as kidnapping and destruction of property.
Islam in Iraq
Iraq has been a Muslim-majority country since the time period surrounding the Prophet Muhammad’s death. As such.
Last modified: July 19, 2022
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