In Baghdad yesterday , some Christians, joined by Muslims and others, led a peaceful protest to restore minority representation in Iraq. One priest from the Sacred Heart Church in Baghdad exclaimed: “They told us we don’t have a place in our government, and we don’t know why.”
The protest was small but determined. About 75 Christians and others gathered at a church here on Monday to demand that the Iraqi Parliament reinstate a section of an earlier version of the provincial elections law that ensured political representation for Iraq’s minorities.
The provision, which allowed for provincial council seats for Christians and two other minority groups, was dropped before Parliament approved the elections law on Sept. 24.
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Many Christians stayed away out of fear of bombings or other violence, they said.
“My friends are afraid, and they said I was mad to come here,” said a 50-year old woman . . . . “But I don’t care about death,” the woman said, adding that she came to stand up for her religion and her political rights.
Marwan Arkan, 20, said that the situation for Christians in Iraq was still perilous. Last week, he said, he was kidnapped by gunmen as he walked to Sacred Heart Church, where he works. The kidnappers held him for three days, he said, beat him and finally let him go, for reasons that were unclear to him.
“I thought that they kidnapped me because they wanted to reach our priest, but why did they do that?” Mr. Arkan asked. “Did they want to threaten us?”