Iraqi Christian Woman Ordered by Court to Convert to Islam

Iraqi Christian Woman Ordered by Court to Convert to Islam

An Iraqi Christian wife and mother, Elvin Joseph, has been ordered by an Iraqi court to convert to Islam, along with her three children, based on the nation’s Personal Status Law.

Joseph’s mother married a Muslim man and converted to Islam when Joseph was 15, and under current interpretation of the Personal Status Law, children under 18 must also convert to Islam when a parent does.

“When I wanted to obtain my national ID card … [t]hey told me that my mother is Muslim and therefore I have to go to court,” Joseph, a resident of Duhok in the Kurdistan region, said in an interview with Rûdaw.

“I am Christian. I am married to a Christian man. I have three Christian kids. My education was in our language. All my official documents are Christian. Our marriage is registered by the Church,” she said.

The law also says that if one spouse converts to Islam, Sharia law is then applicable, which would strip Joseph of the right to be married to a Christian man.

Akram Mikhail, a lawyer who has experience representing Christians, said he has seen other cases like Joseph’s. The law, he said, “forces someone to convert to Islam.”

Sami Petros, Joseph’s husband, explained that the stipulation would apply to their children as well, forcing them to convert officially to Islam as well.

Iraq was ranked No. 16 on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List for Christian persecution. “The Christian community continues to rebuild and restore as it heals from the horrors of the Islamic State group,” Open Doors’ website says. People who convert from Islam to Christianity are most vulnerable and often face threats, abuse, loss of family and can even be killed for their conversion. “Any outspoken Christian group can also be accused of blasphemy if it’s deemed it is sharing the Gospel with Muslims,” Open Doors added.

A conference was held in late May on the Personal Status law, which concluded with recommendations, including a call for Christian leaders to draft reforms of the law.

Above: Landscape of the city of Duhok, Iraq.

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