Iraqi courts seeking out atheists for prosecution

By Omar al-Jaffal

Arrest warrants have been issued for four Iraqis on atheism charges, according to Dhi Qar province’s Garraf district judiciary. The announcement garnered quite a reaction on media and social networks, as some say these hunts infringe on the rights of the Iraqi people, whose constitution guarantees them freedom of belief and expression. Other observers say the campaign has political aspects.

Dhidan al-Ekili, the chief Garraf judge, told local Iraqi newspapers March 11 that security forces had been able to arrest one of the four indicted, as the search for the remaining three continued. Ekili said they are being pursued for “holding seminars during social gatherings to promote the idea of the nonexistence of God and to spread and popularize atheism.”

According to Ekili, the local court administration has tasked intelligence agencies with cracking down on the “atheism phenomenon.” Ekili said the crackdown is in accordance with the Iraqi Penal Code.

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