A law forcing children of converts to Islam to be regarded as Muslims will contribute to the extinction of Christianity in Iraq, a bishop has warned.
The senior Catholic bishop in Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan, warned Christians had been discriminated against by a refusal to allow an amendment to the controversial law.
Bishop Rabban al-Qas, Chaldean Catholic bishop of Amadiya and Zakho, told AsiaNews that the failure to amend the law could have serious "repercussions in Kurdistan" where it is not yet applicable. He warned the law "will drive Christians away", accelerating a process that is already underway.
Earlier this week, Christian Today reported Vicar of Baghdad Andrew White's own warning that Christianity might not survive another five years in Iraq.
Bishop al-Qas said: "We are facing a genocide in a country that knows only death and liberticidal laws. Here there is neither freedom nor respect."
Under Iraqi law, children are automatically Muslim if one parent converts to Islam. Christians in parliament proposed an amendment allowing children to be brought up Christian and to choose their own faith at 18 but it was defeated 137-51. The law that children of a convert to Islam must be brought up and remain Muslim has not yet been enforced in Iraqi Kurdistan, however.
Bishop al-Qas and his priests have provided religious refuge for hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees from Mosul, seized by Islamic State last year, and the Nineveh Plain.
The bishop told Asian News: "It is not just a political project. There are also traces of an Islam that wants to eliminate minorities: a faith that prevents you from coming back or change if you are Muslim. If you change your religion, it will be forever. Such a mentality has nothing that is human."