THE BAATH GOVERNMENT AND IRAQ'S MINORITY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Created: 7/24/1979

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Al'l'HCVEi; tok ke leas CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY date: oct zoosMational Foreign Assessment Center

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MEMORANDUM

THEOVERNMENT AND IRAQ'S MINORITY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

The secular Baathist government of Iraq appears toolicy of non-discrimination in religious matters.

Iraqi Christians face the same general limitations on their individual freedoms as other Iraqi citizens. The go' nent, however, has shown some concern that reports ofof Christians is damaging its international image and has taken some action to repairamage. Regular public religious services are permitted, new church construction is allowed, and Christians are free to hold government jobs and membership in the Baath Party. Muslims probably get preference over Christians in hiring and promotions, but this is probably more the result of individual prejudices of Muslins than official policy. rime Minister ard Revolutionary Command Council member Tariglose associate of President Saddam llusayn, is an oxamplo of thehristian can attain, but he is the exception and not the rule.

The Baathists' prime concern in the religious sphere is to prevent hostile elements from using religion for political obpec-lltct. Christians,roup, probably are regardedtiallv anti-regime. Sketchy reports of executions andof Iraqi Christians have circulated in recent years. Some of ?hese reportsrobably true, but wc doubt if the government acted solely on the basis of the religious preference of the

allegedhristian, for example, wasthose executed last year for Communist proselytizing in the armed

forces.

memorandum aao prepared by

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Christian proselytizing among Iraqi Muslims, especially by evangelical foreigners, is also frowned upon. The Baath-ists will be particularly alert to limit such activities because not to do so would make tnem vulnerable to criticism from Muslim rundaracntalists bent on defending the faith from the inroads of the secular Baathist regime.

Original document.

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