00:25 GMT +319 November 2019
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    Shakir Waheib, a leader in the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), center, searching a government office in Ramadi, in Iraq's Anbar Province

    Discrimination Poses Bigger Problem for Iraqi Christians Than ISIL Threat

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    Representative of the Christians in the Iraqi National Assembly said that for Christians in the Middle East general discrimination is the main problem rather than the threat of the Islamic state (ISIL).

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) For Christians in the Middle East general discrimination is the main problem rather than the threat of the Islamic state (ISIL), Yonadam Kanna, a representative of the Christians in the Iraqi National Assembly, said on Tuesday.

    “For us, Christians, the ISIL is not the only problem. We have been suffering discrimination. Now we have an excellent constitution, but it is only on paper,” Kanna said at an academic conference on the ISIL terrorist group in Moscow.

    According to Kanna, 50 years ago almost 1.3 million Christians lived in Iraq today this number has diminished to 600,000 due to discrimination.

    “I don’t want to say that this is the government’s policy, but in practice abuse of power happens again and again,” Kanna stressed calling on Russia to continue its support.

    According to Iraq's constitution, Christians and other religious minorities are allowed to practice their religions freely. However, religious minority groups still suffer from attacks and rampant crime. Individual Christians are frequently reported to be kidnapped to blackmail their families for large sums of money.

    In 2014, the ISIL expelled Christians and other religious minorities from the valley of Nineveh (Northern Iraq). A total of about 200,000 people have fled to neighboring Kurdistan as a result of harassment and intimidation, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.

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