Report: the Legal Status of the Evangelical Churches in Iraq

With the exception of the Presbyterian Evangelical Protestant church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Iraq’s Evangelical churches are not legally recognized. Since 2003, the General Society for Iraqi National Evangelical Churches (GSINEC) has requested from the consecutive Iraqi governments the legal recognition of the Evangelical churches and affiliation with the Christians, Yezidi, and Sabaean-Mandaean Religions Diwan (also known as  waqf). However, these consecutive governments have denied the Evangelical churches legal registration and recognition. In Geneva, the World Evangelical Alliance seeks to keep this item on the agenda of the Human Rights Council as well as other U.N. bodies. In April 2020, we submitted to the Human Rights Committee a report on Freedom of Religion and the Status of the Evangelical Churches in Iraq, ahead of the consideration of the List of Issues for Iraq during the Committee’s 129th session in June 2020.

The denial of recognition and affiliation with the Christian, Yezidi and Sabaean-Mandaean waqf include the inability for the churches to open a bank account, the inability to own and register  property, the denial  of tax and customs exemption, the inability to produce religious publications, and the inability to operate charitable, social and educational institutions including kindergartens and clinics.

In a country where the continued presence of Christians is threatened, the WEA calls on the government of Iraq, and on the newly appointed Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, to show a gesture of goodwill to Iraq’s Evangelical Christians and to grant the GSINEC their request.