Institute calls for religious freedom in Iraq
The US Institute on Religion and Public Policy has urged the American president to do all he can to guarantee freedom of religion under the new regime in Iraq.
In a letter to George Bush , President Joseph K. Grieboski and Executive Vice President Ambassador Aurel-Dragos Munteanu urged that the president and those involved in the process of seeting up the new regime "to work with vigor to guarantee freedom of religion and belief in the lives of the Iraqi people.î
The letter comes as reports emerge of a growing threat of Mulism fundamentalism in Iraq, and potential threats to Iraq's Christians - who make up 3% of the population.
Calling for a secular state they the letter states; ìThe establishment of a secular system with respect for and equal treatment of all religious faiths under the law is a fundamental imperative of any democracyî.
ìReligion and religious people are a cornerstone of democracy and of vitality in a nation. The time has come that Iraqi people enjoy the same benefits and vitality that freedom of religious pluralism and practice promote and ensure.î
The letter pointed out the inherent role that freedom of religion and belief plays in democratization.
ìA guarantee of religious freedom also supports the other fundamental human rights necessary to democracy: because it is grounded in the universal dignity of the human person, religious freedom encourages other related rights. A government that denies the right to freedom of religion and conscience is far more likely to deny other rights central to human dignity, such as freedom from torture or murder.î
The letter further stressed the intrinsic nature of religious freedom in the fight against terror.
ìWhere freedom of religion and belief is protected by governments and valued by citizens, religion-based terrorism will not take root. In this sense, freedom of conscience in Iraq is an antidote to terrorism, especially religion-based terrorism, as it encourages a
theological and political awareness of the need to accept the ëother.í"