Easter holidays exclusive to Christians in Iraq spark accusations of racism and discrimination

BAGHDAD — In a move that has drawn criticism, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Council, the 9th and 10th of April have been declared holidays exclusively for Christians in honor of Easter. In contrast, Islamic holidays apply to all Iraqis. While such decisions have been issued in the past, it has always been without the inclusion of other ethnic or religious components, resulting in allegations of racism.

Joseph Sliwa, former Syriac Member of the Iraqi Parliament and current Deputy Head of the Bethnahrin Patriotic Union (Huyodo Bethnahrin Athroyo, HBA), has criticized the decision via social media. He tagged Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani and accused him of consolidating racism and segregation by issuing this decision.

Sliwa also reminded Al-Sudani of his political program, where he promised to establish coexistence among religious and political delegations. He further noted that the Revolutionary Command Council used to grant Easter holiday exclusively to Christians, much like Al-Sudani, in reference to the rule of the Baath Party.

Sliwa, in an interview with our news desk, stated that the decision is “purely racist”, made by a prime minister who had promised democracy and non-discrimination between the ethnic and religious components of Iraq. The decision will further the sense of alienation among minority groups and jeopardize the fragile peace that exists in the country, he said.