Four Christian members of the Iraqi parliament have called for a change in the law to preserve the religion of dependent children whose fathers convert to Islam, reports Middle East Christian News.

As the civil law now stands, children under the age of 18 become Muslim when their father converts. An amendment would mean that minors keep their religion until they are 18. The Christian MPs stressed that the current law contradicts the Quranic principle of  ‘no compulsion in Islam’ as well as Article 41 in the 2005 Iraqi constitution, which states Iraqi citizens are ‘free in their personal, religious and doctrinal choices’.

The proposal states that the current legal wording is causing ‘considerable suffering’ for Christians and other minority faiths, including Yazidis and Mandaeans. It gives the example of children coming from Christian backgrounds who have grown up learning Christian traditions and religious customs, some even committing themselves to working for the church, teaching in orphanages or joining monasteries. Changing the religion of Christian minors without their consent exposes them and their families to great personal and social stress. The current law also causes problems when Christian minors who have become adults want to marry to discover that, against their knowledge, they are Muslim by law, so cannot marry a Christian without great social and legal complications.

Religious freedoms are written into Iraq’s 2005 constitution, but the country is listed as the third most difficult place in the world to be a Christian on Open Doors’ World Watch List.

Source: MCN