The Kurdistan Secular Centre (KSC) was formally established at a 19 April public meeting in Suleymaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan, attended by hundreds of supporters and by national media. The Centre, created to promote secularism and the separation of religion from the state and governing system, was initiated by a number of prominent intellectuals, academics, trade unionists, human rights and political activists.
The current situation
In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Islam is cited in the draft constitution as the main source of legislation. Islam has great influence in the person status law and in the penal code, both of which discriminate against women in numerous ways and form a barrier to the creation of a culture of equality and human rights.
This system of law tolerates, openly or in effect, practices such as female genital mutilation, force marriage, inequality in divorce, child custody and inheritance, punishment of women for “adultery”, denial of abortion rights and allowing a rapist to escape punishment if he agrees to marry the victim. This discrimination facilitates a massive amount of violence against women and girls.
Furthermore religion plays a huge role in our education system, with children taught an ideology that warps their development socially and psychologically. Imams and lecturers mostly belonging to Islamist parties are given great freedom to indoctrinate children and young people. Dozens of religious schools have been established. The government itself has a Ministry of Religion that employs thousands of religious preachers to address hundreds of thousands of people every week, promoting a message that often justifies violence against women and children. This is well documented hundreds of video recordings.
The consequences of power of religion
Because of the power religion is gaining over individuals and over the life of society, freedom in general is limited. Intellectuals, critical thinkers, apostates, writers, poets, journalists, women’s rights activists and other political dissidents are constantly under threat and sometimes physically attacked. We have even seen assassinations by Islamist activists. Meanwhile the state in effect justifies this situation by threatening those who criticise religion with imprisonment. [Read more…]