Risking death, Muslim lawyer stands up for Iraqi Jews’ rights

| ב׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ז (27/05/2017) | 0 Comments
Iraqi Jews rescued in Operation Michaelberg in 1947

Muslim Iraqi lawyer Ammar al-Hamadani is working to ensure that Iraqi Jews ‎receive the compensation they deserve after being expelled from ‎Iraq following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence • Hamadani seeks to make matter a global issue. Rachel Avraham

When people think of Iraq, they think of a country plagued by war, on the verge of ‎collapsing. They think of a failed state that ethnically cleanses minorities and blows up holy sites as well ‎as ancient archaeological treasures. Most Iraqi Jews see nothing but a bleak picture when they look ‎at Iraq today. However, within this war-torn country, there is a Muslim voice of hope, calling out ‎for his country to become a true democratic state and to give Iraqi Jews the justice that they ‎deserve. He does this under the threat of death but remains determined to speak out for all of the ‎minorities in his country, including the Jews. ‎

Ammar al-Hamadani, a Muslim Iraqi lawyer, is working to ensure that Iraqi Jews ‎receive the compensation they deserve in a new democratic Iraq after they were expelled from ‎the country following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Referring to the expulsion of Iraq’s Jews and ‎the seizure of their property as “unconstitutional and inhumane,” he stated with sadness that the ‎laws that prompted the Iraqi Jewish community into exile remain in force today “despite the ‎political change that took place in Iraq in 2003 and the enactment of a new Iraqi constitution in ‎‎2005 in which we had some hope for change for Iraqi Jews in a democratic, federal and multi‎cultural Iraq.”‎

Al-Hamadani emphasized that it is unlawful to strip any Iraqi of their citizenship for any reason and ‎it is the right of “any Iraqi who has lost his citizenship for either political, racist or sectarian reasons ‎to request the restoration of citizenship.” However, al-Hamadani noted that while the Iraqi ‎Constitution permitted the restoration of Iraqi citizenship for those who lost it for the above ‎reasons, Iraqi Jews were excluded: “Iraqi Jews remain deprived of justice under the new Iraq in ‎such a crude violation of the constitution.” ‎

‎”What is most puzzling is the very constitution that speaks of the freedom of belief and religious ‎practice of Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabian Mandaeans does not address the Jews of Iraq ‎as a basic religion,” al-Hamadani proclaimed. He noted that in theory, the Iraqi Jewish community ‎has the right to bring their case for restoring their rights before the Administrative Court in Iraq, ‎which is linked to the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council — technically independent of the ‎executive authority and the government. However, he asserted that in reality, the Administrative ‎Court is politicized, works to defend the actions of the Iraqi government and thus won’t give them ‎the justice that they deserve.

“Any lawyer who tries to defend the Jews of Iraq before these two ‎government-controlled courts is being threatened with blackmail and intimidation because your ‎opponent is the judge himself, so that the lawyer cannot take the liberty to defend his clients and ‎therefore, issues remain floating in the court because lawyers fear to follow up,”‎ he explained.

‎”Based on all the above, I am hereby demanding that the case of Iraqi Jews’ rights become a ‎universal matter that is adopted by international courts and organizations,” al-Hamadani stressed. ‎‎”This should secure an international stance in the face of the Iraqi government, which could force it ‎into providing justice to the honorable Iraqi Jewish sect and to restore all their rights just like all ‎sects of the Iraqi people. Also, I would like to confirm my willingness to provide all kinds of ‎support in defense of the rights of my Jewish brothers. And allow me to note here, I am doing all ‎this pro-bono and out of commitment to my national duties towards my country.”‎

In response to al-Hamadani’s call for Iraqi Jews to receive the compensation that they deserve, ‎Aryeh Shemesh, the leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in Israel, praised him: “We have ‎to praise this person who dared to talk clearly and to tell the truth. This is a major ‎thing. I just hope that more people will get the same idea to help us fight to get compensated.”‎

Levana Zamir, the head of the Central Organization of Jews from Arab and Islamic countries, ‎added: “Sometimes very important things begin with just normal people, simple people, a lawyer ‎like him. Then another can do the same and then the others. It can lead to all of the Arab countries ‎recognizing their mistakes. But he is not the first. In Egypt 10 years ago, Amin al-Mahdi, an ‎Egyptian journalist, wrote a book titled ‘The Other Opinion.’ He said exactly the same thing. The ‎book was translated into Hebrew.

“He said that when Egypt is a democratic country, ‎we will have peace. He cried in his book that Nasser expelled the Jews. He said it was only Egypt’s loss. Now, after al-Mahdi, we have other people saying the same thing. Maged Farag said all of this on ‎the Egyptian TV two years ago after he came to Israel for an art exhibition. He said, look, we have ‎normalization between the governments, so why not the people? It’s time to finish all of these ‎wars,” she said. ‎

[ original here ]

Category: Justice for Jews of Arab Countries

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