Iraqi PM orders government institutions to remove sectarian labels
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered the removal of sectarian labels for all government employees after a list of applicants for military college classified them as Sunni or Shiite. Iraq’s protest movement has demanded an end to sectarian divisions that have fueled violence in the country for years.
Yehia Rasool, spokesperson for Kadhimi on military affairs, published a list of people who had been accepted into military college. In addition to revealing names and home provinces, the list also labeled their religious sect. The Sunni and Shiite classifications were quickly condemned on social media and Rasool published another version of the list, concealing the sectarian information.
The prime minister then ordered all state institutions to cease the practice of classifying their employees by sect. “Such a classification is cancelled in all state institutions,” his office tweeted, adding they should note employees’ geographical distribution only.
The prime minister “has directed that this mechanism [classification by sect] should not be applied at any state institutions for any reason,” said Ahmed Mulla Tala, political spokesperson for Kadhimi. Only a person’s Iraqi citizenship and identity cards will define them “with full respect to all sub-identities.”
Since 2003, after the US invasion, government positions have been divvied up by sect, ethnicity, or religion. Shiites, which are in the majority, control most senior positions. Sunnis – including Kurds – have complained that their numbers are much lower than Shiites in government institutions, especially the army. Source