IRAQ – Iraqi Christians Fearful that New Tax Signals Upcoming Persecution

International Christian Concern | 070318

Kurdish Regional Government Institutes a New Business Tax on Select Christian Neighborhoods 

07/03/18 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 23, 2018, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) issued an order that business owners in Ankawa would be charged a fee when renewing their license. This order was not applied until June 2018.

Ankawa is a predominately Christian neighborhood in Erbil whose residents report increasing pressure from Muslims relocating to Ankawa. One Christian resident told ICC, “It was not allowed for Muslims to come and have a house in Ankawa, but now it is a preferable area for Muslims and there are a lot of Muslims who have connections and they are getting permissions.”

This history has contributed to the concerns of Christians that the new tax is being levied against them with ill intentions. Ankawa Today published a statement reading, “For those who doubted the presence of a high tax (jizya) that is exclusively imposed by the Kurdish government on the people of Ankawa and not the other Kurdish towns, it is also worth mentioning that the same tax is being applied gradually on Semel (another Christian majority town near Dohuk), which is clearly discriminatory against Christians… A simple example is the Kurdish town of Baharka which is just next to Ankawa and does not differ from it (administratively speaking) and has no such tax agency office.”