Iraqi lawyer Hamadani demands justice for Jews

Every so often a voice may be heard in the Arab world arguing that their state cannot be democratic unless the rights of all minorities are respected. The latest such voice belongs to Ammar al-Hamadani, an Iraq lawyer. He is calling for justice for  Iraqi Jews, who were stripped of their citizenship and denied compensation for their property.  In spite of receiving death threats, Hamadani is determined to speak out. Rachel Avraham reports  in Israel Hayom (with thanks: Michelle, Lily):

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.” ‎

 Iraqi Jews escaping to Israel on Operation Michaelberg in 1947

“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.

Read article in full 

Profile of Rachel Avraham

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