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Religious minorities find protection, support in southern Iraq

While some Iraqi minority populations are suffering persecution by extremists in the northern and western regions, others are enjoying freedom and resources in central and southern Iraq, where the government contributes to building and maintaining their holy places.
Members of Iraqi security forces stand guard as Christians attend a mass at a church in Baghdad December 25, 2015.   REUTERS/ Ahmed Saad - RTX201GI
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BABIL, Iraq — Minority populations are suffering in areas under the control of militants in northern and western Iraq, where their temples have been destroyed and they are forbidden to build new ones. Meanwhile, these groups are enjoying freedom and safety in the predominantly Shiite southern areas, where the Iraqi government sponsors and supervises construction and renovation projects and allocates large sums to protect the holy places of minority groups.

The Iraqi Cabinet's Office of Christian, Yazidi and Sabean Endowments oversees several temple construction and renovation projects, including the construction of the administrative building of the Church of Saint Mari, the Apostle of the Assyrian Church of the East. This building has been allocated 250 million dinars ($214,000), and 90% of the project has been completed, the office's head Raad Kajaji said Oct. 1.

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