Black Iraqis expose long history of racism, slavery

Black Iraqis



The death of George Floyd during his arrest in the US city of Minneapolis last month has shed light on the plight of another community: Black Iraqis.

Although they have lived in Iraq for more than 1,000 years, the black Iraqis say they are still discriminated against because of the colour of their skin.

They say racial discrimination against them is on par with the racism experienced by African Americans, sometimes even surpassing it, as they not only face a lack of recognition, but also economic, political and social atrocities.

Many of them are descendants of African slaves brought to Iraq and have lived in the southern city of Basra for centuries.

Many say they are unfairly represented and want to prohibit being called “slaves”, especially as the burdens of their ancestors continue to haunt them.

The killing of Mr Floyd has put the global spotlight on racism, one that Black Iraqis say has been brushed off by authorities.

Members of Iraq’s black community, estimated to be around 2 million, have shown solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Footage that gripped the world showed a white police officer kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck to pin him to the ground for more than nine minutes went viral.

The movement calls for an end to racism and police abuse.

“What happened to Floyd must never happen again, it is not only a Black issue, but is a matter that concerns people from all over the world, we will keep fighting until racism ends,” said Mohammed Falih, a 31-year-old photographer from Basra.

He says getting employment in Iraq has been very tough for those of African origin. “Getting a job is like a dream, both the government and private sectors see us as second class citizens in the community,” he said.

For decades, Black Iraqis have been humiliated, degraded and have had their dignity taken away from them, Abdul Hussein Abdul Razzaq, founder of the People of Brown Skin movement, told The National.

“Blacks have lived in Iraq as slaves for centuries, they are among Iraq’s most poorest and vulnerable, which is a testament to the fact that racism in Iraq is worse than what exists in America,” Mr Razzaq said.

“The equality that the constitution talks about is a lie,” he said.

Blacks in Iraq have been relegated to menial jobs or work as musicians and dancers.

“Some prefer to keep the jobs of their ancestors such as being servants in the homes of tribal sheikhs. Very few have managed to cross the racial barriers,” he said.

Mr Razzaq demanded that Black Iraqis have their “dignity back and to end social discrimination.”

“We want the government to compensate us for what we have missed out on,” he said.

There has been virtually no attention on discrimination against Black Iraqis, they say.

Slavery was abolished here in the 19th century, but many say black people in modern-day Iraq still face discrimination




Written by Per Second News


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