Iraqi Parliament strips MP of immunity amid libel, Ba'ath-related complaints

The Iraqi Parliament voted in a session on Tuesday to overturn the immunity of controversial lawmaker Faiq al-Sheikh Ali.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Parliament voted in a session on Tuesday to overturn the legal immunity of controversial MP Faiq al-Sheikh Ali.

Sheikh Ali has long stirred controversy with statements that criticize Iraqi politicians and often poses as an advocate of the poor. He led the Civilized Alliance in the 2018 national parliamentary elections and is the head of the People’s Party for Reform, a self-described liberal and secular movement.

A parliamentary source told Kurdistan 24 following the Tuesday session that the legislature voted to strip Sheikh Ali of his immunity under three complaints from the Higher Judicial Council (HJC), the national judiciary.

One of the complaints was regarding the glorification of the Ba’ath Party, which ruled Iraq for decades that saw the brutal oppression of many components of the country, including genocide against the Kurds.

Sheikh Ali has said the allegations were false and claimed he had actively opposed the Ba’ath Party for decades and, as such, it is impossible for him to glorify it.

He asserted that the complaints against him were based on comparisons between former President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and the current leadership. Bakr was the head of the Ba’ath party for many years before losing power to Saddam Hussein, who the United States toppled in 2003.

The source added that the two other complaints were related to libel charges that Sheikh Ali had made via Twitter against Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s Adviser for Women’s Affairs, Hanan al-Fatlawi.

The MP was born to a religious family in the Shia-majority city of Najaf. He lived in Baghdad where he studied to become a lawyer. He then left the country for Britain but returned in 2003 and later became an active politician.

The Iraqi legislature has previously taken such action against MPs after requests from the HJC. In late August, lawmakers stripped Talal Zubaie of his legal immunity as he faced charges of corruption and extortion.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany