BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq's (search) newly approved human rights minister turned down the job Sunday, saying he was selected only because he was a Sunni Arab.
"Concentrating on sectarian identities leads to divisions in the society and state, and for that reason I respectfully decline the post," Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shibli (search) told reporters at a news briefing.
Al-Shibli was one of four Sunni Arabs handed posts in Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's (search) new government Sunday, bringing their total representation in Cabinet to seven.
Al-Jaafari had hoped to curb support for Iraq's deadly insurgency by including members of the disaffected Sunni minority into his Shiite-dominated Cabinet. However, nearly 300 people have been killed in a surge of militant attacks since the government took office April 28 with seven vacancies.
After months of political wrangling, parliament approved al-Jaafari's nominations for six of those positions Sunday, including the key oil and defense ministries.