Thursday, June 30, 2005

Little Words, Big Impact

The brothers at Iraq The Model have posted their on going update about the status of the constitutional process in Iraq. Good thing since we wouldn't know what was going on otherwise.

Baha' Al-'Araji, a member of the constitution drafting committee told Al-Mada paper yesterday that there are going to be 5 spots in each Iraqi province where citizens can find designated boxes where they can put their opinions and suggestion as to the process of writing the constitution.[snip]

One million "suggestion forms" are planned to be distributed nationwide soon and there will be specialized teams to read, sort the received forms and prepare summaries that will eventually be submitted periodically to the main committee.

However, the brothers point to a troubling line in the new Bill of Rights:

As you can see, the document is too big to translate but my 1st impression is that it's acceptable in general, especially when it comes to equality among citizens, the laws of citizenship and the freedom of expression except for that...well, there were probably too many clauses that contained something like "…has the right to…unless that contradicts with the basic values and teachings of Islam and the traditions of the Iraqi society".

The brothers hope that this gets ommitted from the final version and, for their sake, I hope so, too.

The danger, as we in America should know, of including this sort of limit on the rights of the people, means that their rights, instead of being expanded, are automatically contracted and made subjugated to something "higher" enshrined in law. In this case, the subjugation is to "Islam" and "traditions of Iraq" whatever those are.

Aside from the subjugation of the people's rights to this nebulous "Islam", there is a problem with defining which "teachings of Islam" since there is Shia and Sunni and inside of each of those there is Salafi, Sufi, Sadrist, Diyawa, SCIRI, whose teachings take precedence?

Secondly, by subjugating the rights of people to these "teachings of Islam" where the Bill of Rights give people the freedom to worship God as they see fit, this means that by default Christians, Jews or any other minority religions in Iraq (of which there are several including Zoarastion) are subject to Islamic teachings, meaning that they could be persecuted by the state or others without protection.

As I noted in a comment to the brothers, the other disturbing issues going on is that the SCIRI/Badr brigade down in Basra have been doing their version of the Saudi "morality police" and going around forcing women to cover themselves, beating students, enforcing gender rules such as not being seen with anyone of the opposite sex who is not your direct relative, etc.

Enshrining the teachings of Islam above the rights of the people means that these groups can get away with this with little censure from the government because they will say they are adhering to the "teachings of Islam and traditions of Iraq".

Secondly, if some one should complain about these activities and make denigrating remarks about Shia Islam, they might be prosecuted for "violating the teachings of Islam".

Frankly, I see this as a back door attempt by the SCIRI and the Sunni religious parties to sneak in some sort of vague "sharia" or law of Islam after Jaafari indicated that there would be no such thing in their constitution.

My note to the brothers: This way leads to tyranny.

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