Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Iraq: Constitution, Politics and Sadrist Goons

This just in from Iraq the Model:

Right now there are bloody clashes in Najaf between the supporters of Muqtada Al-Sadr and the residents of the city.

The clashes started after Al-Sadr men tried to reopen their office which has been closed for months but the locals attacked the office, set fire in it and clashed with Sadr's men. The police forces intervened and the casualties till now are 7 killed and tens wounded.

I have received news saying that a curfew has been imposed in the city.

Go read the rest here.

It's worth mentioning that the residents of Najaf were really angry in April 2004 with Sadr's group. Sadr's militia had taken up residence in the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, using it for a weapons depot, impromptu Sharia courts, shooting from it and possibly stealing certain valuable holy items, damaging the mosque, kidnapping and murdering men, women and children after holding these impromptu "religious courts". Reports at the time indicated that people were tortured, bodies were found in ovens having been baked alive, mutilations, hangings, shootings and decapitation.

Sadr became persona non grata in Najaf. The coalition moved on him in April after numerous demands from the Najaf governor and were on the verge of physically ousting him from the Imam Ali Mosque, most holy shrine of the Shia, burial place of Ali, Mohammed's cousin and son in law, the man the Shia believed to have been the rightful successor of the Caliphate after Mohammed's death, who was eventually martyred (the beginning of the Sunni/Shia separation, Shia actually means "party of Ali").

At the same time the coalition was moving in on him, the residence of Najaf were beginning to take up arms against the Sadrist in self defense. Sadr himself was only saved when Ayatollah Sistani came with several thousand "peacekeepers", fearing the destruction of the Imam Ali Mosque, and escorted Sadr and his followers from the mosque. Sadr immediately took up residence in the center of Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, named after Muqtada al-Sadr's father who was killed by Saddam in the early 90's. This gave him protection from would be avengers and from government prosecution.

For the victims of Sadr's 60 day reign of terror, Sadr and his party became the enemy. The fact that he has tried to return to the city, if only through his henchmen setting up shop, indicates that he thought a year was long enough to dampen memories. Unfortunately for him, the mutilated bodies in the kitchen of the Ali Mosque will not soon be forgotten. Sadr also has an arrest warrant still out for conspiracy in the killing of Khoie, another respected cleric who was Sadr's competition. Khoie was gunned down on the steps of a mosque in 2003.

Further reports from Najaf indicate that the police are exchanging fire with Sadr's militiamen. In Baghdad, Sadrists have accused the Badr brigades, another Shia militia and an arm of the SCIRI (Iranian backed Shia Islamist political party) of being responsible for the attacks in Najaf and have attacked several Badr and SCIRI offices.

Stay tuned or go to Iraq the Model for updates.

MSM covers story here

In other news, women's rights activist and member of the American Islamic Congress, Safia Souhail, has issued a statement against the Iraqi constitution which still indicates Islam as "a" source of law. Women's rights groups in Iraq have been lobbying for several months against this inclusion indicating that it will be detrimental to human rights much less women's rights.

"Human rights should not be linked to Islamic Sharia law at all. It should be listed separately in the constitution," said Safia Souhail, Iraq's ambassador to Egypt.

The prominent women's rights campaigner denounced wording that grants each religious sect the right to run its own family courts -- apparently doing away with previous civil codes -- as an open door to further Islamicise the legal system.

Although in practice, many Iraqis end up having recourse to religious authorities or informal tribal law, the idea of a united civil code is central to the modern state, Souhail said.

"This will lead to creating religious courts. But we should be giving priority to the law," she said.

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment."

Read the rest here.

Although the Constitutional Draft Committee (CDC) has issued statements that the draft is completed and will be ready for referendum, other members of the committee and the assembly have indicated negotiations continue since the role of federalism and Islam in law is still an issue.

Preamble of the constitution of Iraq (hat tip: countercolumn

(hat tip: Sandmonkey)

1 comment:

an american said...

I think I mentioned on one of your earlier posts that Sadr sees religion as merely a tool for his ambitions and we should have taken him out a year ago. He still does, and we still should. Sadr has been busy, and so has our guy on vacation learning how to ride his bicycle.

Sadr’s recent action is just another step in his ambition—moving up the turban ladder for influence by challenging Hakim, an ayatollah, and his SCIRI party to a pissing contest. Sadr wants to move uptown while still keeping his home in Basra. Sistani, do you hear footsteps? Since George won’t do it, Hakim and Sistani should team up to take out the fat fart while he’s in the buffet line rather than try to mediate with him. Mediation works for, not against Sadr.

If you are interested in what the rights of women in Iraq (south of Kurd territory) are becoming and will be (unless Sadr gets to the top of the ladder), take a look at He’s got everything covered, even the rights of a nine-year-old “wife” in divorce matters. Not many.

Some of it is really funny. Like how it is okay for a devout, married Muslim man to be with even a Jewish hooker. Simple, you just enter into a temporary marriage. Problem solved. As Sistani explains, a temporary marriage can last from one hour, one day, or one month with virtually any infidel. And it is renewable, of course. Gotta love “moral” logic that pays attention to contractual details.

There’s much more, and a lot of it would be funny if the situation wasn’t sad. Regardless of what’s on paper that is or isn’t ratified, clerics like Sistani and Sadr will determine the rights of women in Iraq. We abdicated any effective role in that area.