August 02, 2005

Democracy In Action


From AP: Islam Likely Main Basis for Iraqi Law.

CAIRO, Egypt - The framers of Iraq's constitution appear likely to enshrine Islam as the main basis of law in the country — a stronger role than the United States had hoped for and one some Iraqis fear will mean a more fundamentalist regime.

Arab constitutions vary widely over the role of Islamic law, ranging from Lebanon, where the word "Islam" never appears, to Saudi Arabia, which says the Quran itself is its constitution.

Culture weighs far more heavily than the constitution and law, particularly when it comes to women. In Gulf nations — where the constitutions spell out a slightly lesser role for Islamic law, or Sharia, than in Egypt — women are more segregated and wear more conservative veils covering the entire face.

Kuwait, for example, bans alcohol and only gave women the right to vote this year, in contrast to Egypt, where beer, wine and liquor are sold openly and women have been voting since the early 20th century.

Yet most Gulf nations' constitutions state that Sharia is "a main source" of legislation, while Egypt takes the more definitive phrasing of "the source" — a fine distinction taking on major importance in Iraq.

Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat amended the constitution during the 1970s, changing the language from "a source" to "the source" to beef up his Islamic credentials rather than to start implementing Sharia.

But in Iraq, some fear the Shiite Muslim leaders who want similar wording in Iraq's constitution hope to lay the groundwork for a more fundamentalist rule, at least in Shiite-dominated areas.

Already, Shiite leaders in some southern cities have tried imposing Islamic-based rules, pressuring women to wear headscarves and forcing liquor stores and music shops to close. [Emphasis added]

As Charles Johnson noted: "If Iraq does adopt the barbaric 14th century code of shari’a as the basis for their constitution, the terrorists truly will have won."

For years we've been criticizing the Bush administration for allowing even the possibility of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Iraq. For example:
Regime Change
Faith in Politics
Majority Rule?
Vote of Non-confidence
Democracy Is

Contrary to reassurances from Colin Powell and Bush, some form of theocracy seems more and more likely.

UPDATE -- Aug. 5 From The Washington Times: Iraqi women urge U.S. to protect their rights (via Free Thoughts).

Iraqi women took their fight for equal rights to American lawmakers yesterday, urging them to use their influence to see that women's rights are protected in the new constitution.

With just 10 days until delegates in Baghdad present the final draft of Iraq's basic law, it is still not clear how large a role will be given to Islamic Shariah law, which traditionally subordinates women to men.

"The [American] men and women, the brave people who went there to free [Iraqis] from Saddam [Hussein], they didn't free them to put them under another dictatorship; that is very clear to all of us," said Basma Fakri, president of the Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq.

During an appearance in Washington yesterday, she said it was entirely appropriate for President Bush, the Senate and House to let Iraq's constitutional negotiators know "that Iraq should be free."

"That was the mission. We don't want to go back in time, we don't want to create another dictatorship. That should be clear and loud to the Iraqi government and to the constitutional committee," she said.

Posted by Forkum at August 2, 2005 09:41 PM