Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Secular Iraqis Speak Out Against the Draft Constitution

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the debate.

The secular leaders said the draft, which was presented to the National Assembly on Monday, contains language that not only establishes the primacy of Islam as the country's official religion, but appears to grant judges wide latitude to strike down legislation that may contravene the faith. To interpret such legislation, the constitution calls for the appointment of experts in Shariah, or Islamic law, to preside on the Supreme Federal Court.

The draft constitution, these secular Iraqis say, clears the way for religious authorities to adjudicate personal disputes like divorce and inheritance matters by allowing the establishment of religious courts, raising fears that a popularly elected Islamist-minded government could enact legislation and appoint judges who could turn the country into a theocracy.
They make a good case considering that two provisions of the draft constitution are "Islam is a main source for legislation," and "No law may contradict Islamic standards."

But George Bush, not surprisingly, isn’t worried.

President Bush, in an appearance in Idaho on Tuesday, asserted that the Iraqi document guaranteed women's rights and the freedom of religion in a country that in recent decades had only known dictatorship.

Labeling the Iraqi constitution an "amazing event," he said, "We had a little trouble with our own conventions writing a constitution."
I’m really starting to think the President is irreparably out of touch with reality. Some of you are probably asking yourselves "It took him this long to realize the President is out of touch with reality?" Good point. But Bush is hitting a new low here by blithely ignoring the rise of theocratic forces in Iraq. We haven’t even finished cleaning up the remains of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and already our President has forgotten about the dangers of Islamic theocracy.

Granted, if the United States is serious about turning over Iraq to the Iraqis, we can’t dictate what goes into their constitution. But certainly more could have been done (and hopefully can be done) to support secularism in that country. At the very least, Bush can drop his "amazing event" routine and get serious about the facts.

--Matthew McCoy