Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The New Constitution

The Iraqi people is about to witness a historic day. It is the referendum on the proposed constitution on Saturday 15 October. I'll try to make a general review of some articles of the constitution, introducing my perspective about some of them. I'm not versed in jurisprudence, so I'm referring to the TEXT OF THE DRAFT IRAQI CONSTITUTION (Translated from the Arabic by The Associated Press).

Article (2-1a) states:
"Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:
(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam."

What bothers is the possibility of using Islamic rules by the clerics to tyrannize the society, repressing the spirit of modernization & creativeness.

Article (9-1a) states:
"(a) The Iraqi armed forces and security apparatuses consist of the components of the Iraqi people, keeping in consideration their balance and representation without discrimination or exclusion. They fall under the command of the civil authority, defend Iraq, don't act as a tool of oppression of the Iraqi people, don't intervene in political affairs and they play no role in the rotation of power."

It is strange wording to say "… consist of the components of the Iraqi people, keeping in consideration their balance and representation…" which, as I believe, contains some kind of sectarianism & what if the people of a certain component have no interest in joining the armed forces. How could the balance be achieved?

Another article seems to be a sectarian one & redundant (Article 10), since there is another one (Article 41) guarantees religious rights. But it is clear that there are persecution complexes dominating the minds of the persons who wrote the draft.

"Article (10): The holy shrines and religious sites in Iraq are religious and cultural entities. The state is committed to maintain and protect their sanctity and ensure the exercising of (religious) rites freely in them."

"Article (41): 1st - The followers of every religion and sect are free in:
(a) the practice of their religious rites, including the (Shiite) Husseiniya Rites.
(b) the administration of religious endowments and their affairs and their religious institutions, and this will be organized by law.
2nd - The state guarantees freedom of worship and the protection of its places."

The persecution complexes appear plainly in the second part of article (41-1a) by adding (…including the (Shiite) Husseiniya Rites.). The second part is needless, since it is said in the first part (the practice of their religious rites…). It just adds a trace of sectarianism to the constitution.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does appear in the constitution with slight differences. For example article (18) of the Universal Declaration which states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Has been contracted to:

Article (40): Every individual has freedom of thought and conscience.

Where the word (religion) is deleted, since the matter of changing religion in Islam is a red line which may cause death to any muslim who converts from Islam. Though the main rules of Islam insist that (Compulsion on people to follow certain religion is totally forbidden), but it seems to be perceived in many perverted ways.

As for women, the main achievements are:
1. A baby born for an Iraqi woman & non Iraqi man has the right to take the nationality of its mother (Iraqi). It caused lot of objections which emerge from a tribal-bedouin legacy. Article (18-1) states:
"An Iraqi is anyone who has been born to an Iraqi father or an Iraqi mother."

2. An assertion is made in article (20) that women have the right to be candidates to any public position. The article states:
"Citizens, male and female, have the right to participate in public matters and enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and run as candidates."

I think this confirmation helps to avoid cases like the one happened in Iran last presidential election when a woman tried to be one of the nominees. Her request was refused since the Iranian constitution does not state that women are allowed to run for presidency.

3. The best is what stated in article (47-4):
"A proportion of no less than 25 percent of the seats in the Council of Representatives is specified for the participation of women."

It keeps an influential participation for women in the council. The question is whether this quota will cause incompetent female-members to take the place of more efficient male-members or not.

Another issue was handled inadequately. It is an article which stated:
"All individuals have the right to enjoy the rights stated in international human rights agreements and treaties endorsed by Iraq that don't run contrary to the principles and rules of this constitution."

It had the serial number (44). Secularist members of the committee of the draft debated that the international treaties have the upper hand over the national laws. This means that lot of contradictions will appear and to be settled in favor of the international ones. It caused the Islamic members to say that they'll stand against putting into practice any international treaty which opposes Islamic rules. As a result the article was deleted and the Iraqi people lost a broader space of liberty.

As I'm writing this post the Iraqi political parties, participants in the political process, have reached a compromise to comply with the Sunnis demands to review the constitution within four months after the elections of 15 December 2005.

Most of the Iraqis know very little about the details of the new constitution. So, they are going to vote according to what the clerics & the tribes' leaders would say.

For me, I'll say (YES) for the constitution since it represents a milestone in the long journey to achieve better life to the coming Iraqi generations.

God bless Iraq.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Happy day for Iraqis everywhere. I love reading your blog and never miss a post. Your opinions always seem well considered and knowledgable.

As to the "diversity" clause you object to, you are right AND wrong. You are right to say that it is difficult to enforce fairly. You are wrong to say that it shouldn't be there at all. In the USA there is something called "affirmative action". It was originally 1960's legislation designed to right the historic effect of discrimination against "minororities" (espcially African-Americans and women). It was and is broadly opposed by many. I myself have been opposed to various schemes and proposals tied to the actual implementation (as you imply, this concept is a very difficult legal standard.) Today, affirmative action practices are broadly affirmed and empowered by all levels of judiciary. They have also become an indespensable plank in building corporate human resources policies.

May God Bless. Happy Trails.
WC in Texas

3:56 AM  
Blogger Leap Frog said...

Thanks for posting this information.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ibn Alrafidain,'
I am happy for you that your country is making history and will become a better place because of the brave Iraqi people who stand up against the terroists and the brave Iraqi and American and the Coalition men and women who are working and fighting for the cause of freedome in the world. I am very happy for me that I am honored ot have found your blog a while back and wish you safety and joy on Saturday October 15!

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like they want the freedoms of democracy but they want their religion involved at every level. Some contradictions here but I guess they have to start somewhere.
Thanks for the post and comments about this issue.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Congrats! The Dallas Morning News 10/15/2005 edition quoted the last paragraph of this post:

For me, I'll say (YES) for the constitution since it represents a milestone in the long journey to achieve better life to the coming Iraqi generations.

God bless Iraq

God Bless and Happy Trails!
WC in Texas

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reasons, I can no longer post comments as anonymous. I type the letters that are asked for, but it just gives me more letters and then more letters. I must be doing something wrong. Anyway, regarding your last post, I think that the constitution will do very nicely. There are parts which are questionable, but hopefully the new parliament will be able to put a better face on it in the next few years. Hopefully the newly elected group will be more diverse, perhaps the argument will be louder, but I think they will get it right. I don't like the quotas as part of the constitution, though. Perhaps it would be better if they were to be in place of only 10-15 year. After that, each individual should be able to get elected on their own merits, don't you think?

Good luck on election day. I hope it is a celebration.

Best regards, Jan

8:17 PM  
Blogger Ibn_Alrafidain said...


I'm sorry for activating verification word in the comments section. Spammers found their way to the blog. Jan's comment above is posted by me. I received it through Email.
WC in Texas,

Thanks for informing me about The Dallas Morning News 10/15/2005. I'll appreciate instructing me to the website where I can find the quoted paragraph.

Wishing you all best.

12:41 PM  

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