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Monday, August 29, 2005

The Iraqi Constitution

It's good to see that the Iraqi constitution is heading for referendum. I think that all of the posturing by the Sunni leadership, the Sunni people will carry the day and at least one of the 4 Sunni majority areas will ratify the constitution.

Here are some key items of the Iraqi constitution which I think are important:

Article (2):

1st -- 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. (b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy. (c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.

2nd -- This constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and the full religious rights for all individuals and the freedom of creed and religious practices like (Christians, Yazidis, Sabaean Mandeans.)

Article (3): Iraq is a multiethnic, multi-religious and multi-sect country. It is part of the Islamic world and its Arab people are part of the Arab nation.

My reading - Islam is official religion of the state, but freedom of religion is guaranteed. Also, Islam can be a source of law and laws cannot be passed that contradict undisputed Islamic rules and democratic principles
1st -- Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages for Iraq. Iraqis are guaranteed the right to educate their children in their mother tongues, such as Turkomen or Assyrian (and Armenian), in government educational institutions, or any other language in private educational institutions, according to educational regulations.

People will be allowed to teach their heritage to their children. This is good news...
Article (7):

1st -- Entities or trends that advocate, instigate, justify or propagate racism, terrorism, "takfir" (Editors Note: takfir means to declare someone an infidel), sectarian cleansing, are banned, especially the Saddamist Baath in Iraq and its symbols, under any name. It will be not be allowed to be part of the multilateral political system in Iraq, which should be defined according to the law.
[...]
Article (9):

1st -- (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.
(b) Forming military militias outside the framework of the armed forces is banned. (c) The Iraqi armed forces and its personnel -- including military personnel working in the Defense Ministry and in any offices or organizations subordinate to it -- are not allowed to run as candidates in elections for political office. They should not engage in election campaigning for candidates and should not take part in activities forbidden by the regulations of the Defense Ministry. This ban includes the activities of the previously mentioned individuals acting in their personal or professional capacities, but does not include their right to vote in the elections.

This is all good news... no tolerance for terrorism, establishes a requirement that the military not become a tool for ethnic oppression, and forbids military personnel from entering the government. One of the major points of contention here was a ban on former Baath Party members being allowed to run for office or serve in the government. They removed the word "Party" and I suppose the argument (from the Sunni perspective which won on this one) is that someone could've been a member of the Baath Party, but not a Baathist.
Article (14): Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief, opinion or social or economic status.

Article (15): Every individual has the right to life and security and freedom, and cannot be deprived of these rights or have them restricted except in accordance to the law and based on a ruling by the appropriate judicial body.

Article (16): Equal opportunity is a right guaranteed to all Iraqis, and the state shall take the necessary steps to achieve this.

Article (17):

1st -- Each person has the right to personal privacy as long as it does not violate the rights of others or general morality.

2nd -- The sanctity of the home is protected. They cannot be entered or searched or violated except by judicial decision and in accordance with the law.
[...]
Article (20): 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.
[...]
Article (36): The state guarantees, as long as it does not violate public order and morality:

1st -- the freedom of expressing opinion by all means.

2nd -- the freedom of press, publishing, media and distribution.

3rd -- freedom of assembly and peaceful protest will be organized by law.

Article (37):

1st -- Freedom to establish and belong to political organizations and parties is guaranteed, and it will be organized by law.

2nd -- No person can be forced to join or remain a member of a political party or organization.

Article (38): The freedom of communications and exchanges by post, telegraph, telephone and by electronic and other means is guaranteed. They will not be monitored or spied upon or revealed except for legal and security necessity in accordance with the law.

Article (39): Iraqis are free in their adherence to their personal status according to their own religion, sect, belief and choice, and that will be organized by law.

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

All good items...

By Natan Sharansky's test, the Iraqi constitution passes the freedom test. Of course, regardless of what is printed on the page, the key test will be in implementation. However, read the whole document - this is an amazing document from a region which has zero history of democractic insitutions.

This is truly a great day in Iraqi history... but it is just a first step in the transformation of the country and the region.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler