One of the most controversial items from a western standpoint is the role Islam will play in the laws of Iraq. The common cry [paraphrased] is “did we sacrifice our soldiers to establish an Islamist state?” Security Watchtower excerpts the text of the draft submitted to assembly (the full text can be viewed at Newsday.com). The text of the constitution gives sound reason to believe Iraq is not being established as an Islamist state. Article Two of the submitted draft explains the role of both Islam and democracy:
The political system is republican, parliamentary, democratic and federal.
1. Islam is a main source for legislation.
* a. No law may contradict Islamic standards.
* b. No law may contradict democratic standards.
* c. No law may contradict the essential rights and freedoms mentioned in this constitution.
Article Seven denounces terrorism and vows to fight it. Chapter Six, Article 151 grants the women one-quarter of the seats on the assembly. Article 36 grants “Freedom of expression by all means” and “Freedom of the press, printing, advertising and publishing.” Article 39 states “Iraqis are free to abide in their personal lives according to their religion, sects, beliefs or choice.” The rights of various ethnic groups are protected throughout the document. These are not the guarantees of an Islamist state such as that of the Taliban or Iran.
It is unreasonable to assume Islam will not play a role in influencing the society of Iraq, or any other predominately Muslim nation. Christianity played an influential role in the laws and society of western nations, and continues to do so today.
The real test of Iraq’s commitment to democratic principles under the influence of Islam will come with the implementation of the constitution by the next elected assembly. But to state an Islamist regime has been created based on the text of the constitution is unfounded. A simple reading of the document will reveal this.
Robert Mayer notes that Afghanistan’s constitution is similarly worded, and there was no hue and cry when it was ratified.