Islam, Democracy and Iraq’s Constitution

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 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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • reliapundit says:

    what are the odds that the MSM will play it this way!? zero.

  • justpete says:

    What hope is there when the constitution uses a now meaningless phrase like “terrorism.” Thanks to Bush and his idolators and their holy Jihad for a New World Order, terrorism is nothing more than anyone who opposes Dear Leader or the NWO.
    It is laughably stuipid and meaningless to refer to a “war on terrorism” when it is merely a technique of combat and one that is embraced by the US and its military.
    A constitution will do almost nothing in Iraq. The one in America is dead. Take any part of it and you will see it completely ignored. Hell, just look at what it means to soldiers now. They take an oath to support it and couldn’t care less.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    The Constitution is an important step in Iraq’s future and hopefully the sides can come together soon and make it a reality. Clearly a different regime than the current one in Tehran or the past one in Baghdad will be at the healm, and they will be tasked with great responsibility in nursing this nation back to health. There is a feeling among some counterterrorism officials that are more concerned over Afghanistan than Iraq, believing the tribal, warlord like mentality in Afghanistan will present bigger challenges over the long run than Iraq.
    Ultimately critics of the policy errect this doube edged sword where they can criticize the administration regardless of what they do. If we tell Iraq what to do then we are suddenly imposing our will and bullying. If we stand back and let them sort it out, we are allowing the formation of another Tehran.
    It’s been the standard operating procedure for critics of the war since day one. Why did we attack Iraq and not Iran? Why didn’t we deploy more troops while simultaneously arguing the occupation is the problem. It goes on and on.

  • T. Longren says:

    Clarity and Resolve


  • Justin B says:


    Yep. 9-11 was a justified war against Bush for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. That was justified combat tactics, not terrorism.

    Wait, if Bush and the NWO was the cause of terrorism, how exactly did he cause the PLO to kill the Isreali Olympians in 1972? Or all the airline hijackings in the 70’s and 80’s?

    Perhaps you should stop smoking pot, attending the anti-war rallies, and listening to Michael Moore and try reading a history book. There is a concept called reality and a concept called a timeline. Short of Bush having a time machine that needs 1.21 jigawatts and 88 miles per hour to go back and change the past, terrorism existed long before Bush was in office. And I know you want to blame America for causing it, but just a hint, there are bad people that do bad things for reasons other than because America is an evil imperialistic corporate whore hell bent on world domination and run by Chimpy McHitlerBurton.

    If we just ignore it, the terrorists will leave us alone. Sorry, they didn’t leave us alone in 1972. They have not left the Jews alone since the late 1940’s. It is not a military tactic. We are using military tactics to prevent future attacks, but next you will tell me that Tim McVeigh was justified in using his military tactics against our evil government.

  • wooga says:

    Justin B,
    You overlook the possibility that it is Osama, not Bush, who is doing the time travelling. All terrorist acts within the past 60 years are perpetrated by Osama in his CIA funded and Israeli researched Delorean time machine. And because Osama is reacting to the Iraq occupation, it is all Bushitler’s fault! [/tinfoil]

  • Iraq’s Draft Constitution

    Let me get this straight. American men and women died for “freedom” in Iraq so the country could be ruled under Islamic law? What is “free” about that? Let’s take a look at Article Two:
    The political system is republican…

  • tyler says:

    Wooga, it’s not the pot, it’s the sheer ignorance.

  • How Do You Enforce That?

    One thing mentioned there however actually troubles me, and I’ve talked about it before. In fact, I talked about it more than a year ago regarding the interim constitution. It’s the requirement that 25% of the legislature be women. Don’t get me wrong…

  • More Optimism

    Along with Bush’s optimism, I read this blogger noting that this is being overblown. Man, I hope so….

  • JorgXMcKie says:

    Well, if we called it by its real name, The War on Islamo-fascism, justpete would really get his shorts in a bunch. And it wouldn’t really matter if we knew the identity of every member of al-Qaida or whoever and called it the War on (List of names of al-Qaida members), he still wouldn’t like it.
    He’s probably just a chicken-jihadi, anyway. If he had any rocks, he’d go join the MinuteMen of Iraq.

  • Islam In The Iraqi Constitution

    The role of Islam in the new Iraqi Constitution has been the source of much hand-wringing by bloggers–myself included. But Bill Roggio over at Fourth Rail thinks a little chillin’ is in order, at least for now. Bill says that,…

  • Iraq and the Reframing of the Global War on Terror

    Civilization is a thin veneer that separates us from the hardships of raw survival. While Western civilization has provided us with the opportunity to enjoy the more heady pursuits, our love affair with our own minds often precludes us from taking con…

  • Kartik says:

    Yawn… another low-intelligence leftie coming here to spew dogma and run away. I predict you will flee this board by the end of day today, defeated and humiliated in simple debate, as most girlie-man leftists do.
    Answer the following questions :
    1) How would you prevent the next 9/11?
    2) If you claim that the absence of WMDs is the main reason you oppose the Iraq war? Does that mean you would have supported it if WMDs were actually found?
    Also, Iran and North Korea have WMDs, and are openly saying that they want to use them. By your logic, invading Iran and North Korea is justificable, right?
    Answer these two simple questions.

  • AMac says:

    At “Informed Comment,” Juan Cole offers his dyspeptic take on what the draft says about Islam:

    Article 2, Para. 1: Islam is the official religion of state, and is a fundamental source for legislation. [J.C. Note: It is not THE source of legislation, though being A FUNDAMENTAL one may amount to much the same thing.]

    a) No law may be legislated that contravenes the essential verities of Islamic law. [J.C. Note: The TAL and earlier drafts said that law may not contravene the verities of Islam. By specifying ISLAMIC LAW– ahkam al-Islam– this text enshrines the shariah or Islamic canon law quite explicitly in the constitution and would allow religious jurists to question secular legislation.]

    Prof. Cole stands fairly close to Krugman when it comes to standards of honest and full disclosure, so this has to be read with a certain degree of skepticism. But apparently he speaks and reads Arabic, and stopped clock is right twice a day.

  • Iowa Voice says:

    Iraq And Their Constitution

    Go to any newspaper website, or pick one up that is in print, turn on the news programs, or go to any liberal blog and you’re bound to hear about how Iraq has somehow “blown” the consitution question. Basically because the assembly didn’t vote on it but,

  • peggy says:

    While I grant you that there are encouraging signs in the document that would seem to balance the role that islam will play in the future Iraq, I still think that too much wiggle room is given to it to establish for instance, a law banning conversion from islam which we find in most predominantly muslim nations. The text concerning religious freedom mentions choice but on the other hand it is counter to islamic law to say that muslims have a choice to switch their religion. Without the freedom to change religion, true religious freedom is not possible.
    The other point of concern is the text that says that the identity of the Iraqi people is and will remain islamic. What are the Christians then? Are they counted as naturally muslims as it is the practice of islam to consider all people natural muslims regardless of their “cultural” religious identity? Or are they not Iraqis because of their religious identity conflicts with the official national identity? Either way is an insult to the Christian citizens of Iraq. Unfortunately, they are quite powerless to affect any change in the language which is a pity.
    If I had any say, I would eliminate that language. I dont feel that the concessions elsewhere are enough to compensate for that glaring oversight. And I dont think they will be sufficient to protect all iraqis from some very common abuses found in islamic law. For instance, while its great that women will get 25 percent of the seats, will that really be enough to protect their rights as they know them now? How many of these women will be conservative muslims?
    Just can’t put the fears to rest, I’m afraid.

  • Foolish Mortal says:

    So the legislature, in a couple of years, tries to pass a law saying that men may not beat women who try to leave them. And when the courts say that such a law is unconstitutional because “No law may contradict Islamic standards,” what are you going to say?
    “[4.34] Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.”
    I support the war and Bush’s attempts at establishing freedom in Iraq, but if this constitution is the end result, the project will have failed. What a fiasco.

  • Bob says:

    The Bill of Rights to our Constitution was not ratified until 1791, more than four years after the original Constitution was drafted and two years after it took effect. Of course there is no guarantee that Iraq will produce a similar addendum to its constitution. But we can certainly look to our own history as a hopeful sign that continued progress is possible.

  • This is terrible. Dead on arrival. A fakeout. “No law may contradict Islamic standards” trumps all that other new-fangled modern stuff. So how are these women who will constitute one-quarter of the assembly to get there? They can’t drive to work – Islamic standards, remember? Their husbands will have to give them permission to run for election, and if elected, permission to leave the house. Islamic standards. And that’s the easy stuff. The hard stuff will be impossible. Think a publisher can publish “Satanic Verses” there, just because there’s a line about “freedom of the press”? There’s also a line about Islamic standards. Which do you really think will trump which?

    That “one-quarter of the seats to women” thing also misses the point of a democracy. If one-eighth of the seats have women elected to them, then women should only get one eighth of the seats. If half have women elected to them, then women should occupy half the seats. A quota means that the votes don’t really determine who gets elected. Not good. Can’t blame this one on Islam, though – it’s more like identity politics. So do the Christian Assyrians get a guaranteed number of seats? Gay Arabs? Resident foreigners? Iranian agents? Soon there won’t be any room for “at large” members. Quota systems are no way to run a successful democracy.

    Comparisons to the Christian underpinnings of much of American law are frivolous. The point is that the Bible is not enshrined in the Constitution of the United States as the source of law – or even as “a” source of law. Also, noting that the US constitution took several tries to get right ignores the fact that the US Constitution had to break entirely new ground. The previous democracies and republics dated from the classical period, and all came to bad ends, collapsing into dictatorships of one sort or another. The Founders knew this perfectly well – recall that the first volume of Gibbon was published in 1776. The Founders ran a serious risk, in adopting a form of government which had always failed previously. That is not true today. There are a great number of workable constitutions today which the Iraqis can use for models. The fact that they seem to have failed to follow a good model is a bad sign from any angle.

    I’m not a gloom-and-doom monger. I was behind the Iraq invasion 110%. I thought it was the finest thing any government had done for the advance of civilization in the last half century. And in keeping with that, I am not willing to play Pollyanna when an obvious disaster looms. Those making the quoted statement “did we sacrifice our soldiers to establish an Islamist state?”

  • BoghRD says:

    My problem with the ‘Constitution’ is that it is not a Constitution…
    It seems more of a statement in the Congressional Record…
    Constitutions should age gracefully. They should not deal with things like oil contracts, percentages of women in office, and such. They should be grand, overarching ideals. They should structure the government. I do not see much of this in this document…
    And, this is what takes months to produce. Small minds and/or small culture…

  • Dean's World says:

    Whither the Gloom and Doom Squad’s Condemnation of Afghanistan?

    One of the more predictable bits of hyperventilating coming out of the gloom-and-doom crowd is that Iraq’s new Constitution will supposedly establish an “Islamist state in the orbit of Iran.” The reason? The new proposed Constitu…

  • ricksamerican says:

    The provisions of the Constitution (Bill provides the link to Newsday) are very far from Sharia:
    Article 151
    No less than 25 percent of Council of Deputies seats go to women.
    Let’s see that one fly in Iran.
    The fact that “Islam is a main source for legislation” and not “the source” speaks volumes in itself. Sharia is Sharia is Sharia–and there is no other source.
    Unfortunately, very little has been clearly explained to the American people about the nature of Islam in the world today. For Iraq to identify itself as part of Islam:
    Article 2
    2. This constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the Iraqi people and guarantees all religious rights; all persons are free within their ideology and the practice of their ideological practices.
    3. Iraq is part of the Islamic world
    Without instituting rule by an Islamic council and adopting Sharia as the sole source of law should confuse people who have come to think that Wahhabi or Salafi Islam is the only operative form of Islam. Islam today is very like Judaism in its various manifestations from Orthodox to Conservative to Reform. Orthodox Jews believe in strictly following Torah and dietary laws and laws regulating relations between the sexes that Reform Jews think are anachronistic, but don’t tell the Reform Jews that they aren’t Jews just because they don’t follow the letter of the 613 mitzvahs or commandments that the Orthodox try to live by. So just because the Iraqis say that they assert their Islamic identify doesn’t mean they are going to beat their recalcitrant wives. In fact, the consitution sets up a tension between Islam and human rights that seems to me to make the Sharia issue moot.
    Article 35
    * a. Human freedom and dignity are guaranteed. . .
    * c. All kinds of physical and psychological torture and inhumane treatment are prohibited
    That the Iraqis should be adamant about their Islamic identity and at the same time reject the Iranian or Salafi model should make it clear that strict literal adherence to every word of Koran and Hadiths is not what they have in mind. That is why they are rejecting and resisting the jihadis who would establish that kind of rule in the first place.
    Let’s give the Iraqis some credit for the very hard work they are doing to find a way to live with one another in peace, under a freely elected and democratic government. If they wanted to live under Sharia [and polling data from Iraq show that this is a very unpopular option], they could have it tomorrow. Make that today–just by collaborating with the jihad. In fact, they choose to die rather than to live under such a system. They are signing up for the police and the army by the hundreds. They are willing to live with suicide bombings rather than submit to tyranny again. God bless them. They are being heroic, and I find it amazing that so few people especially on the left are willng to give them any credit for the awe-inspiring sacrifices they are making to be free.
    For pete’s sake [not justpete’s sake]let’s applaud what they are doing however imperfect. After all, we are still living under the Articles of Confederation aren’t we?

  • Kartik says:

    Actually, didn’t Afghanistan already create a constitution about a year ago?
    How is that one working out for them? How much does it depend on Islam vs. the proposed Iraqi constitution?
    Perhaps some happy medium is already functioning in Afghanistan.

  • BoghRD says:

    There is an assertion of pan-Arabism as well as an assertion of Islamic identity…
    I might be a bit mistaken, but what identity is so dramitically asserted in the US Constitution…
    Unlike our Founding Fathers, I think that their Founding Fathers are letting the people down…
    This is a small time document that will not stand the test of time. For military types, it is Desktop Procedures vice Standard Operating Procedures. It will not age or adapt well. Very little matters in the document…

  • BoghRD says:

    I stand corrected.
    I used a CNN summary – absolute garbage.
    Read the whole document as referenced in the Newsday article…
    Another example of media bias (and maybe stupidity)… Why did I trust them…
    “Part Two: Freedoms
    Article (35):
    1st — (a) The freedom and dignity of a person are protected.
    (b) No one may be detained or investigated unless by judicial decision.
    (c) All forms of torture, mental or physical, and inhuman treatment are forbidden. There is no recognition of any confession extracted by force or threats or torture, and the injured party may seek compensation for any physical or mental injury that is inflicted.
    2nd — The state is committed to protecting the individual from coercion in thought, religion or politics, and no one may be imprisoned on these bases.
    3rd — Forced labor, slavery and the commerce in slaves is forbidden, as is the trading in women or children or the sex trade.
    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.”

  • BoghRD says:

    Article (40):
    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.
    Article (41): Every individual has freedom of thought and conscience.

  • sisu says:

    “No law may contradict . . .”

    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, writes Bill Roggio [via InstaPundit] of The Fourth Rail. But to state an

  • peggy says:

    For anyone holding out the hope that an equivalent to the bill of rights will emerge in a few years, you will be sorely disappointed, I’m afraid.
    mohammed told the muslims back in the beginning that his religion had all the rights any human could possiblly need. Muslims stopped thinking about human rights back in 600 AD. Ask even a moderate muslim Iraqi and they will tell you that islam gives them all the rights they need. Ask any moderately religious muslim woman and she will say that any rights not given to her in islam is a right that she doesnt need. All muslims will say the same.
    That hope is dead on arrival.
    I see that someone here mentioned the text about freedom of the press being trumped by the place of islam in the law. I believe that he is right. Even in moderate muslim nations, no one is free by law to be critical of islam. Even those who dont believe in it can be charged with blasphemy and threated with imprisonment or death. In islam, it is assumed that everyone is actually a muslim even if they profess another faith. In islam, everyone regardless of faith must assume that it is just as true as their faith and/or behave as if they believed it. There never is any freedom to truly question it. The iraqis and particularly the Christians there will likely never know true freedom of speech. That can only truly be had by muslim iraqis who wouldnt think to question their faith.
    There is no win-win in any situation involving islam. Its a case of muslims get everything and then everyone else gets the scraps the majority deigns to give them and they better smile in gratitude too or else.

  • peggy says:

    I dont think anyone here is saying that something like what we have in SA or in Iran is about to happen in Iraq. Noone here to my knowledge has said that the iraqis are about to institute sharia lock stock and barrel.
    But when they refer to islamic law, Sharia is exactly what they mean. That is what islamic law is called. One doesnt have to enact the whole thing zealously or to impose ones idea of what that law is in order to fall far short of true freedom and liberty.
    The problems with islamic laws of which we speak are common to even moderate muslim countries. No moderate muslim nation allows for full and free exercise of religious conscience for muslims. We read the words “exercise of conscience” and see freedom for muslims to change their religion, but muslims would not read it that way. It is assumed that no muslim would want to change their faith and the words are meant for non-muslims only ie the government will not oppress minority religions in any form. It is a given that muslims will be barred from converting to other faiths as this is against islamic values across the board. It is a basic value found across the islamic spectrum. It is only absent from official law in constitutionally secular countries and even then converts face “justice” from vigilantes. It is part and parcel of islam.
    If even the few things happen that we have predicted, then this constitution will be a failure in terms of true liberty.

  • peggy says:

    Here’s a hypothetical court case and the most likely outcome.
    Ali converts to Christianity and is persecuted either by his community or he is prosecuted under a law prohibiting muslims to change their religion. You also might imagine that the person who converts him is also brought up on charges as it is illegal even in moderate muslim countries to spread any other faith among muslims. Ali takes his case to court citing the constitutional provision gauranteeing freedom of conscience. Then the judge rules that it is against islamic values for a muslim to change religions and that therefore the text is not applicable to Ali’s case. He rules that the text was only meant to protect religious minorities from all forms of persecution and does extend to giving muslims rights not given them by islam.
    You wait and see if I’m not right about this.

  • peggy says:

    preview is my friend.
    The following sentence has been edited to correctly reflect my intent
    “He rules that the text was only meant to protect religious minorities from all forms of persecution and does NOT extend to giving muslims rights not given them by islam.”

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Who had hope that Iraq would “overnight” turn into a 2005 Western Liberal Democracy? Only a complete lunatic would hope for anything beyond 1950’s America. Switzerland didn’t allow woman to vote until 1971. Canada didn’t allow woman unrestricted right to run for public office until 1960.
    As long as the universal right to vote exists, and free and fair elections occur on a regular basis, the peoples rights will follow.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Oh yes, let us not forget that Woman could not vote until 1920.

  • Josh says:

    Clearly, we have failed to install an ideal western style democracy in Iraq. But the question is not whether we have reached an ideal. The question is whether we can live with the result. And frankly, it was unreasonable to expect Iraq to produce a a James Madison (though kudos to Iraq the Model for being the Thomas Paine of Iraq). The culture just wouldn’t support total freedom of religion.
    But basically, in the end it comes down to another basic question- the security question. Does the new government enhance the security situation of the United States? Jury is still out, but I believe it does. We have changed the balance of power in the middle east in a powerful way.

  • Kartik says:

    I still have the same question :
    Didn’t Afghanistan already create a constitution about a year ago?
    How is that one working out for them? How much does it depend on Islam vs. the proposed Iraqi constitution?
    Perhaps some happy medium is already functioning in Afghanistan. What pros and cons can be observed in Afghanistan currently?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I linked to a post to Robert Mayer, who looks at Afghanistan’s constitution. It is at the end of this post.

  • Enigma says:

    It’s unrealistic to expect Iraq to become a model liberal democracy in just a couple of years after Saddam. The Iraqi people are going to choose their own destiny. We ultimately have to let them chart their own course. Hopefully, we can influence them towards greater liberty for all, not less.
    Invading Iraq was a risk. We took the chance that what emerged in the aftermath of Saddam would be worse. Contrary to what many on the Left want to believe, we are much better off without Saddam. American security has been enhanced by replacing Saddam with a democratically elected government that is committed to fighting Islamist terrorism.
    The Iraqi people are also much better off without Saddam. Even a turn to a Saudi-style monarchy would leave the Iraq people in a much better situation than a return to the days of Saddam. I think the big question here is how much better off will the Iraqi people eventually be. Only time will tell…

  • ricksamerican says:

    Excellent points SD,Josh.
    Peggy–You say: “I dont think anyone here is saying that something like what we have in SA or in Iran is about to happen in Iraq”–but that is exactly what the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth is about–the idea that after all we have done and sacrificed–that after all that, the Iraqis in this Constitution propose to establish an Islamist State or Islamic Republic like Iran. That is what we are disagreeing with here (or at least I am), and I don’t think your points, all excellent, are inconsistent with what we are saying, or inconsistent with realistic xpectations for an Iraqi democracy.
    By naming Islam as only one source of law, however, the Iraqis are specifically NOT adopting Islamic law per se. The term “Islamic law” does not occur in the Constitution. It is a very different thing to say that laws passed by the legistlature should not violate the “standards” of Islam. I don’t know the arabic word translated as “standards” or what its connotations are, but in English that would be a very general, umbrella-type term, not code for Sharia. As you say there are many possible degrees to which Islamic, i.e. Sharia-based, law may be brought to bear, but by ennumerating rights in the Constitution, the Iraqis are explicitly giving the Constitution a standing in its own right–vis a vis Sharia. I.e. by necessary implication, the Constitution says there are rights posited for Iraqis that have a source other than Islamic law, and that laws may be passed that do not derive directly from Sharia. Sharia would never provide an opportunity for women to sit in Parliament–that would be an absurdity.
    If the court case you posit is realistic, then I say that is represents a triumph over Sharia-based law. Ali, in your example–is not be subjected to the punishment for apostasy laid out by Mohammed–or does he die forthwith even in modern Iraq? Surely Zarqawi or Omar would take his head with a single stroke, and that is what Iraq to it s credit,IMO, is distinctly not choosing.

  • michael ledeen says:

    Iraqi draft is much better than the Afghan Constitution, which proclaims the place “an islamic republic.”
    here’s what i posted on The Corner earlier today:
    IRAQ [Michael Ledeen]
    I’ve been reading the Italian press on the Iraqi constitution, and some of the smarter commentators point out some things I think we’ve missed. First, there is hardly a country in the region without some language acknowledging Sharia as either “the” or “a major” basis for national legislation. But Iran, for example, says that Allah is the sole source of authority, while the Iraqi constitution says that the people are the only legitimate source of authority. This in itself is a revolutionary event. Big celebrations were under way among Kurds and Shi’ites, when the 3-day holiday was announced. These celebrations included lots of women, happy with the Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religious choice, freedom for minorities, etc. The new constitution makes Iraq a Federal Republic, NOT an “Arab Republic,” which is again revolutionary. And the federal nature of the new republic is revolutionary for the whole region. My favorite newspaper, il Foglio, comments: “All the neighboring countries (Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia) and also more distant ones (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria) have trouble facing the spread of a democratic Iraq, of a Constitution born from true multiparty elections, and now a new innovation has been added: the…decentralization of power.”
    So, while I’m still waiting for the final text, I’m feeling a lot better. I think Constitutions matter a lot. In the modern world where judges and lawyers rule, the written law is enormously important.

  • Maybe the Iraqis ARE getting it, after all…?

    From Rich Lowry, the Corner:A cooler head following the process closely sends along these points about the Iraqi constitution, at least as of Sunday evening (it’s obviously a moving target): -- The Afghanistan Constitution contains str…

  • peggy says:

    Please dont get me wrong. I believe the Iraqis are much better off with this current draft of the constitution than they were under Saddaam or anywhere else in the Arab world. I dont see it as a total failure but I fear that it falls too short of the ideal. While it is true that we can’t realisticlly expect the ideal of them, I fear that nonetheless every right not established now will not just fall into place later. Call me a pessimist, but islam will be a dead weight on any aspirations to true liberty and in any case where it is islamic “standards” (*) vs new fangled western liberties then western liberties will lose and we will more likely see a deterioration of rights over the coming years.
    *I do believe that the word “standards” is code for at least minimal use of religious law as it is not possible to separate religious standards from religious law. Community standards in that country originate from islamic laws. There are hundreds of ways to offend the community which are wholly incompatible with the exercise of true liberty. The standards are a lesser obstacle than full Sharia but an great obstacle nonetheless.

  • Don Cox says:

    England in 1960 had a head of state who was also the official head of the state religion. Bishops sat by right in the upper chamber of Parliament. The common law was based on Christian principles. Gay sex was an offence punishable by imprisonment.
    Yet most people thought they lived in a free country. If we get an Iraq that is like England in 1960, I think that will be fine. Then the Iraqis can decide where they want to go.

  • Is Bush Founding an Islamic State in Iraq?

    It their ongoing effort to provide cover for Bush, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, the Right is now excusing that Iraq is forming an Islamic State. See The Fourth Rail: Islam, Democracy and Iraq’s Constitution:One of the most controversial items from…


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram