The draft of the Iraqi Constitution
(from the Associated Press) has a little something for everyone. For those fearful of an Islamic republic rivaling Iran’s mullahcracy, this constitution overtly embraces Islam as the state religion. For those who prefer libertarian freedoms, especially in a place making a fresh start, this constitution is bound to be a disappointment with state control and entitlements most liberals in America would adopt. For civil libertarians, there are sections that a despot could use to tyrannize a country without abrogation of any of the words.
But for those of us who saw Iraq as a danger to the United States and a human rights disaster to Iraqis under Saddam, are optimistic about Iraq’s future and realistic about what can be accomplished, the document has much to be very excited about. The document does something too many Americans cannot do-face the fact of terrorism and denounce it emphatically. These people have been trying to adjust to normal lives. It is the terrorists that stand in their way.
The constitution mixes clear religious goals with secular aspirations in order to “write down this permanent constitution from the high values and ideals of the heavenly messages and the developments of science and human civilization, and to adhere to this constitution”.
The Preamble makes an emotional start by refreshing everyone’s memory about the spiritual and intellectual background of Mesopotamia as well as the horrific life under Saddam’s rule (get that Michael Moore). Without mentioning Saddam or the United States by name, we note the common suffering by all Iraqis:
“[R]ecalling the agonies of the national oppression in the massacres of Halabja, Barzan, Anfal and against the Faili Kurds; inspired by the tragedies of the Turkomen in Bashir and the suffering of the people of the western region, whom the terrorists and their allies sought to take hostage and prevent from participating in the elections and the establishment of a society of peace and brotherhood and cooperation so we can create a new Iraq, Iraq of the future, without sectarianism, racial strife, regionalism, discrimination or isolation.”
Yes, this is an Islamic country. Article I is clear on this:
“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.”
However, beyond the rhetoric the document seeks to ensure liberties per Article II-Rights and Freedoms. Iraqis will enjoy “equal opportunity”, “right to life and security and freedom” and most importantly:
“Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief, opinion or social or economic status.”
Courts will be open and the laws will dictate people’s rights and punishments. Torture is eliminated officially as a sanctioned method of interrogation and imprisonment. There is freedom to practice any religion.
Social conservatives will love the following:
“The family is the foundation of society and the state should preserve its (the family's) existence and ethical and religious value.”
There is too much socialism institutionalized in this constitution. Besides the national sharing of wealth from oil, which I understand will allow a sense of common interest and needed income among all Iraqis, there are the following comments that do not square with a free market:
“An Iraqi has the right to ownership anywhere in Iraq and no one else has the right to own real estate except what is exempted by law”.
“Low-income people should be exempted from taxes in a way that guarantees maintaining the minimum level necessary for a living
“The state guarantees social and health insurance
… and works to protect them from illiteracy, fear and poverty and provides them with housing and the means to rehabilitate and take care of them.”
“The state guarantees protection and preservation of the environment and biological diversity.”
When the U.S. emerged from our Civil War bloodbath, the Radical Republican’s did not show any of this empathy towards their political enemies. Here, the slaves are the drafters of the constitution. While the Baathist Party is no more (“Entities or trends that advocate, instigate, justify or propagate racism, terrorism, ``takfir'' (declaring someone an infidel), sectarian cleansing, are banned, especially the Saddamist Baath Party 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.”), who can blame them for outlawing the organization that enslaved, robbed, starved and tortured the country for 30 years?
There is something for everyone to love and hate regardless of your political persuasion. I recognize this is a draft and a translation. We must all realize where these brave people have been for the past 30 years. That people rising from Saddam’s torture chamber provides such magnanimous liberties to all, including the formerly-favored Sunnis, is a testament to democracy’s blessings.