MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Those of us who thought that the USA is fighting for secular democracy in Iraq and religious freedom, may be in for a bit of a surprise. The draft Iraqi constitution, proposed by the American backed Coalistion Provisional Authority, contains a provision that is not at all unusual in Arab countries, but which is bound to raise some eyebrows in the West: establishment of Islam as the state religion of Iraq.
Article 4 of the proposed Iraqi constitution reads:
Of course, the USA should have understood that different folks have different ideas about the nature of democracy, and some of the ideas in the Middle East are VERY different. Many fundamentalist Muslims would probably agree that if the majority of the people want an Islamic Republic, then it is democratic to establish an Islamic Republic, just as many Jewish zealots in Israel think that if the majority of Israelis are religious Jews, (they aren't) we should have a state based on Halachic law.
Remarkably, this provision of the proposed Iraqi constitution has thus far escaped much comment. Similar proposals are made to declare Israel to be a Jewish state, or to assert the Christianity of Europe draw sharp criticism from rights advocates.
It is hard to say if people like Pat Robertson, who want to put God Back in the Public Schools, will be happy that the USA is putting God back in government somewhere in the world, or unhappy that it is the wrong God. Robertson believes that Muslims pray to "the moon-god Allah."
The USA cannot do very much to thwart the will of the Iraqi people, because that would not be very democratic, would it? That is an indication of one aspect of the problematic Web in which America has become entangled. Who would have believed that America would go to war against Islamist fundamentalism, and find itself sponsoring a made-in-USA establishment of the Muslim faith. Osama must be proud.
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Replies: 5 comments
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Posted by rick foster @ 02/13/2004 09:29 AM CST
I am a Buddhist. I donâ€™t think Islam is aggressive in its nature. You should not oppress too much your counterpart, or you may not oppress your counterpart anyway because he/she is your friend anyway. Anyone oppressed will do everything possible. If, just in case, Japan is invaded, I would do everything without thinking of myself.
Posted by Hiroshi Iida @ 02/13/2004 07:35 PM CST
Dear Hiroshi Lida,
While I do intend to pursue the question of fundamentalism and its misuse by racists in future posts, that was not the question at issue here at all.
Western-style democracies require separation of church and state. This principle was a cornerstone of the French republic and likewise of the United States. I believe the wording in the constitution is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Now the dilemma of the US is 3 pronged it seems:
2- In the current reality it is not possible to have a secular democracy in Iraq apparently.
3- Bush himself is supported by a number of fundamentalist Christians like Pat Robertson who aren't exactly happy about separation of Church and State in the USA. In fact, while you may not know it, though the provision was written into the US constitution and though the US never exactly had an established Church, it took many years to eliminate religious discrimination in legislation and religious practices from most aspects of American life. At one time you could be fined for washing your car on Sunday. The Supreme Court also ruled that it was unconstitutional to have prayers in public schools and to force children to pray to God. That began the long fight about "putting God back into the public school system." Presumably, God can put himself wherever He wants, without the help of the USA Supreme Court or Congress.
As for the problem of aggressiveness, the Islamic fundamentalists like those in Iran, claim that they are a most aggressive religion against any who are not of their faith. That is their claim, and you can read the speeches of Osama Bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini to see that what they think. Though some people exaggerate the case and say that all Muslims believe that way, that is not our position.
That is as good a summary as I can give here.
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Posted by Moderator @ 02/13/2004 11:04 PM CST
thank you for this site keep the good work up
Posted by allan massey @ 02/15/2004 12:05 AM CST
It consistently amazes me that we have misread the statement in the Constitution that says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." What does that mean? I think Ammi Isseroff is correct in implying that we don't want the US, or anyone else, to decide what others should believe. That is a freedom of ALL people. The US was established with the ideals of freedom of religion. Many of those who settled this land came from England, where, like so many other nations in history, the government held a heavy hand in the placement of religious leaders. If that is what the new Iraqi Constitution is doing, we are going against the very tennants of our own organization. But it is also important to see that most Americans don't even understand the "seperation of church and state". Our US forefathers (most of them- but clearly not all) were devout religious men. Their biographies and beliefs are simply amazing! Many of their own statements were given to explain that our government could not work without basic Christian ethics. But all too often, we read "seperation of church and state" and the wording of our Constitution to mean that we must not let religion get involved in our government. To the contrary - the wording was intended to mean that the government would not influence or control our religion, and not the other way around. The elimination of moral/church ethics and ideals are a must if we or anyone are to survive.
Posted by Stan Zurcher @ 02/16/2004 07:10 AM CST
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