Monday, August 15, 2005
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Despite numerous assurances from the President and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Iraq missed the August 15th deadline for their new constitution, giving themselves a week more to iron out a few tiny issues, such as power sharing and the role of Islam.
Iraqi women are in a near panic as the threat of a Sharia law based legal system hovers ominously over the constitutional protection once promised along with the pelting of U.S servicemembers with flowers upon the liberation of Baghdad.
The constitution's drafting committee, like Iraq's legislative assembly, is dominated by religious, ethnic and tribal figures. Committee members have been pushing for Islamic Sharia law to be the sole source of the constitution and there is strong resistance to the incorporation of any human rights standards that are seen as usurping Islamic legal supremacy.
By all accounts, the finished document is going to reflect the growing forced Islamisization of Iraqi life, as the poison of Islamic groups spreads into the mainstream. Supposedly moderate politicians are disastrously disinclined to challenge the increasingly powerful Islamist factions that now hold sway in almost every quarter of post-occupation Iraq. Whether Sunni or Shia; in the current government or in opposition; affiliated directly to al-Qa'ida or to the Jordanian fanatic Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, or are former Baathists who "freelance" as so-called "resistance fighters", what unites Iraq's armed Islamists is a fierce hatred of women that rivals their hatred for US and British "invaders", foreign "infidels" and other assorted enemies.
An era of post-occupation atrocities unfolded to disclose the final chapter of human rights abuse in Iraq: A constitution of legalizing women’s discrimination.
The constitution draft which was circulated secretly eliminated the minimal rights women had under the previous 1959 “Personal Status Law”. Although this law was partly based on Islamic Shariaa, it included much reform that secured minimal standards of human rights for women, such as preventing marriage for female children and making polygamy more difficult for men – a practice that is allowed under Shariaa in addition to beatings, stoning, flogging and forced veiling.
The draft constitution indicates in its article 14 the elimination of the current law and refers family laws completely to Islamic Shariaa and to other religions in Iraq. In other words, it leaves women vulnerable to all inequalities and social hostility in addition to designating females as second rate citizens or semi-humans.
Since the beginning of the occupation, the US administration has recognized Iraqis according to their ethnic/nationalist and religious identities. This predetermined polarization of the society around its most reactionary forces has resulted with a most lethal weapon which is a government of division and inequality - a potential timed bomb for a civil war that has already started. Furthermore, the only mutual agenda for the parties in power is one of oppression, bigotry and misogyny in addition to representing the US occupation interests.
Monday's vote to take another week to try to write a constitution for Iraq may actually be the most positive news to emerge so far from the frustrating and difficult process of drafting this vital document. That is a purely relative distinction. There is no cause for celebration in missing the original Aug. 15 target date. But by exercising its right to extend the deadline in the face of Washington's undisguised and unhelpful impatience, Iraq's parliament took the most responsible and constructive course available: to grant quarreling Sunni Arab, Shiite and Kurdish delegates another week to seek compromises that all can live with.
On Thursday, when Bush came out of his Crawford ranch with Rice -- it was odd, if refreshing, to see a secretary of state wearing lilac -- he once again justified the war in Iraq by talking about the treatment of women.
The way to defeat our enemies' "hateful ideology," he said, is to offer an ideology "that says to young girls, you can succeed in your society, and you should have a chance to do so." He also said, "Hopefully, the drafters of the constitution understand our strong belief that women ought to be treated equally in the Iraqi society."
Hopefully? Is that the best we can do for a country that we broke, own and are sacrificing young men and women every day to keep?
Americans like it when the president talks up women's rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, so he does it often. It helped him sell the invasions of those two countries. But W. should stop listening to "My Sharona" on his iPod and start listening to their Sharia.
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