The Corner

Read It and Don’T Weep

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 strong Islam-based provisions, including a blanket provision saying: ‘In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.’ But the Afghan constitution also contains strong human rights protections and is facilitating the emergence of a peaceful and vibrant democracy.

–The Iraq draft appears to be similar. In addition to the broad bill of rights, our translation of the Islam provision states that ‘no law shall be enacted that contradicts [Islam’s] established provisions, the principles of democracy, [or] the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in this constitution.’ This is actually a better formulation than Afghanistan’s model.

– The same provision also protects ‘all the religious rights of all individuals in the freedom of belief and religious practice’ – a provision consistent with international standards and identical to the widely praised Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), the interim constitution signed by the Iraq Interim Governing Council in 2004.

– In addition, Islam is declared to be ‘a’ – not ‘the’– source of legislation, a victory to secularists and roughly in line with the TAL formulation.

–Finally, we are confident that the final interpreters of the Iraqi constitution will be non-religious based courts and the elected legislature – not unelected clerics.

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