Two Thumbs Down


Views on Islam's proper role reflect how one understands the purpose of the war in Iraq one year ago:

• Islamic law should be prohibited: The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was called Operation Iraqi Freedom for a reason: the American-led occupation forces must not become midwife for an anti-democratic legal system that disallows freedom of religion, executes adulterers, oppresses women, and discriminates against non-Muslims. Acquiescing to the Sharia discourages moderates while encouraging the Wahhabi and Khomeinist extremists in Iraq. Also, because Sunnis and Shiites interpret Sharia differently, its implementation promises troubles ahead.

• Islamic law should be permitted: Coalition forces entered Iraq primarily to protect their countries from a threatening regime, not to achieve Iraqi freedom. Democracy and prosperity for Iraq is just a happy byproduct. The pursuit of coalition interests does not require that Iraq's penal, family, financial, and other laws conform to Western preferences. Further, for Washington to implement its ambitious goals in the Middle East, it must have good relations with powerful Shiite leaders like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who want the Sharia in place. And if a majority of Iraqis should opt for Sharia, democracy advocates can hardly deny them their wishes.

This has the makings of a deep argument over the purposes of invading Iraq, long-term coalition goals in Iraq, and whether the Sharia is or is not inherently reactionary, iniquitous, aggressive, and misogynist.

Unfortunately, the debate is already over, before it could begin: Iraqis have decided, with the blessing of coalition administrators, that Islamic law will rule in Iraq.

They reached this decision at about 4:20 a.m. on March 1, when the Iraqi Governing Council, in the presence of top coalition administrators, agreed on the wording of an interim constitution.

That's Daniel Pipes, calling Iraq's interim constitution a victory for militant Islam.

Meanwhile, Catholic Resources describes Bishop Shlimon Warduni as "gravely concerned" about Islam's pride of place in the new document:

According to a Provisional Governing Council spokesman, the constitution refers to Islam as "one source of legislation" but not the only one. But he pointed out that the document's wording is followed by a binding paragraph, according to which "no law will be passed if going against the teachings of Islam."

The spokesman said: "The language (of the draft) is structured in such a way so as not to offend the Islamic identity of the majority of the population, yet also so as to not offend others by giving them the impression that (Iraq) is an Islamic state."

Bishop Warduni said: "It is a dangerous precedent to set against other religious minorities and individual freedoms."

He added that that "everything will be labeled anti-Islamic—for example according to this paragraph no woman will be able to be elected president of the Republic nor could there be, according to law, any bars selling alcohol or liquor stores, and so forth."

The late Tim Cavanaugh wrote about the troubles of Iraqi Christians way back when.