Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Democracy and faith

Norm's An incipient democracy says 'Two pieces today reflect the democratic process at work in Iraq over the new constitution. One is by Amir Taheri...'   Amir Taheri puts out some fairly dodgy opinions - as here :
The kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] finds itself the odd man out between the cautiously reforming countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Persian Gulf mini-states on the one hand, and the traditional despotic regimes such as Libya, Sudan, Syria and Iran on the other.
Is Egypt, say, progressing more closely to democracy than Iran? This, though, is good:
faith is about certainty while democracy is about doubt.
Worth reading is the Carnegie report, Iraq’s Constitutional Process Plunges Ahead by Nathan J. Brown. It is possible to pick out all the negative points, as was done wherever I got the link from (Eric Martin, I think). The report however is more nuanced.   In the light of the criticism of  'the rushed process',  the committee drafting the constitution is surely right now to give itself another week.  A couple more points:
There are some signs that the advocates of a more Islamic legal system have focused elsewhere on the text as well, working to insert provisions that would force some rights to work within the bounds of Islamic law and hint (although probably not require) return to the pre-1959 system for personal status law (governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance). Under that system, members of different communities followed their own law and courts; since 1959 there has been a single set of courts that have operated in accordance with parliamentary legislation. In addition, initial indications are that the TAL’s relatively robust provisions for religious freedom will be adopted with little modification.
To be fair, there is much in the constitutional process that could have gone badly wrong but has not. This is particularly the case with the Shiite population—the Sadrist movement has not attempted to disrupt constitution drafting, nor has Shiite leadership precipitated a crisis by attempting to modify the ratification process to its advantage (as it had earlier hinted that it might do). After many delays, a considerable number of Sunnis have been brought into the committee. In these ways, the constitutional process has not itself become a deep problem. But neither has it become the solution to Iraq’s problems.


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