When we looked at the rallies that took place last week supporting immediate and direct elections, we felt annoyed and depressed and some of us even got panicked, fearing that in the future, Iraq will be a theocracy, and I was not an exception, although I saw it was less dangerous than the majority thought it was.
After (meditating) through this- which was caused by a remark from one of the readers, comparing those rallies with the one that went on the 10th of Dec. favoring the latter (and he is absolutely right)- I felt that we may have overlooked the great progress that affected the minds and feelings of Iraqis.
If we go back in time to the days before the anti-terror rally, we will remember that we were all thrilled with that event and we couldn’t believe before that time that such great number of Iraqi people will have the courage to demonstrate against terrorism and in such an organized fashion. I still remember, and it wasn’t long ago, how I was trying to explain to some of the readers why the Ba’athists and terrorists still control the streets in large areas in the middle of Iraq and many sectors in Baghdad and why it was hard for many people, who knew about those, to report them to the coalition or the IP. That demo. Simple as it was, in the eyes of many who didn’t even care to mention it, was the beginning of the end of fear that controlled the minds of Iraqis from Saddam’s loyalists and Ba’athists.
The last rally, and despite all the criticism, fears and worries was GREAT! Yes it was a very unpleasant scene for many people (me included); a rally that was formed of almost only She’at men, supporting a cleric, declaring their loyalty to him before loyalty to Iraq (an Iranian cleric) and supporting a totally silly and wrong suggestion? So many bad points, how can it be considered a progress?
This demo. Was the 1st time tens of thousands of Iraqis went down into the streets, not demanding jobs, not condemning (occupation) and not asking revenge from the Baathists, but solely showing their demands regarding the nature of the political system in Iraq. The point is –and some took it for granted- that Iraqis no longer fear or even think of Ba’athists, terrorists or dictatorship, it has obviously become out of the question now. Abig step was made although unbalanced, but isn't that the case with every 1st try to act and think independently.
I’m aware that there are many objections to such optimism (and valid ones), as the terrorists have and will continue their horrible attacks on both Iraqis and the coalition, but this fact no longer paralyzes the minds of Iraqis and prevent them from looking forward and expressing their visions for the future.
This wasn’t a vision shared by the vast majority of Iraqis, but this only makes it better, and it was a wrong idea made with shortsighted reflex towards the opinion of a cleric rather than a clear, mature political vision for Iraqi future, but hey! We are talking about people whom their opinion was arrested for 5 decades with all their disasters and horror and they have been free for only 9 months.
The other fact is that this demo. Large as it was and despite the poor organizing was totally peaceful. Some people may say that it looked scary, and I agree, but that’s just what it is, it looks scary, but it's not. Believe me when I say that I live among these people and confront them daily with my opinions, and although some of them think I’m an infidel and despite their strong religious feelings, they are far from being violent or dangerous.
We have made huge steps since the liberation, that took us from the state of despair to, hope that was mixed with fear then to the state of challenge to those who want us to remain slaves for their terrorism, from the bloody struggle against Baathists to the peaceful political struggle with religious powers who control the hearts of a relatively large proportion of Iraqis.
Yes, they are retarded and fascists, but till now they haven’t shown any significant use of violence or even threatened to use it. There were some sporadic cases that were soon stopped by the coalition and the IP, and to be honest, there was not any strong evidence of these cases having any link to the (legitimate) religious representatives of She’at Iraqis. There was never a call for violence made by those clerics, and I’m not defending them, as there is nothing I could like less than having a theocracy in Iraq, but these are the facts.
As long as these powers use peaceful means in showing their political demands and as long they are not calling frankly for a theocracy, then we will confront them with peaceful political efforts, calling for freedom, democracy and showing the terrible consequences of categorizing people according to their religions or ethnicity. Some people think that this is not happening, but just for an example, 4 days ago 6 small democratic parties united to form a single party called the 'coalition of Iraqi democrats' and announced that they were ready to merge with other democratic and liberal powers as long as they believe in democracy as the only option for Iraq. I took a close look at those parties and, of course they were not what I had in mind, but I consider it a promising start.
We should be grateful for the people who marched in that rally as they announced the end of fear, showed the power of people(people who are mislead, but still powerful and good enough to prevent any comeback of dictatorship even in the abscence of help from outside) and signaled the beginning of a peaceful and fruitful political struggle. And we, the people who believe in democracy and secularism should unite our efforts to enter this battle with a power that at least makes a sort of a balance that ensures Iraq a steady progress towards a better future.