Saturday, January 17, 2004

Sharia, dreams, and nightmares.

When I first heard about the announcement 137, I felt extremely upset and worried.
My upset was further increased when I followed some of the reactions by western media and reading some comments on posts on various blogs including Iraqis such as “get the troops out of Iraq now”, “if the sheia want theocracy let them go to Iran”, “that’s why we opposed the war” or “we should’ve left SH there, it seems that those people can only be governed by dictators” and so on.
Honestly, I was furious when I started writing this post, I wanted to curse everyone; the GC, Islamic parties, religions, Iran, Iraqi bloggers …etc.
But that only lasted for a moment; this is not how I truly feel, and it is not the time to be angry as emotional judgments often miss the point.
I gathered my shattered thoughts together and tried to examine this as calm as I can and found that through all this mess there are some facts that can be concluded before reacting to this, who was behind it? Who objected? And to what degree extreme reactions were true and justified?
So here we come to some facts:
1-The announcement comes from an unauthorized council, and therefore Iraqi courts and Iraqi people are not committed to follow it.
2-according to Jalal Talbani; the announcement didn’t get the necessary majority (2/3 of the votes) therefore it’s illegal.
3-we don’t have a constitutional council yet, thus it’s out of question to put such issues into discussion.
4-the announcement is not signed by the CPA head, who has the veto, so it’s still just a proposition.
5-the public coverage was so scarce which gives rise to suspicions, was it made to please the Mullahs and gain their support, by trying to pass this agreement without public announcements fearing objections?
6-sharia is a relative term, which one the proposition was referring to: Sunni, Sheia, Wahabi? With their sub-divisions? Islamic Sharia in Iraq refers to classical Sunni and Sheia sharia, and not to the more radical Wahabi (Taliban or Saudi Arabia) nor Islamic brotherhood version (Hamas or Jihad).
7-the Sharia law has been practiced in Iraq for centuries (even when secular governments were in charge, as it didn’t interfere with politics), so this would better described as preservation of an already existing system rather than creation of a new one.
8-there was strong opposition against the proposition inside the GC and on the streets, and that was obvious as Iraqi women (not fearing the fanatics) held demonstrations against the proposition.
9-the people who agreed on this proposition said that it’s not supposed to replace the secular family law, and that it’s just an optional one for committed Muslims, while other Iraqis who do not want to submit to this one will still have the secular one.

Using these facts in an attempt to answer the above questions, one can come with some simple conclusions:
1-this is the wrong decision, made by the wrong people at the wrong time, resulting in wrong reactions.
2-this is either a real demand by the Islamic parties, or just a political bluff.
a-If it’s a real demand, then it’s either:
- Signaled by fear on the part of Islamic parties and groups that a secular government (which seems to be inevitable and almost everyone agrees with as it’s supported by the USA) would restrain the religious activities and their effect on the community, such as what happened in Turkey.
-Or it was made to get more political ground, taking advantage of what seems to be the support of the majority of Iraqis turning this advantage into solid achievements on the ground.
b-could it be a bluff? It seems that it makes sense, when one puts in mind that the USA would never allow a theocracy in Iraq, then such suggestion made by Islamic groups (probably supported by some neighboring countries, to damage the relation between Iraqis and Americans) would really embarrass the American administration, and the immediate response to the American veto will be “ see, didn’t we tell you that the Americans are here to fight Islam?”

Giving the facts and assumptions, how should we react to this?
-If it’s a real demand, then just forget it, because even if the CPA didn’t use the veto, I’m sure that the majority of Iraqis will not approve of it. And when elections will be held, and a constitution is written (if it holds to that time), this particular point will not achieve the desired majority. And I know what I’m talking about.
They look stronger and out numbering only on the streets and only in this unstable period, where emotions play a considerable role in men’s decisions. But if a free plebiscite made in stable conditions, it will be much different.
-If it’s a trap? Ok, let’s play it their way.
“Give us the type of Sharia you want, and we will give you our immediate approval. Write your Sharia down, and we will accept it”
These people; committed Sunni and Sheia, hate each other more than you imagine, they can only unite for a few weeks against what they consider a common enemy.
Let’s step aside and deprive them of this (common enemy) and you will see that their old quarrels will float to the surface, and they will never reach a consensus even after a hundred years, and each side will hurry back to the CPA to get support.

Such trivial events (yes, trivial, because, as dangerous as they seem to you, they’re not more than futile attempts, by a bunch of idiots trying to reverse history and combat the natural course of events) will not alter the eventual outcome of this struggle.
All is needed (which seems the CPA is doing) is to reassure average people about their religious freedom, provide them good jobs that keep them busy and education that open their eyes.
Our battle is not with them; it’s with those who act behind the curtains, using sensitive issues such as religious beliefs and traditions. The worse thing that we can do today is over reacting in our opposition and using offensive tone. The right tactic, in my opinion, lies in firm determined refusal conveyed through calm diplomatic maneuvering.

I was saddened by some Americans’ and westerners’ reaction to this silly event, I received some e-mails urging me to leave Iraq, and offering me help to find a new life and career in the US or Europe. I heard about similar invitations to other Iraqi bloggers.
Grateful as I am to these generous gestures, I cannot but wonder, whether you were supporting Iraqi freedom or Iraqi bloggers. If you feel the whole thing was a mistake, and Iraqis didn’t/don’t deserve all the trouble and the sacrifices made, then I don’t blame you. That’s certainly how it looks on TV, newspapers and most web sites.

We (Iraqi bloggers) are just phenomena that will soon fade away.
Iraqi freedom is a noble task that will benefit not only the 25 million Iraqis, but also the whole world. And no one said it was going to be easy.
I will not migrate to your heaven and leave people, who desperately need help, to the flames.
I will stay here with all those who believe in this just cause, and fight until the dream come true.
Then and only then, I will come to visit your land, as a friend, grateful for the support you’ve given so far, and will invite you (10 or 20 years from now) to come and see what you’ve bravely and generously participated in creating (a free prosperous and democratic Iraq). Silly as it may seem, I still believe in this dream.

By Ali.

No comments: