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August 29, 2005

The Iraqi Draft Constitution

... is translated here.

I'm not done with it yet, but the early bits of it seem more of an expression of principles and desires than an actual blueprint for governance. I assume the "crunchy bits" come later.

I think this is interesting:

1st -- Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:

(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.

(b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy.

(c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.

Note that the document is vague in that (a) clause. Does (a) mean no law can contradict the rules of Islam, all of which which are undisputed, or does it mean -- hope, hope -- that no law can contradict the rules of Islam which are in fact found to be "undisputed," whereas the "disputed" rules can be contradicted by law? Seems it could be read either way.

In any event, (b) and (c) seem to guarantee democracy and freedom, and if there's a tension between democracy and freedom and the rules of Islam, the document doesn't, by its own express terms, state which will have the higher priority.

As has been pointed out, these sorts of vaguaries are common in constitutions. Ultimately most questions are settled by political/popular means, not by recourse to a previously-written guarantee. If the Iraqis want a theocratic Shari'a based state, they'll have it, whatever the constitution may say, and if they want a secular state that pays respect to Islam while not being dictated to by Islam, they'll have that too.


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posted by Ace at 01:23 PM

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