Morning Report 7/27/05
Veiled Threat

New Iraqi constitution looks great—as long as you're not a woman

Iraqi-woman-UNIFEM-7-24-05-.jpg

© IRIN

Corrosive constitution: Believe it or not, the new Iraqi constitution would be far less progressive for women than Saddam Hussein's regime was.

Iraqi women, already beset by domestic violence and acid attacks for disobeying religious edicts, have a new reason to feel a sharp pain in the gut these days: The country's proposed constitution definitely doesn't agree with them.

There's no defense for the brutal idiot Saddam Hussein, but the fact is that we ousted one of the few secular regimes in the Arab world, and now Iraq will become a theocracy. The only question is just how severe a tyrannically religious state it will be.

We face similar pressures from religious creeps here in the U.S., but a little less intense. Still, though, a judge in North Carolina is trying to force us to swear on his holy book. And in Alabama, of course, Distinguished Christian Statesman Roy Moore wants us to worship his commandments. Thou shalt shut the fuck up, Roy.

More on the North Carolina case, but first, here's how the Los Angeles Times describes the new constitution this morning:

    [T]he draft constitution's provisions on women have drawn clear criticism from U.S. officials. In the draft, a single sentence jettisons nearly 50 years of progressive Iraqi legislation protecting women's rights.

    The draft reads: "The state provides all rights for women to make them equal to men in all fields according to Islamic Sharia laws and to help women to make a balance between their family and societal duties."

    Explicit mention of Sharia indicates the drafters' intention to reinstate religious courts to oversee marriages, divorces, and disputes surrounding inheritances. Although the language is less explicit than in some earlier versions, it still would remove all "domestic" issues from the jurisdiction of civil courts, said Rajaa Khuzai, a physician who is a member of the constitution-writing commission.

U.S. officials are upset. Of course they are. They should be. But we set this ball in motion. You know, the one that's rolling downhill?

And there are other ominous signs for the West in the rest of the draft. Again from the Times:

    The draft text states that "Islam is the official religion of the state. It is the basic source for legislation. It is forbidden to pass a law that contradicts its fixed rulings." That language is considerably stronger than the model set down by U.S. authorities before the hand-over of sovereignty last year, which stated that Islam would be "a source" for legislation.

Hey, over here in the States, we've got congressmen like John Hostettler of Indiana giving seminars on Capitol Hill about the "Biblical Basis of Law."

A theocracy like the one being built in Iraq is the same kind of government the right-wing Christians seek for the United States. Only it's a different holy book.

And if you can prove otherwise, the pizza's on me.

The latest attempt to combat the religious right is in North Carolina, where the local ACLU is going to court to stop Bible-thumping judges from shoving their religion down everyone's throats:

    The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina, challenging North Carolina state courts' practice of refusing to allow people of non-Christian faiths to take religious oaths using any text other than the Christian Bible.

The ACLU-NC's executive director, Jennifer Rudinger, says:

    "The government cannot favor one set of religious values over another and must allow all individuals of faith to be sworn in on the holy text that is in accordance with their faith. By allowing only the Christian Bible to be used in the administration of religious oaths in the courtroom, the State is discriminating against people of non-Christian faiths."

This oath fracas has imprecations for the rest of us.

The Christian Science Monitor's Patrik Jonsson, in a detailed account, wrote:

    The recent refusal by a Guilford County, N.C., judge to allow a Muslim woman to swear upon Islam's holy text before testifying is, in part, a new First Amendment challenge.

    Legal experts say that both the "establishment" and "free exercise" clauses of the Constitution appear to prohibit banning the Koran. Indeed, some see the Guilford County controversy as another case of a US official promoting one religion over another.

    "This case is a cousin to the Ten Commandments case in Alabama, where a judge does something that's pretty obviously unconstitutional, with a goal of sending a message ... that he's for fundamental religious values," says New York University law professor Noah Feldman, author of Divided by God.

Oh, good. The spread of theocracy both here and in Iraq. Let freedom be reined.



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