Friday, September 16, 2005

Michael in Framingham wrote: " My question, have you read the constitution? Do you support it? Do you think the Sunni's will reject or support it en masse? Are you yourself Sunni? (You don't have to answer that last one if you don't want to) "

Michael: My name is not Salaam, this is a form of greeting which means peace.
Regarding the constitution, this is a difficult question. There are certainly many positive principles, and others that are rather questionable. For instance the one particular clause which states that no laws can be legislated that contradict the basic principles of Islam, is an extremely dangerous phrase and is open to all sorts of interpretations. There is a certain ambiguity in several other clauses which should not be there. Regarding the role of religion, although I consider myself a pious and practicing Moslem, I nevertheless share with the secularists the view that a strict separation between politics and civil law on the one hand and religion on the other is absolutely necessary. Meddling of the clergy in politics is probably one of the worst things that are happening and is certainly one of the causes of the mess we have today. Luckily on the Shiaa side we have Al-Sistani whose position basically is that religious authorities should maintain an aloof position and abstain from direct involvement, but only engage in general counsel and advice when things really get bad. Regarding Federalism, there are pros and cons., in the short term it might create a loose form of government which the country is not in need of at the moment; however, in the long term the system may have merits. In general in the referendum I suppose I am going to vote for it mainly from a desire for the political process to go forward and not be set back to square one. I am waiting for the final amended draft which I have not seen yet, and it seems that important amendments were made including those regarding religion.
Am I a Sunni? Well, my father was a Shiite, mother Sunni and my wife is Sunni. Thus, according to the patriarchal system that we have that makes me a Shiite technically but with considerable Sunni connections. But this is an illustration of the kind of mixture we have, especially in the cities, and explains the difficulties facing the Takfirists and the Zarqawis in igniting sectarian war, but they are surely trying very hard and pushing things to the edge.
Will the Sunnis vote for or against the constitution? I think if the Sunnis in the "Triangle" are allowed to vote peacefully they are likely to turn it down and by the rule of two thirds majority in three provinces the National assembly will dissolve and elections for a new one must be held to write again the constitution. However, the terrorists are waging a vicious campaign of intimidation again and this time much more savage than the last time. They are even threatening the people with chemical weapons and God knows what dirty things are in store for us. So, ironically, it may be the terrorists themselves who are going to help the constitution to be voted in, by preventing the Sunnis from voting.

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