Attention Dobson, Colson, et al.

OK, I am confused and I predict that my confusion is shared by many other Christians, Jews, moderate Muslims, freedom-loving secularists and who knows who else.

Here is the crunch section of a Washington Post story today on Islam-and-oil battles in Iraq right now as the new constitution comes down to the wire and then over the wire into double overtime.

The draft constitution submitted Monday stipulates that Iraq is an Islamic state and that no law can contradict the principles of Islam, negotiators confirmed. Opponents have charged that the latter provision would subject Iraqis to rule by religious edicts of individual clerics or sects.

The opponents also said women would lose gains they made during Hussein’s rule, when they were guaranteed equal rights under civil law in matters including marriage, divorce and inheritance. The draft constitution says individuals can choose to have family matters decided by either religious or civil law.

Supporters say a separate bill of rights would protect women, and provisions of the constitution say no law can contradict democracy or that bill of rights.

So laws cannot contradict Islam, or democracy (I assume this means strict majority rule) or the new bill of rights (another product of democracy and majority rule). So in this majority-rule equation, what happens to the legal rights of women and religious minorities? I have not seen, in the MSM coverage, any mention of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Check out Article 18 if you want to see some really controversial, old-fashioned liberal language.

So I have questions:

What are the conservative Christian supporters of this White House thinking right now? What are they thinking about the war and this possible outcome? Are they getting angry? Have I missed an update on that? Check out this thread over at Open Book. Also, shouldn’t we be hearing more about this issue from human-rights activists on the left?

This could be one of those times when the sanctuaries in the red and the blue zip codes have just cause to be mad about the same thing at the same time. Meanwhile, keep one eye on the old-fashioned liberals — that often makes them conservatives today — at Freedom House.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Amy

    Will they be outlawing jihad? Because Islamic law DOES require it …

  • James Freeman

    Well, now that the “liberal democracy” rationalization for the Iraq War has gone the same way as the “weapons of mass destruction” and “close links to al Qaida” rationalizations, I look forward to the president’s next whopper.

    Which, of course, will be swallowed whole by a frightening percentage of the American public.

    Of course, swallowing an official lie is much easier than chewing on the hard truth that what the United States really has done — at the cost of almost 2,000 American lives and a couple of hundred billion dollars — is turn Iraq into a REAL al Qaida training ground and put that benighted country well on the road to Iranhood.

    Iran, as we all know, is part of the “Axis of Evil,” which used to include Iraq until we “improved” it by letting the Islamic fundamentalists have their way in turning the place into another Iran.

    At this point, the kindest thing I can say about President Bush is that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. seems to have become the Axis of Stupidity. I repent of having voted for the man in November — my conscience would be a lot clearer right now if I had followed my original plan of writing in Harry S. Truman.

  • Erik Nelson

    James, perhaps you should go read the 2003 state of the union address, where President Bush makes the case for democracy in Iraq. And that was before the shooting started. There were many arguments for war with Iraq, not just WMD, and not just democracy.

    Democracy in Iraq was always going to be difficult. As concerned as I am about religious freedom and civil society in Iraq, it is to be expected that there is going to be some contention. I don’t think the administration has given up on democracy in Iraq. Not at all (that said, the State Department has never really been that enthused about it, and sometimes seems to work counter to what the administration would like).

    Freedom House is doing some great work on this, and while there is concern, there is hope.

    And for links between Iraq and terrorism, go here:

  • Stephen A.

    Amy, I’ve heard moderate Muslims (yes, they do exist) argue that “jihad” can be, and should be, interpreted as “moral struggle within onesself.”

    Granted, the traditional definition (“kill infidels”) seems more prevalent in the Arab world, but it’s like looking at the Old Testment/Jewish Bible and finding the word “sacrifice” and interpreting that in the modern world to mean “personal struggle/sacrifice,” rather than actually ritually killing an animal.

    Hopefully, the Muslims in Iraq who get the modern version can prevail upon the others to think of jihad in this other, less murderous way.

    And back to the media for a moment, they at least have mentioned this verbal judo match about this word a few times, but could do it more often, and with other Islamic theological phrases, too.

  • Stephen A.

    “Supporters say a separate bill of rights would protect women,”

    Remember that with the U.S. Constitution, it took the approval of those first 10 Amendments (bill of rights) for some of the states to sign onto the Constitution at all. So it’s not unheard of that more amendments will be forthcoming. (Remember also that other nations have no compunction about amending their founding documents, sometimes dozens of times in a compressed period of time, if deemed necessary. Only the U.S. has made this super-difficult, and perhaps for good reasons.)

    Also remember that it took us more than a few years to get the rights of women and minorities “right.” But at least our Constitution set up a republic within a democracy that allowed that evolution towards freedom to take place.

    Hopefully, the Iraqi constitution does the same thing, within it’s understandably Islamic context.

    About Article 18 of the UN document, I think I’ve said this before, but Islam doesn’t really allow conversions to other faiths. So this must already be a sticking point in every muslim-majority nation.

  • James Freeman

    Stephen A. writes:

    “Also remember that it took us more than a few years to get the rights of women and minorities “right.” But at least our Constitution set up a republic within a democracy that allowed that evolution towards freedom to take place.”

    Yes it did. But we didn’t accomplish that through Gen. Lafayette’s endless patience, the sacrifice of thousands of invading French and Spanish soldiers’ lives or most of the crown’s treasure.

    The Spanish and the French helped the American rebels throw out the Brits and then they went home — or back to colonial Louisiana and West Florida, in the Spaniards’ case. We were on our own in working out the kinks of representative democracy.

    Every arguably legitimate reason for the United States to invade and occupy another country has been washed away by a flood of cold, hard facts. George Bush’s remaining rationalization, meanwhile, is starting to look, well, all wet.

    That the president happened to mention that rationalization in a 2003 State of the Union rhetorical flourish fails to make it a legitimate casus belli.

  • Stephen A.

    “But we didn’t accomplish that through Gen. Lafayette’s endless patience, the sacrifice of thousands of invading French and Spanish soldiers’ lives or most of the crown’s treasure.”

    The French didn’t spend a lot of time here because they waited so long getting here.

    And it actually cost the British a LOT of treasure – and six long years of war in a far-away land – to try and hold onto the colonies.

    I do agree, however, that the time to leave is fast approaching. Once a Constitution is hammered out, I bet some troops will be pulled home. I suspect the military planners don’t want to say anything at this point because they understand the wisdom of not announcing a pullout in advance.

    I also have to point out that we are still in Bosnia, although those folks are not as bloodthirsty (at the moment) as the Iraqi insurgents are. Still, the committment is still there and we remain planted between two tribes in Europe who have warred for centuries. Sound familiar?

    By the way, the Clinton admin. said they’d be out of Bosnia by Dec., 1996.

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