Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Iraqi women urge limited sharia in new constitution

CSMonitor reports At a meeting of prominent Iraqi women concerned that Islam will be enshrined in Iraq's constitution, one of the things they asked for provided a surprising glimpse of just where Iraq's winds of political change are heading. While they demanded equal rights and an express ban on violence against women, it was a joint statement by the 16 women that raised eyebrows: "The Islamic sharia should be one of the sources of law." The women know that Iraq is a deeply Islamic country and are seeking to inoculate their fight for equal rights against allegations of being un-Islamic.

That is very smart of them.
Asked why they feel that sharia alone isn't enough to protect their rights, Rend Rahim, an Iraqi-American and ambassador to the US who lobbied in exile for regime change here, cut in. "We don't fear sharia,'' she says. "Islam guarantees rights for women. But what we're concerned about is the arbitrary interpretations'' that could hurt women's rights.
They are right there, and another problem with Sharia is that the judges are clerics, and does a Sunni want to be judged by a Shiite cleric, or does a Shiite want to be judged by a Sunni cleric?
Some interpretations allow for men to beat their wives, give men more inheritance rights than women, and consider a woman's testimony to be worth less than a man's when it comes to legal disputes. Ms. Rahim says the women are adamant that sharia only be "a" source of law rather than "the" source of law, as Iraq's biggest Shiite political parties want, because it would take the job of religious interpretation out of individuals' hands, and put them into the hands of clerics.
I really think they would be better off being judged by an independent judiciary, that did not include clerics from either sect.

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