Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Saker Mohammed, 28, is a Shiite Muslim.
In answer to the question of what kind of government he
wants for the future of Iraq his reply is striking.
just want a normal government. Saddam was bad but it would
be worse if it was religious. We do not want to become like
Iran. We just want to be normal."
Hayder Mousa, 33 is a Sunni Muslim and a producer.
just want to be able to produce movies and work. I am a
Muslim but I don't want religion in the government in any
way. We just want to be a normal country. We definitely
do not want to become like Iran."
Hussein, 35 a Shiite Muslim office worker echoes their comments.
do not want an Islamic government. While we believe in Islam
and the Koran too often the religious leaders work more
for themselves and not for the people. All you have to do
is look at Iran."
Jabar, 32, also a Shiite businessman puts it ever stronger.
just want everyone out of our lives! Saddam destroyed our
country and we do not want a new dictator to take his place.
We believe very strongly that religion and government are
and should be separate. If they are together there will
be trouble like in Iran."
Hakem, a member of the Constitutional Committee putting
together a constitution under the Governing Council puts
it even more bluntly.
are a very educated people. The constitutional committee
has agreed that there will be no mention of religion or
ideology in the new constitution. If there is any mention
of ideology or religion it will be the end of democracy,
the rule of law and equal rights in Iraq."
can only be amazed to speak with Iraqis of all walks of
life, and religions and find a strong desire to have religion
and government separate. They constantly refer to neighboring
Iran as an example of what they do not want to be.
pronouncements to the contrary, slowly but surely an Islamic
state is taking place in Iraq.
the 1959 Civil Registration Law was overturned by the Governing
Council and replaced by a new system based on the much-feared
Islamic Law. The upcoming Fundamental Law -- a mini constitution
clearly "Islam is the religion of the state" in
Article 4 -- while granting collective religious rights,
does not grant individual religious and personal freedom.
to 33-year-old Fred George, an Assyrian-Christian who was
born and raised in Iran, "This is just what they did
in Iran! I remember. First they started with small things
and then little by little they took over and one day we
woke up and realized that it was too late."
in the face of the vast majority of Iraqis who are adamantly
against religious involvement in government and want simply
what they term 'normal' government, ... does the Coalition
Provision Authority and those in charge keep pushing for
an Islamic State?" asks 24-year-old Robert George.
is the question that is at the table. Nearly a year after
the liberation of Iraq things are going wonderfully in Iraq.
is so bad it takes two hours to go where it previously took
15 minutes, young people are starting small businesses from
Internet cafes to CD shops to everything in between on every
street corner. The buzz is
back in Iraq and things are booming. The Iraqi dinar has
doubled in value in less than one year.
over it all, though is the foreboding sense that it will
all collapse on July 1 when the proposed handover of power
is being planned.
July 1, we expect civil war. The Kurds will seal off their
borders, the Shias to the south will separate and the middle
will descend into chaos," says a U.S. official privately.
"We expect the airport to close down -- no airline
is going to fly into an airport like that."
Abu Zeid, 51, is a bit more crass.
don't want an Islamic country -- they will not allow us
to drink and I love to drink. We want the Americans to stay
until a good government is in place."
is going on? Why in the world in the face of the clear intent
of the people of Iraq, in poll after poll that they absolutely
do not want a Muslim government and do not want a handover
on July 1, is the United States intent on pushing it through?
matter whom you ask officially in Baghdad, the response
to this simple question is resounding silence.
the American people sacrifice the precious lives of over
550 beautiful young women and men to create the Islamic
Republic of Iraq against the wishes of the people?
Zamel, 36, and a Shiite puts it this way.
don't want a religious government. We just want to be normal
like the Americans. We want to travel -- we have not been
able to travel outside the country for 13 years, we want
to be able to take vacations, to be with our families --
to be normal."
American people reluctantly agreed to a war in Iraq to free
the Iraqi people from the nightmare of Saddam and to let
the Iraqi people have the same freedom we enjoy.
power over on July 1 will cause a civil war to break out
and the result will be an Iraq far worse than under the
worst of Saddam. When Iraq descends into chaos on July 1
and the calls for "who lost Iraq?" rise it will
be far worse for the current administration than the slow
but steady progress we now see in Iraq.
is the time to "stay the course," to keep to the
original plan, which was to have a non-religious, normal
constitution, elections with provisions for the persecuted
minorities, autonomy for local regions and a
government in place. Then and only then would there be transfer
Islamic Republic of Iraq? The Iraqi people don't want it!
The American people don't want it? Who does? Other than
the thugs who use religion to maintain tight grip over the
poor oppressed people nobody does.
time has come to say "stop" to the march toward
Islam. Cancel the July 1 transfer and go back to the original
plan. Then and only then will Iraq be able to move in the
direction all who sacrificed for its future deserve.
Hekmat Hakem, the Iraqi member of the Constitutional Committee
puts it bluntly, "Do the Americans think we are stupid?
We fought for 35 years against Saddam Hussein and finally
got our freedom. We are not going to let
it happen again."
He's right on the money. Somebody should listen before it
is too late.
Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian, the original people
of Iraq and directs ssyrianchristians.com and is writing
a book about his experience in Iraq titled "I Was Wrong."