Democracy in Iraq
Many people have been expressing their hopes for the results of the Iraqi elections, and counseling patience before succumbing to pessimism. Some have pointed out that the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in the world, has openly called for a "quietist" role for Islamic clerics, whereby they would have no direct role in politics. Given that he is the spiritual equivalent of the Pope to most Shiites, this would seem to be a positive development, one foretelling possible progress for Iraq.
Although al-Sistani's "quietist" philosophy sounds promising (especially considering that he was a contemporary of Ayatollah Khomeini, the theocratic leader of the Iranian Islamic revolution), I think such optimism is misplaced. I just finished reading an interesting article in Newsweek on al-Sistani, What Sistani Wants
. On the whole the article is pessimistic, though not as much as I am. One paragraph in particular caught my eye, though the reporters seem to have missed its significance(emphasis added):
Sistani will take no part in deciding exactly who will make up the government, Shahristani says. "He refuses even to meet with the alliance now," Shahristani says. "He says, 'You were elected, so it's up to you now. Don't drag me into it'." But he has set down some guidelines that will have to be followed. "He rejects any role for the clerics in the governance or administration of the country," says Shahristani. Al-Rubaie, also a member of the United Iraqi Alliance's executive committee, confirmed that. And Sistani will insist that Islam is the national religion, with no laws that contradict Islamic principles. But at the same time, as he once told a Shia politician, "there is nothing written in the Qur'an about elections." For that, he said, he reads textbooks on democracy.
No clerics in the government is a good thing; Islam as the foundation of the government, let alone
as the standard of what will be legal (no laws contradicting Islamic principles) is disastrous, and cannot lead to anything approaching freedom, not in the long run.
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 10:18 PM