Leaving Islam



The Danger of Islam in Post-War Iraq

Paolo Bassi  

August 29 2005  

The daily news from Iraq makes it painfully clear that Washington 's plans are not going well.  The easy victory envisaged by the neo-conservatives is no-where in sight.  The stench of over 100,000 dead Iraqis along with almost 2,000, mostly working class, American soldiers, will not go away, no matter how many stage-managed speeches George W. Bush gives.  However, amidst all the suffering, a greater danger is brewing in Iraq .  The specter of an Islamic government is becoming a real possibility.  The Bush administrationís enthusiasm in creating an Iraqi "democracy" is now dampened by the possibility that Islam become a dominant force in the new Iraqi constitution.  

If Islam gains a foothold in the new constitution, it will not only be seen as a victory by Islamists but it will relegate Iraq 's people, especially its women and its tiny non-Muslim minority, into second-class citizenship.  For all their bravado, the neo-cons in Washington who sought war with Iraq are silent on the issue of a secular constitution.  If they can impose a war, why canít they oblige a secular constitution?  With the current chaos in Iraq , the irony is that Bush's policy may hand power to Islamósomething completely contradictory to his claim that war was necessary because Iraq harbored Islamic terrorism.  

Regardless of our political convictions and the real causes of war, we must accept that the United States now has the power and the responsibility to leave Iraq in a manageable state.  If Washington loses its nerve, not only could Iraq spiral into anarchy and dissolution, but in the south there is the danger of a breakaway Shia Islamic province.  Whatever Hussain's many crimes were, his Baathist regime managed to keep the Islamists out of Iraqi politics and provided a secular framework for all Iraqis.  Far from being an exporter of Islamic extremism, the Baathist ideology was one of an ill-defined socialism and Arab nationalism, held together by an authoritarian one-party rule.  The Baathists' success in keeping Islam out of politics should not be ignored by Washington .  If the United States had the nerve and political daring to invade Iraq , they need now to have the decency and audacity to demand a secular constitution and a basic charter of human rights for all Iraqis.  There must be no pandering to Islamic religious sentiment merely to showcase respect for democracy.  Now is the time to be even more daring and demand a secular constitution and codified human rights. What was won on the battlefield must not be squandered by allowing Islam a back-door entry to influence Iraq 's future.  








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