Women, Minorities Worry About Draft Of Iraq Charter

Concerns mounted throughout the summer that Islam will take a prominent place in Iraq’s new constitution, threatening the rights of women and religious minorities.

A 71-member committee working to prepare a constitution has sent conflicting signals on how prominent a role Islam will play in the nation’s new governing document and to what extent equality for women will be ensured.

In late July, The Washington Post reported that Humam Hammoudi, the constitution committee chairman, said that Iraq’s charter would enshrine “a significant role for religion in the state.” At a news briefing, Hammoudi said that the committee was working to build a government that would fall somewhere between the more secular Muslim nation of Turkey and the Muslim theocracy of Iran.

Earlier in the month, a draft constitution obtained by reporters stated that Islam would be “a main form of legislation.” It was also reported that the committee is considering proposals to allow family law to be dictated by Shariah, a strict interpretation of Koranic law.