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Re: [casi-analysis] Iraqi GC Law 137 and its potential effect onIraqi women's status

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Dear Cathy and list

Cathy Aitchison said in her interesting mail:

> Western media reported that thousands demonstrated against the Coalition's
> plans to set up a government for Iraq by appointments rather than elections.
> So far, so good.
> But little was said in the mainstream Western media (except in the Financial
> Times and Washington Post) about one of the actions of the current
> US-selected Governing Council which sparked such strong feeling:
> - namely, the repealing of the 1958 (or 1959) unified secular Personal
> Status Law (or Family Law) under which, I understand, men and women have
> equal status, in favour of instituting Sharia law

Unfortunately, the 'strong feeling' manifested by the thousands who
demonstrated against the appointments proposal was expressed in support of
Grand Ayatollah Sistani, a leading expert in the Shi'i interpretation of the
Sharia. They were most definitely NOT demonstrating against the repealing of
the unified secular Personal Status Law. In fact the demonstrations were
largely organised by SCIRI and al-Dawa, who are represented on the IGC and
were almost certainly behind the decree.

Although Dan is right to point out that the legal status of this decree is
doubtful it still has its significance. The IGC as I understand it is
charged with laying out basic principles for the governance of Iraq until
such time as a constitution is agreed, and there is an assumption that
principles agreed by the IGC will have a good chance of entering into the
final constitution. Unified secular principles of family law are among the
things  some of us might have hoped would feature in the principles and
final constitution. But it now looks as though this is unlikely.

Even if the Americans force it into the principles its still unikely to make
it into the constitution since Sistani has alrady established the principle
that the constitution can only be agreed by a democratically elected body,
ie a body susceptible to the inluence of the ayatollahs.

Best wishes


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