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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq constitution draft gives Islam key role - 07/27/05

Iraq constitution draft gives Islam key role - 07/27/05Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq constitution draft gives Islam key role

The move would make religion the source of legislation; women fear erosion of their rights.

By Bassem Mroue / Associated Press

U.S. toll in Iraq

As of today, at least 1,778 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,639 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Framers of Iraq's constitution will designate Islam as the main source of legislation, according to a draft published Tuesday. The draft states no law will be approved that contradicts "the rules of Islam" -- a requirement that could affect women's rights and set Iraq on a course far different from the one envisioned when U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

"Islam is the official religion of the state and is the main source of legislation," reads the draft published in the government newspaper Al-Sabah. "No law that contradicts with its rules can be promulgated."

The document also grants the Shiite religious leadership in Najaf a "guiding role" in recognition of its "high national and religious symbolism." Al-Sabah noted, however, that there were unspecified differences among the committee on the Najaf portion. Those would presumably include Kurds, Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites on the committee.

During U.S. control of Iraq, which ended June 28, 2004, key Shiite and some Sunni politicians sought to have Islam designated the main source of legislation in the interim constitution, which took effect in March 2004.

The U.S. governor of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, blocked the move, agreeing only that Islam would be considered "a source" -- but not the only one. At the time, prominent Shiite politicians agreed to wait and pursue the issue during the drafting of the permanent constitution.

Some women's groups fear strict interpretation of Islamic principles could erode their rights in such areas as divorce and inheritance.

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