Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Bremer on Islamic law

Paul Bremer has stated that he will not allow Islamic law to become the "backbone" of Iraq's new constitution:

Iraq's U.S. administrator suggested yesterday that he would block any move by Iraqi leaders to make Islamic law the backbone of an interim constitution, which women's groups fear could threaten their rights.

During a visit to a women's center in Karbala, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said the current draft of the interim constitution, due to take effect at the end of the month, would make Islam the state religion and "a source of inspiration for the law" — but not the main source for that law.

However, Mohsen Abdel-Hamid, president of the Iraqi Governing Council and a Sunni Muslim hard-liner, has proposed making Islamic law the "principal basis" of legislation.

Mr. Bremer was asked what would happen if Iraqi leaders wrote into the interim charter that Islamic Shariah law is the principal basis of legislation. "Our position is clear," he replied. "It can't be law until I sign it."

Mr. Bremer must sign all measures passed by the 25-member council before they can become law. Iraq's powerful Shi'ite clergy, however, wants the interim constitution to be approved by an elected legislature. Under U.S. plans, a permanent constitution would not be drawn up and put to a vote by the Iraqi people until 2005.


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