Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Elections in Iraq

Here’s an interesting article in today’s Washington Post.

A sample:

"The clergy are advocating elections 100 percent," said Sami Shamousi, the prayer leader of a Shiite community center in downtown Baghdad. "It has become a religious responsibility for us to encourage participation in the elections."

At his worship hall, he has distributed about 200 leaflets printed by the Ghadir Foundation, a community organization that is based in the sprawling slum of Sadr City and is loosely supervised by Sistani and other senior ayatollahs. Stacks of posters with Sistani’s portrait were piled in dimly lit rooms, darkened by an electrical outage. On shelves were bundles of leaflets and pamphlets that present questions and answers about the vote: "What are we electing?" and "What does proportional representation mean?"

In a second-floor office sat Sayyid Hashem Awadi, 38, a gaunt cleric in black turban and gray gown who directs the foundation’s staff of 30. For 65 days, he said he had been too busy to return to his home in Najaf.

"This stage is too critical," he said. "We’re afraid of failure."

On his desk was an Arabic-language pamphlet on civil society, a phrase that usually describes a vibrant give-and-take between citizens and their government. The pamphlet, printed by his foundation and emblazoned with a map of Iraq, notes the term was imported from the West. But it adds, "In reality, the crises sweeping our societies force us to seek help though other people’s experiences."

Awadi, whose speech shifts effortlessly from Western thought to Islamic principle, nodded his head in agreement.

Iraq, he said, was long a militarized society, where in Hussein’s days "you either obeyed orders or you are killed." Awadi’s vision was a society in which opinions were respected and disputes were "not a reason for killing each other." The way to create that society was through the elections in January, he said, a process in which people’s opinions would be respected.

Read the whole thing.

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