Saturday, February 05, 2005

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani
Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
In case you were wondering, this is the guy who is winning the election in Iraq.

Is it just me, or does he bear a striking resemblance to another Ayatollah we once knew?

The New York Times is reporting today
that the Shiite clerics are anxious to write the country's new constitution so that they can enshrine Shariah, or Koranic law, as the foundation of the new government.

What will that mean?

"The clerics generally agree that the constitution must ensure that no laws passed by the state contradict a basic understanding of Shariah as laid out in the Koran. Women should not be treated as the equals of men in matters of marriage, divorce and family inheritance, they say. Nor should men be prevented from having multiple wives, they add."

Lovely. And how exactly is this different from the Taliban? It seems that in some parts of Iraq, this kind of fundamentalism is already taking hold.

"In Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, where one of Ayatollah Sistani's closest aides has enormous influence, Shiite religious parties have been transforming the city into an Islamic fief since the toppling of Mr. Hussein. Militias have driven alcohol sellers off the streets. Women are harassed if they walk the streets in anything less than head-to-head black. Conservative judges are invoking Shariah in some courts."

Bush has been going on and on about how we have given the Iraqi people their freedom. But democracy doesn't necessarily guarantee freedom for everyone.

Wouldn't it be ironic if it turns out that we spent $300-plus billion to help establish another Islamic fundamentalist state in the Middle East?

Quick! Time for a pop quiz! Why did the United States under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush support Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran?

Because he was a secular leader whom we considered to be more amenable to our interests.

Now that we've tossed Hussein out finally, it looks like we may be helping to establish another Khomeini-like government. And remember that this is the guy that Bush is counting on to serve as a beacon of freedom that will spread across the rest of the Middle East.

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