Will Iraqi Kurdistan Ever Get New Constitution?

The Clerics' Federation believes the Muslim identity of most of Iraqi Kurdish society needed to be noted and that Sharia law should underpin all laws, including new laws, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Obviously this emphasis on religion is not desired by secular parties in Iraqi Kurdistan and their first request to the Constitution Drafting Committee was that Article 6 of the current Constitution should be cancelled – this says that Sharia law is the main source of law in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“Keeping Article 6 in the Constitution paves the way for a male-dominated society that oppresses females,” says Bahar Munther, a women's rights and civil society activist from the Kurdistan Secular Centre, or KSC, which works to separate church and state and which recently launched a campaign to collect 50,000-signatures to abolish Article 6.

Munther says that the KSC believes that Article 6 not only prolongs sexism but that it also allows the violation of rights of minorities and other religions, as well as encouraging differences between the citizens in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The KSC, Munther says, wants, “the source of legislation to be the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international laws and treaties”.

Despite this Kawani says that he believes that the religious parties will win this particular battle. “If this requires public pressure, we could organise this because the majority of people in Kurdistan are Muslim,” Kawani told NIQASH. “We can gather hundreds to demonstrate in front of the drafting Committee's offices to push them to enshrine Islamic law in the new Constitution.”

Members of the Constitution Drafting Committee say that religion has been one of the most heated and topical debates. “During the last three weeks we have met with dozens of political parties and different people and we are now familiar with a wide range of opinions,” says Adnan Othman, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee and representative from the opposition Change movement.

Othman noted that he and his colleagues were under a lot of pressure from all sides. “All of these opinions will be taken into account but in the end,” he explained, “the Constitution does not have to be acceptable to every single party. That's not a condition for its existence.”

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