Since the religious movements gained power, they have found opportunities to further their interests in the Ministry of Tourism. Liwaa' Smaysem, the former minister of tourism and antiquities in Maliki's government and a member of the Sadrist movement, faced a wave of criticism in December 2014 when he described Iraq’s monuments as “idols,” the religious idea upon which Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi justified destroying a large number of Iraqi antiquities in Mosul.
Religious parties and movements describe the civil, cultural, artistic and media activists who call for the protection of public freedoms as defenders of nightclubs, despite the Iraqi Constitution itself stipulating the protection of the freedoms they defend.
Religious movements are trying to derail civil society efforts to defend public freedoms by defining them as defending liquor sales and nightclubs.
The ongoing violation of public freedoms might lead to further clashes with the civil forces in Iraq, which are still fighting for the protection of freedoms in Baghdad, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah after they were defeated in many other cities amid the religious tide.
The government's failure to impartially manage the natural conflict between civil and religious powers, blind eye to these attacks and failure to hand over the perpetrators to justice suggest to some a conspiracy between it and the clergy and extremist movements.
All these factors point to the government’s true position on democracy in Iraq and raise questions about whether democracy was just a temporary slogan used to transition to religious rule.
(Koran image via Shutterstock)