Can Iraq Separate Religion and State?

In this regard, Iraqi writer and social affairs researcher Makki al-Sultani told Al-Monitor, “Acts of deterrence and intimidation shall not prevent the holding of social events, particularly when it comes to singing and drinking. For any forced restrictions imposed on such activities will lead to people secretly indulging in them.”

But these campaigns aim at Islamizing society and hindering any form of secular activity, particularly social clubs, which the religious factions view as manifestations of immorality and debauchery that must be opposed at any cost.

Previous examples include an incident in March 2010, when a hand grenade was tossed by unknown assailants inside a billiards hall that served alcoholic drinks in Basra's al-Shaar neighborhood, injuring eight people. In 2012, Iraqi activists said that governmental and religious authorities were standing against some youths for imitating the Western lifestyle because they “threatened Islam and social ethics.”

Iraq is not an exception when it comes to the actions of conservative and extremist factions that seek to establish a state in accordance with Sharia. Such activities take place in many Muslim societies, such as Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

This trend is opposed by civil parties and factions, which exacerbates the internal conflict between the two camps and threatens social peace. Perhaps the best solution lies in a government not influenced by those factions.

Historically, the first social club in Baghdad was Al Alawiya Club, established in 1924, while the first national beauty pageant in Iraq was organized in 1947. A people with this kind of heritage would be better served by the protection of liberties and individual choice.

(Koran image via Shutterstock)

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