Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Our elections

I wanted to write about our elections which is supposed to be held in January next year, I might not find the right words to express my thoughts, But I will try.
For me I don’t care whether Sunni, shiat, Kurdish or any religion/ethnic group win the elections if they are qualified, but I don’t want an Islamic government (I want a secular government). What I really hate about this election is that it’s made as ethnic and religious groups only, without giving concern about who is qualified and who is not. I heard that in the next days those parties will start their campaigns on TV and newspapers.
Till now I don’t know any of those parties, I don’t want to vote based on religion. I want to choose what I think is right and best for my country.
Since the governing council was established a year ago, everything in our live is dividing according to religious/sect origin, they even distributed the ministries according to that not the qualification!.
In the eighties and the years before it, nobody cared about whether you are sunni or shii, or even asked what your religious is. Saddam created this problem by his bloody policy and increased largely in the nineties. now after the war the gap increased very much, every religion sect thinks that they should vote to their group to win and nobody thinks which are the best for them. For me I think a religion is something you inherited, you might believe in it or not, it is something between you and God. It had nothing to do with politics.
I always wonder Why the sunni should listen to their clerics not to vote in the elections, I wonder if those clerics asked themselves who will lose if they did not participate. They are of course.
I’m Sunni (I hate to say that) because I don’t want to make divisions between Iraqis, but I don’t agree with what some clerics are doing and I’m more upset when I hear people are following their orders. Those clerics might be good in their field (many of them don’t act like that now) but they know nothing about politics and they can’t take decisions for other people.
As for the shia, they are playing very good for their interest, But according to their beliefe they should obey their cleric in whatever he tells them, weather they are convinced with it or not, it has a name in Arabic but I don’t know how to translated in English. till now Al- Sistani is doing great job and solved big problems without shading blood. But what I’m afraid of is his support towards some elections lists, which contains most of the shia’s extremist parties, and very near to Iran. If he is really going to support those parties, that means all the shia or most of them, will vote for those parties. which is something I really don’t want, because we will be simillar to Iran in many ways.
In Mousl, the terrorist prevent the distribution of the elections papers by threatening those responsible for its distribution to people, and unfortunately they are succeeding in this. I was hearing in the radio one of those people who said that he received a threat in his house and he said I have children and I have to take care of them, so I did not distribute those papers.
For me I think the elections should be delayed for a while till the security situation gets better, now it is impossible for the people to go for voting in many places, even in Baghdad. there is still car bombs almost everyday, many people will be afraid to go for voting. The places for voting can not be fully secured and one can’t be sure that it is safe. how can you make an elections in this way. The south will vote, the kurds will vote, and that’s it.
I’m always asking myself if we are ready for democracy and if the people are ready for it.
we have many uneducated people in Iraq, maybe the majority, I wonder if those people will make good decisions about the best for our country, or they will choose unwisely. I’m always afraid of that point.

34 Comments:

Blogger Susieq said...

Rose,

You are correct, in my opinion, NOT to want any religious group be in charge of your government. I, too, think that would be a step in the wrong direction for your people.

However, I do disagree with you concerning the postponement of the elections. I think they MUST be held at the end of January. Heck, you can always have another one later! If Iraqis REALLY want the US out, they MUST come together as a nation UNITED and ask us, as a united people, to leave. We will go (and will be extremely happy about that)!

A vote SHOULD take place. You must look forward and not back. I understand the misgivings and mistrust your people are feeling, but you've got to start somewhere. I know it will be dangerous, and I know that we, as Americans, take all of our liberties for granted each and every day.

I have also been somewhat relieved to be reading SOMETHING/ANYTHING from the interim government...good and bad. You must have communication. I wish President Bush would address the Iraqi nation, but I'm sure he has been advised against it. It would surely look as if he were trying to control the election (as in OBL prior to ours).

Doing SOMETHING is better than doing NOTHING, even if it ends up being the wrong decision.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Lynn in the US said...

Rose,
You ARE ready for a democracy. Uneducated people can vote - there are many in my country that do!
Maybe someone that is a respected member of society can run a seminar in a meeting house or auditorium talking to people about rights and how to best use them by voting. Maybe some of those people that think that their clerics have to do their thinking for them can see that they can maybe do some thinking on their own.
I hope that you will be able to have "Town Hall" debates with the candidates so that people can see for themselves who these people are and if what they stand for is the best for the country.
You have over 200 nominations? Are there plans to narrow that down with preliminary votes? You could end up with a president with 2% of the popular vote. That wouldn't work.
I wonder about using absentee ballots for the areas that are unsafe or for the people that are afraid to vote in public. Do you think that that would work?
I agree with you about not caring what religion or ethnic group that a candidate is from. I don't like to call myself a democrat or a republican and I think that the best candidates are the ones that look past these party lines and work for the COUNTRY not for their politcal party's agenda.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Pat in NC said...

At the risk of being accused of interfering, I wonder if you have visited http://english.iraqdemparty.org/ They have listed their basic slate of ideas they want to see in the new Iraq government which will be determined by the development of the Iraq Constitution. It can at least give you a basis for comparison as other parties state what they want to see. Al Sistani has been quoted as saying he does not want a theocracy.
The Iranian Shia are not pleased and have sent fighters into Iraq.

11:43 AM  
Blogger johnny said...

Rose,
Firstly let me say you have again expressed your thoughts beautifully in words that we all understand perfectly. As we say in the West, romantically, 'full of eastern promise'. ;-)

For you personally and the West a religious government along the lines of Iran is the worst case scenario and all the cost and suffering on our side would have been for nothing. Knowing how Britain and the US feel about Iran that certainly won't be allowed to happen. Besides, your constitution in no way resembles Iran's. Delaying the elections won't solve the problem of security but it will be the first priority of whichever party is elected to power to solve it. No government can function with terrorism and mayhem on the loose.
I'm certainly no expert in politics but the UN, the Iraqi interim government and International advisers who have drawn up the constitution would be aware of the fears you and many educated Iraq's like you have. Is there a party leader who is pro Western along the lines of Afghanistan's Hamid Kazai or would that be Iyad Alawi (Iraqi National Accord). ?

2:10 PM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...

Rose,

Good to see you writing about the elections. I hope you get the chance to vote. It's really important. The people elected will write the new Iraqi constitution.

I really hope secular Iraqis like you, your friends and family go to the polls and cast their votes. That's the only way Iraq can get more secular people elected to write the constitution.

Take care. It's always nice to read your posts.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Voters are often NOT wise, but that's okay in a democracy. That's because they can learn and do better next time.

Democracy is a TERRIBLE system of government. Churchill said (it's a joke, but it's also true) democracy is the worst possible kind of government---except for all the others.

Jeff

6:26 PM  
Blogger mtnyogi said...

Dear Rose,

I just wanted to say that in our country (USA) I have seen that the people do a pretty good job of voting. Many times I've been concerned about the outcome of an important election, especially when the media has been pushing for an outcome that I think is bad for the country. But the people seem to be able to see through the media spin and generally make good decisions.

That said, don't expect that elections will always go the way that you would like them to. When they don't, I've found that things don't get as bad as I would have thought. It seems that each political group has something good to contribute to the country, and over the years each gets a chance to make its contribution.

On delaying elections, I would fear that this would be seen as a sign that the insurgents were winning and would increase the amount of support they receive which would make them stronger. If this were so, the next date set for elections would be even harder to keep as the level of attacks would be worse then than they are now. I think that it would be better to continue moving forward than to risk getting stuck.

It seems that the way that the upcoming Iraqi elections are structured, there will be far too many personalities to keep track of and that it would be better to focus on what each party stands for. Don't underestimate the importance of the Iraqi Constitution. Try to understand what each party's vision is for this important document and then vote for the party that you think has the best answer. You might even use your blog to discuss different options concerning the constitution (for example, federalism, what should be a bill of rights to protect the minorities, to what extent should the constitution tie the country to Islam, etc).

Finally, I would encourage you to vote! Also, I would suggest that you encourage those that you have contact with to vote also.

Best of luck, Rose!

6:56 PM  
Blogger MonicaR said...

Rose - you will be able to find out about the parties and their platforms soon. You will make a good choice and an informed choice.

I agree that I would prefer a secular government as well. I was worried about Sistani too. We have to trust the Iraqi people now. Vote for the party that is nearest to your feelings about what you want. No party is perfect - and there is no party in the US that I agree with their platform 100%.

This election will not be perfect - no election is ever perfect. It is just the beginning.

Buckle up and get ready for the wild ride - you're heading toward the elections!! Hang on and you will be fine. Trust yourself and make that best decision. All participating Iraqis will be doing the same.

God Bless you all and your country.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Cultfree said...

Religious groups are simply "special interest groups". Allowing special interest groups to dominate your gov't or preparing your constitution is hardly democracy. They can lobby the gov't or petition for change, but you dont BASE THE WHOLE DAMN THING on them. Fairness has no religion or skin color or tribe. It will be interesting to see how Iraqis use their new freedoms... to suppress freedoms maybe? Keep in mind all the Saudi and Iranian bloggers who've mysteriously disappeared from the blogosphere. Sectarianism has too many parallels with racism.

3:59 PM  
Blogger johninnz said...

Hi Rose. I had some trouble getting past the anonymous comments barrier, so please excuse if this post is a bit long.
1) Is Iraq ready for democracy? I think that it is not a matter of education, as you suggest, but a matter of attitudes - democracy only works when all or most of the people accept that they must abide by legitimate majority decisions, and disagree peacefully, with "ballots, not bullets." Given the tragic history of your country over the last 50 years or so, are most of the people ready for this now?
2) Postpone the elections? There have been quite a number of nations over the last few decades which have made peaceful transitions from dictatorship to democracy, e.g. Spain, Argentina, many of the former Soviet bloc. But none of them have done it while their country was occupied by foreign troops hated by much of the population for their "shoot first" tactics; or while there was something very like a war going on inside the country. It sounds like a really crazy idea: but perhaps it would be crazier to just carry on with the present situation - the insurgency seems to just be getting worse, some news reports even suggest it is winning, how could it be reduced significantly in three or six months? Better to try something than do nothing?
3) Religion? As you know, Abu Kahleel has recently posted some very interesting articles about Shia/Sunni relationships. The most alarming part was his description of how people in his neighbourhood used to joke about their differences, but now the joking has stopped. Do you have Shia relatives, friends, neighbours? Have your relationships with them changed?

1:41 AM  
Blogger usually mellow said...

I have just discovered the Iraqi blogs and I am truly fascinated by them. I am in awe and I cannot help but feel guilty for taking my freedom and freedom from fear for granted.

A couple of points to remember: this national election is important for many reasons. However, there is a saying in the US that ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL.

While a national election helps to establish a national identity and a national governemnt that will develop national policies reflecting the will of the people, local elections and local governments are where much of the action is: delivery of basic services (trash, water, police, parks, etc.)

Do not neglect this fact in your view of the national elections. "Democracy" is not created in a a top down (national election) fashion. Democracy is bottom up phenomenon. The local governments and local elections are part of this "bottom up" philosophy.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

"I want a secular government" you said Rose.
I think thats how a state should be governed. But what is the reality? Look at America, the USA, it isn't really secular. Look at Europe, Italy has with Berlusconi narrow bonds with the Vatican and Maffia. Eastern Europe has ties to the catholic and orthodox church and what about the EU itself? People very close to the pope have very high positions in the European Commission.
I think that because believe is something personal you see it back in politics which is in fact also something personal.

Stay optimistic Rose and have a good Christmas and happy new year,
Jan

4:30 PM  
Blogger Good Shepherd said...

I just discovered your blog and I've really appreciated it. Thanks for sharing!

I am a Christian and a member of the clergy -- and I agree with you about not voting for someone because they share your faith but are not qualified. Of course, I voted for Kerry to be our President and lost! But that is the way with elections -- there is always the next election.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Jay Gatsby said...

Ugh, political Clergy. ;) just kidding. I also just discovered this blog, and I'll add you to my blogroll. I agree with keeping religion out of goverment (but, I support Bush) and I wish the best for you and your people. By the way, if you hear anything about Ali over at Iraq the Model, let me know. I'm afraid the media in the USA won't pick it up. My blog os www.viewoftherepublic.blogspot.com and my email is devilinthemirr0r@netscape.net. Thanks, and best wishes

-Dan Meyers

10:41 AM  
Blogger Husayn said...

Your insights on the situation are dead on. The role of religion in politics is going to cause a big problem for us in Iraq.

12:21 PM  
Blogger TxRockhound said...

Very nice post Rose! I really hope that Sistani and the other more moderate Shia clerics learned something valuable about being powerless from their time under Saddam's boot heels. I know from reading these blogs that Iraq has many very intelligent, very wise people. The fact that you and others like you recognize the potential difficulty inherent in religious rule in Iraq is the first step to hopefully keeping it from becoming reality. If Sistani and his potential list of candidates look back on the times they were oppressed by Saddam, hopefully they will take steps as they work with others to write the constitution to see that nobody will be oppressed for their religion in the new Iraq. If the average Shia or Sunni on the street don't have built in animosity towards each other, there is no reason why their elected representatives necessarily have to be opponents in writing the constitution.

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