UPDATE: Iraq: Campaign to affirm Personal Status Law and remove Article 41 from the constitution

We have received the following information from Iraqi friends who have initiated a campaign now that the constitutional committee has been formed. Their demands will be sent to the committee, to urge them to affirm the Personal Status Law and to remove Article 41 from the Iraqi constitution.
Article 41
First: The followers of all religions and sects are free in the:
A. Practice of religious rites, including the Husseini ceremonies (Shiite religious ceremonies).
B. Management of the endowments, its affairs and its religious institutions. The law shall regulate this.
Second: The state guarantees freedom of worship and the protection of the places of worship.
Letter to the Constitutional Amendment Committee

In the name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate

Ladies and Gentlemen, respected members of the constitutional amendment committee:

Warm greetings:

We are Iraqi organizations, both women’s groups and those which include men and women, working both inside and outside Iraq. We are Arab and international organizations. We are individual men and women. We all believe in human rights and freedoms. We believe in the importance of establishing Iraqi unity according to the principle of citizenship. We believe a state of law, justice and equality. We raise before you our demand to affirm law 188, the Personal Status Law of 1959, in the knowledge that certain necessary amendments which do not affect the essential nature of this law will be necessary, and the deletion of article 41 from the Iraqi constitution.

We would like to explain the reasons behind raising this demand:
  • The Personal Status Law 188/1959 is built on an advanced reading of the Islamic Sharia.
  • This law unifies all Iraqis.
  • Affirming this law is a step towards implementing the National Reconciliation project and establishing national unity. Furthermore, it promotes the principle of a citizenship far from sectarian or doctrinal divisions.
  • This law is considered a legislative achievement for all Iraqis. It came into being in 1959, one and a half years after the change of Iraq from a Kingdom to a Republic on July 14, 1958. Strenuous efforts, both religious and legal, were made in the drafting of this law. It was the result of hard work by judges, other experts who further refined it, and the Iraqi women’s movement who pressed for its existence. Is it really possible to return the Iraqi family to the period before 1959 and to the state of no law?
  • The main goal of the efforts that made law 188 (1959) a reality was to settle the regulation of domestic life and to put an end to the confusion that happened because there was no unified law to organize this aspect of life. Most Iraqi families have been and are still built on mixed marriages between different sects. For this reason, the country is in real need of a law that organizes personal status.
  • Affirming the Personal Status Law is in accordance with the new direction of Iraq towards a democratic style of life where its people, encouraged by obtaining rights that ensure their humanity and dignity, play their proper role and participate in society.
Respected Ladies and Gentlemen.

We are certain of your desire to perform your historic mission honestly and with deep vision, but we confirm our efforts to preserve our social unity and we support your efforts to achieve this politically.

God bless you for serving Iraq and its people
Alsalam Alaiqum Warahmat Allah Wabarakatuh

Organization calling for this campaign: Women in Leadership Institute
October 12, 2006
Women in Leadership Institute