The "Declaration of the Shia of
Iraq" is the result of two years of discussions and
deliberations by a broad range of academics, professionals,
religious leaders, intellectuals, military personnel, tribal
leaders and businessmen, all of whom were joined by a common
concern for the welfare of Iraq in general and the Shia in
particular. The document is aimed at confronting the issue of
sectarianism and the anti-Shia biases of the Iraqi state. This
issue has been one of the great taboos of Iraq even though it
directly and detrimentally affects the lives of the majority of
The document strives to elucidate a Shia perspective on the
future of Iraq and the necessary changes that have to be
undertaken to reconstruct the state along lines of fairness and
justice. We believe that the decent and equitable society that all
Iraqis deserve cannot be established without dismantling the
entire apparatus of state sectarianism and the deliberate
disadvantaging of the majority community. The signatories believe
that Iraq can only be revivified if its future is based on the
three principles of democracy, federalism and community rights.
The Shia in Iraq have suffered from the deliberate targeting of
their community identity, institutions and leadership. In the last
two decades, the level of state repression has reached
unprecedented heights, with mass expulsions, expropriations,
destruction of schools and colleges, and wholesale murder and
assassinations of the Shia leadership. The situation that the Shia
face now is truly intolerable. Iraq is at a critical juncture in
its history. The tyranny that has been inflicted on Iraq will
pass, but the conditions that have allowed dictatorship to
flourish must be removed once and for all if we are not to fall
back into another form of misrule and oppression. What the Shia
want from the Iraqi state is therefore a genuine and legitimate
The "Declaration of the Shia of Iraq" aims to
answer this question.
A series of meetings were held in London during 2001 and 2002
to discuss the sectarian problem in Iraq and its effects on Iraq’s
present conditions and future. A broad range of personalities were
involved in these meetings ranging from intellectuals,
politicians, military personnel, writers, tribal chiefs,
academics, to businessmen and professionals, drawn from a wide
political spectrum, including islamists, nationalists, socialists
and liberals. These meetings were not constrained by any
particular ideological or organisational considerations, with the
participants being motivated primarily by a concern for the
national interests of Iraq. The ideas expressed at these meetings
were strictly those of the participants in their individual
capacities, even though a number of them were attached to specific
political groups or ideational currents.
The meetings had the important effect of facilitating the
formulation of commonly accepted parameters regarding the
sectarian problem in Iraq, and the methods that should be employed
to tackle this issue in any future restructuring of the political
order in the country. This document - Declaration
of the Shia of Iraq- is the result of these discussions and
1. The Genesis of the problem
Following the establishment of the constitutional entity that
became modern Iraq in 1923, and the organisation of its
administrative and political affairs, the sectarian paradigm
became a key organising principle of the governing powers. It then
quickly evolved into a set of fixed political rules of power and
control that has continued into present times.
A number of Iraq’s leading political figures were acutely
aware of the dangers of pursing a deliberate sectarian policy on
the part of the state and its deleterious effects on the country.
They introduced a number of political initiatives and programmes
that were designed to highlight and reverse the sectarian
framework of governmental policies, and to counter the hardening
of official sectarian discrimination against the Shia. The most
important of these initiatives would include:
detailed letter that King Faysal I addressed to his ministers in
1932, and in which he highlighted the injustice that has been
afflicted on the Shia and the critical importance of addressing
their concerns and sense of betrayal by the state.
letter that was addressed to the Iraqi Government by Sheikh
Muhammed Hussein Kashif al-Ghita in which he drew attention to the
discrimination that has been meted out to the Shia and the
necessity of removing its causes and manifestations.
initiative of the Shia religious authorities under the guidance of
the Imam Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim in the 1960’s that encompassed
representations to the authorities on the sectarian issue.
1964 letter of Sheikh Muhammed Ridha al-Shibibi that was addressed
to the then Prime Minister of Iraq, Abdul Rahman Al Bazzaz, and
which detailed the condition of the Shia and their grievances.
All of these initiatives shared a common concern that rejected
the sectarian bases of political power and authority in Iraq, and
its decidedly anti-Shia bias. These initiatives called for the
abandonment of these sectarian policies, the granting of full
political and civil rights to the Shia, and called for their
treatment within the framework of sound constitutional principles
based on a notion of citizenship that was inherently inclusive and
These initiatives also provided the catalyst for subsequent
activities in the fight against sectarianism that was joined by
writers, intellectuals and the ulema, all of whom called
for the dissolution of the sectarian structures of policy-making
and the confirmation of the Shia’s civil and political rights in
line with those of other groups in society.
However, none of these initiatives and activities met with
anything but total rejection by the state, which continued in its
sectarian biases irrespective of the damage that this caused, and
would continue to cause, to the fabric of society and its
integrity. The authorities simply ignored the catastrophic
consequences of these policies, which were to influence all Iraqis
regardless of their sectarian, ethnic or religious affiliations.
The Iraqi Shia problem is now a globally recognised fault line
and is no longer restricted to the confines of Iraq’s territory.
It has ceased to be a local issue, for the international community
and its organisations (such as Amnesty International, Human Rights
Watch, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Iraq) have now
acknowledged openly the existence of a serious sectarian problem
in Iraq, and have expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the
plight of the Shia of Iraq and the sectarian biases that they
daily encounter from the authorities.
The sectarian issue has now emerged into the light of day in
spite of the Iraqi authorities’ attempts, through their
political and media apparatuses, to cover up its reality. The
rights of the Shia are now an issue that is central to the present
and future conditions of Iraq, and must now be included in any
plan or programme that tries to tackle the reconstruction of the
Iraqi state. It is for the very reason of its criticality that a
calm and reasoned debate is now called for to discuss the rights
and demands of the Shia.
This declaration draws on the long line of similar efforts made
in the past by the leaders of the Shia in Iraq. It follows closely
on their path of calling, responsibly and persistently, for the
legitimate rights that are due the Shia, and in a manner that
reflects properly the views of the Iraqi Shia as a whole. This is
especially relevant today where the Shia in Iraq do not have an
authoritative leadership that can tackle the issues and problems
that concern them, not least their political, cultural and civil
2. Who are the Shia?
A dictionary definition of the Shia would be those who claim a
historic loyalty to the Household of the Prophet and their school
of Islam. In the context of Iraq however, the Shii is any person
who belongs to the Jaafari sect of Islam either by birth or
choice. The Shia in Iraq are not an ethnic group nor a race nor
nation, but rather, can comprise any social combination that
believes that its Shia fealty has led it to suffer from persistent
sectarian disadvantage over the centuries.
The policies of discrimination against the Shia of Iraq have
caused every Shii to believe that he or she is targeted because of
their Shiism and for no other reason. The Shii is treated as a
second-class citizen almost from birth, and is deliberately
distanced from any major position of authority or responsibility.
He or she suffers from an in-built preference given to others even
though others are less skilled or qualified.
This sectarian pattern has been employed in Iraq over the
centuries. The Shia were frequently the objects of the retribution
and oppression of the authorities simply because of sectarian
considerations, even though the intensity and frequency of the
anti-Shia activities of the authorities might have ebbed and
flowed. However, the oppression has been ratcheted up drastically
over the past twenty years.
The determination of the authorities to implement these
policies and their insistence on the continuing isolation of the
Shia from any meaningful exercise of power has contributed, in the
modern period, to the transformation of the Iraqi Shia into a
recognisable social entity with its own peculiarities, far from
any specific ideological and religious considerations. In other
words the crystallisation of the Shia as a distinct group owes far
more to the policies of discrimination and retribution than to any
specifically sectarian or religious considerations. This condition
now defines the status of the Shia in Iraq irrespective of the
individual Shii’s doctrinal, religious or political
3. The Shia and the modern
The Shia’s disillusioning experience with the circumstances
that underpinned the formation of the first Iraqi government in
1920 was the defining historical factor in their political
evolution. This statement can be amply justified by any number of
impartial historical studies. The Iraqi state was designed within
clear sectarian boundaries, with the intention of distancing the
Shia and their leadership from the decision-making structures of
the nascent state. And even though the sectarian principles of
power and authority were not explicitly set out in the original
basic law of the country, they became the unwritten code for
generations of politicians in both monarchical and republican
This is painfully ironic in as much as the Shia played a
pivotal role in establishing the conditions for an independent
Iraq, being the main actors in the Iraqi Uprising of 1920. The
subsequent gross diminution of the position of the Shia in the
Iraqi state cannot be reconciled in any way therefore with the
importance that their leaders had in the struggle against foreign
rule. The connivance of the foreign controlling power in the
establishment of sectarian bases of political power set the stage
for the evolution of the sectarian system that has continued to
the present day.
authorities’ objectives in pursuing sectarianism
The British occupation of Iraq was met by rejection from a
united front between the Shia and Sunni populations of Iraq. Both
groups were unanimous in refusing the occupation and insistent on
the formation of a national government free of foreign control.
This unity was further strengthened by the rejection of the two
communities of all the projects and programmes advanced by the
occupying administration to reconcile them to their condition,
culminating in the common positions adopted by them in their
support for the 1920 Uprising. However, Britain succeeded in
dividing the two communities when it proposed the formation of an
Iraqi government that was based on sectarian principles and
advantage, and this became the model, which was followed
scrupulously by subsequent governments.
The powers that controlled the Iraqi state strove to convince
the Sunnis of Iraq that all the emblems and trappings of power,
both civil and military, were the lot of heir community by right,
and that any serious Shia involvement in the government would be
at the expense of their controlling share of power. The
authorities, both in monarchical and republican Iraq, succeeded
therefore in both the weakening of any potential or real
inter-sectarian solidarity as well as in marginalizing the role of
the Shia. The raising of any specifically Shia demand for redress
became the subject of vitriolic accusations of
"sectarianism" by the authorities, even though the Shia
were the prime victims of the state’s sectarianism. Patriotism
and national unity became appropriated by the state as a cover for
this sectarian reality.
The famous dictum of Iraq’s first prime minister, Abd
el-Rahman an-Naqib, addressed to the Shia leadership who were
advocating the rejection of the Mandate terms:
" I am the owner (governor) of this land, so what do you
(the Shia) have to do with it?"
is an accurate gauge of the political direction that Iraq
was to take. The principle of rejecting serious Shia participation
in the state became the dominant recurring theme of the governing
authorities. Sunnis were to rule by their vigilant control over
the main sources of civil, military and social power, while the
Shia majority were to be marginalized and isolated. In this way,
the Shia’s numerical majority in Iraq would be overridden by the
deliberate policies of sectarian preference and discrimination,
and if need be, oppression.
This has been the basis of Iraq’s political life, with the
state actively waging war against the Shia’s sense of identity,
self-confidence and purpose. Violent propaganda campaigns were
waged against the Shia and their beliefs, while the state never
ceased to remind the Sunnis of the Shia menace and the threat that
the Shia posed to their rights and privileges and to their
superior social and political status.
The authorities never relented in their discriminatory policies
against the Shia.Each new ruler in Iraq found himself confronted
with the inchoate anger of the Shia, to which the classic response
was to deflect and defuse that threat by a further reduction of
the Shia’s presence and role. This constant increase in the
level and extent of discrimination and state violence against the
Shia has made an explosion inevitable.
This relentless increase of sectarian discrimination against
the Shia has culminated in the present ruling powers aggressively
working towards the elimination of any aspect of Shii public life,
within a calculated plan to destroy the institutions of the Shia
and thereby weaken and eliminate their communal underpinnings.
Shia schools and institutions of higher learning, such as the Fiqh
(Jurisprudence) College in Najaf and the College of Religious
Sciences in Baghdad, were closed as was the cancellation of the
Shia-inspired and backed but broadly non-religious University of
Kufa. Shia merchants and businessmen were deported in
droves, mainly to destroy the economic and commercial vitality of
the Shia. The violence perpetrated against the Shia ulema and
study circles has been unprecedented, driving the Shia
specifically, and the country generally, into an extremely
dangerous crisis situation.
The nature of the Shia opposition
In spite of the fact that the Shia in Iraq subscribe to
numerous political and intellectual groupings, it is the islamist
movement that has acted as the main political drive for the Shia
at the present moment. The islamist current has been broadly
connected, by political commentators and analysts in the region
and internationally, with the aspirations of the Shia as a whole
.As such, the islamist movement has been seen as reflective of the
Shia’s views and aims, and in certain respects its proxy. To
some extent this is an inappropriate attribution as the islamist
parties in Iraq have an explicitly Islamic, rather than sectarian,
orientation. Moreover, the condition of the Shia in Iraq is such
that they can owe allegiances to a variety of political and
cultural currents that are not necessarily islamic in direction.
The Shia’s opposition to the state in Iraq is based on
political rather than sectarian considerations and has evolved as
a consequence of a prolonged process of continuing sectarian
discrimination and cruel oppression by the state.
The politics of sectarianism
In spite of the long-standing nature of the policies of
sectarian discrimination, Iraq has not witnessed social
discrimination in terms of one community, the Sunnis, consciously
oppressing another, the Shia. The discrimination with which the
Shia have been afflicted is entirely the work of the state. This
is a vital point to ponder, as the crises with which Iraq had to
contend are a consequence of official rather than communal
discrimination. Any programme that hopes to reconstruct the terms
of power in Iraq has to start from the point of officially
inspired discrimination and not mutual communal hostility.
It is crucial to differentiate between legitimate sectarian
differences due to doctrinal and other factors, and a policy of
officially sanctioned sectarian advantage and discrimination. Iraq
suffers from a sectarian system and not from communal sectarianism
per se. There is no overt problem between Iraq’s sectarian
communities, but rather the opposite is the case, as Iraq has
managed to accommodate, at the social level, the differences
between its ethnic and sectarian groups. A relatively high degree
of harmony has prevailed between the Sunnis and the Shia, in many
ways superior to the conditions prevailing in most multi-ethnic
and multi-sectarian countries. The struggle for national
sovereignty and independence was joined equally by both the Sunnis
and the Shia, at the level of their respective leaderships and
right down to the community rank and file. Most of the national
parties had a broad base of sectarian representation, and
sectarian considerations did not dominate the response to key
issues and moments that affected the destiny of the country.
The Shia’s main driving forces in their struggle for national
independence and the building of the modern Iraqi state, were the
rejection of foreign hegemony over Iraq and the insistence on
sovereign independence. By acceding to the granting of the crown
of Iraq to one of Sharif Hussain’s sons, Faysal, the Shia
clearly indicated their willingness to transcend purely sectarian
considerations when dealing with vital national issues, even
though it could have been possible for them to demand a Shia king,
given their relative weight in Iraq’s social and political
landscape at that time. It is quite possible that the kingship of
Faysal would not have materialised if the Shia religious and
political leadership had vigorously opposed to it.
Iraq’s political crisis has nothing to do with either social
discrimination or a latent Shia sense of inferiority towards the
Sunnis, or vice versa. It is entirely due to the conduct of an
overtly sectarian authority determined to pursue a policy of
discrimination solely for its own interests of control, a policy
that has ultimately led to the total absence of political and
cultural liberties and the worse forms of dictatorship. It is not
possible for Iraq to emerge out of this cul-de-sac without the
complete banishment of official sectarianism from any future
political construct, and its replacement by a contract premised on
a broad and patriotic definition of citizenship that is far
removed from sectarian calculations and divisions.
Any policy that calls for the official adoption of the division
of powers on the basis of overt sectarian percentages- such as the
situation in Lebanon- cannot be workable in the context of Iraq,
given its social and historical experience, and will not resolve
the current impasse. It is quite probable that such a solution may
well result in further problems, dilemmas and crises being laid in
store for the country. The only way out of this conundrum is the
total rejection of the anti-Shia practices of the state, and the
adoption of an inclusive and equitable system of rule that would
define the political direction of the future Iraq. This is what
the Shia want and not some bogus solution based on the division of
the spoils according to demographic formulae, a condition that
would very probably result in communal sectarianism becoming a
social and political reality rather than a manifestation of an
unscrupulous state authority.
The airing in public of the sectarian issues facing Iraq does
not subject Iraq’s unity to any serious threat. It is intended
to confront the problem directly, in order to correctly define its
nature and to proffer solutions that would lead to its
elimination. Ignoring the problem, or sweeping it under the carpet
because of some ill-defined "threat" to national unity
only compounds the issue and is an affront to the memory of the
untold multitudes that have perished or suffered hardships and
indignities because of their sectarian identity and allegiances.
There is the unavoidable reality that there are two sects in
Iraq, a fact which it would be foolish to deny or ignore. The
imposition of an enforced and artificial homogeneity on this
reality only serves to compound the problem and pushes it to the
point where an explosion becomes inevitable. The recognition and
even celebration of Iraq’s sectarian diversity is an important
platform in reconstructing the terms of dialogue between the state
and the people, and by confirming the civil and religious rights
of all the sects and groups in Iraq, the ground is strengthened
for enhancing the sense of unity and patriotism in the country.
The sectarian issue in Iraq will not be solved by the
imposition of a vengeful Shia sectarianism on the state and
society. It can only be tackled by defining its nature and
boundaries and formulating a complete national programme for its
resolution. At the same time, the imperative of national unity
should not be used as a pretext to avoid the necessity of
dismantling the sectarian state and its harmful policies.
Sectarian differences and sectarian discrimination
The distinction between the existence of sectarian differences
and sectarian discrimination as such, must be established clearly.
The state has masked its exploitation of the existence of
sectarian differences in order to pursue its policy of sectarian
The sectarian differences within Islam can be traced to the
dawn of the Islamic era. Iraq’s Muslim population is divided
between Sunnis and Shia and there should be no harm or fear about
acknowledging this fact. The sects have co-existed by and large
for generations with no serious sectarian crises resulting in
consequence. Sectarian differences do not constitute a social,
intellectual or political issue in the Iraqi context, and
sectarian affiliations should be a matter of course.
The real issue is official sectarianism rather than sectarian
differences. Or in other words, the exploitation of the
differences between the sects for the purpose of discriminating
between them in order to promote a specific policy of power and
control. It is this deliberate policy of enshrining sectarian
differences to promote discriminatory and retrograde policies that
has been used to strip the Shia of their political and civil
rights and to reduce them to the status of second-class citizens.
The label of "Shia" has been sufficient cause to remove
the ordinary Shii from any consideration of positions of power and
authority irrespective of his qualities and competences, and in
spite of his political affiliations. To be a Shia in Iraq is to be
condemned to a lifetime of powerlessness, fear, anxiety and
The absence of any noticeable Shia representation in the upper
reaches of state and power is clearly evident and
incontrovertible, as is the manifest discrimination employed
against them. The reconstruction of Iraq’s state and society
requires therefore a deep understanding of what the Shia actually
want from their state, starting from the abolition of official
discrimination and the return to them of their civil and
constitutional rights from which they have been deprived for
Civil and political rights must be guaranteed through the
development of a body of laws and institutions that guard against
sectarian discrimination. These should also aim to remove all
traces of sectarian practices in Iraq and would be empowered with
the authority to enforce these new policies. Sectarian loyalties
that unite peoples who share a common heritage and history are a
natural occurrence and each person should be free to declare his
sectarian affinities without fear or anxiety. But this should not
result in the enshrining of sectarianism as a policy or as a basis
for political action.
The Shia of Iraq and national unity
The lessons drawn from Iraq’s history are clear- the Shia
have at no point sought to establish their own state or unique
political entity. Rather, whenever the opportunity was afforded to
them, they participated enthusiastically in nation-wide political
movements and organisations, ever conscious of the need to
maintain national unity and probably more so than other groups
inside Iraq. This can be abundantly established by examining the
Shia’s involvement in the struggle to establish the independent
Iraqi state within its current recognised borders. The Shia, both
in their islamist and non-islamist manifestations, have avoided
being dragged into separatist schemes, and have been steadfast in
their commitment to the unitary Iraqi state. The vital support
that they gave to the claims of the Sharifian candidate to the
Iraqi throne, in addition to the general sympathy that was
exhibited to the cause of the Sharifs of Mecca after the Great
War, was symptomatic of their patriotism.
This historic position of the Shia in favour of the unitary
constitutional Iraqi state was not given its due measure,
unfortunately, by successive Iraqi governments. In fact, the Shia
role in safeguarding the unity of Iraq was constantly belittled
and frequently ignored. The earliest political parties and
movements in which the Shia were involved, were clear in their
platforms and programmes of an absolute commitment to an
independent and constitutional state stretching from the Province
of Mosul in the north to the Province of Basra in the south. The
slogan, "An Arab Islamic Government", that
was demanded by the Shia leadership in the referendum of 1919 is
the incontrovertible evidence of the commitment of the Shia to an
Arab/Muslim form of rule for Iraq, and the rejection of any status
not commensurate with full political independence for the country.
This position of the Shia remained firm in spite of their
oppression and discrimination at the hands of successive
governments. The expulsion of Sheikh Mahdi al-Khalisi to Iran by
the government of Muhsin as-Saadoun, in blithe disregard of the
role that he played in securing popular approval for the demand
for national sovereignty and independence, was one of the first
manifestations of the policy of official anti-Shiism in action.
But the constant harassments and threats that the Shia leadership
were subjected to in the early days of independence did not
deflect them from their commitment to the Iraqi state.
Even as we are in the midst of the present explosive situation,
where state anti-Shiism has reached unprecedented levels of
violence, the Shia have not raised the banner of withdrawal from
the body politic of Iraq. The insistence on national unity as a
clear starting principle has been the common denominator for all
the active Iraqi Shia oppositionists, as has been the recognition
that the problems arising from the atrocious misgovernment of the
multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian state that is Iraq, could best be
resolved in the context of a single Iraqi state.
The Shia of Iraq, in spite of being constantly and maliciously
tested as to the depth of their national loyalty, have proven,
time and again, their commitment to Iraq even at the expense of
their own sectarian interests. Their call for the restitution of
their civil and political rights can in no way be seen as a threat
to national unity, when they have indisputably proven that they
have been its principal protectors in word and in deed.
What do the Shia want?
The demands of the Shia can be succinctly summarised as
1. The abolition of dictatorship and its replacement with
2. The abolition of ethnic discrimination and its replacement
with a federal structure for Kurdistan
3. The abolition of the policy of discrimination against the
The Declaration of the Shia of Iraq aims
to elaborate on a Shia perspective on the political future of Iraq
.Its principal points are as follows:
1. Abolition of ethnic and sectarian discrimination, and the
elimination of the effects of these erroneous policies
2. The establishment of a democratic parliamentary
constitutional order, that carefully avoids the hegemony of one
sect or ethnic group over the others
3. The consolidation of the principles of a single citizenship
for all Iraqis, a common citizenship being the basic guarantor of
4. Full respect for the national, ethnic, religious, and
sectarian identities of all Iraqis, and the inculcation of the
ideals of true citizenship amongst all of Iraq’s communities.
5. Confirmation of the unitary nature of the Iraqi state and
people, within the parameters of diversity and pluralism in Iraq’s
ethnic, religious and sectarian identities.
6. Reconstruction of, and support for, the main elements of a
civil society and its community bases.
7. Adoption of the structures of a federal state that would
include a high degree of decentralisation and devolution of powers
to elected provincial authorities and assemblies.
8. Full respect for the principles of universal human rights.
9. Protection of the Islamic identity of Iraqi society.
Dictatorship has been one of the main factors that have
buttressed the structures of official sectarian and ethnic
discrimination, and constitutional democracy, operating through
vital and effective institutions, is the necessary cure for this
virulent ailment. The Shia do not want to solve their sectarian
problems by creating an analogous one for other groups. Rather,
they are seeking redress through a system that would guard the
rights of all the constituent elements of Iraq’s society,
whereby all will be treated on an equal footing.
One of the key elements of the Iraqi conundrum is the near
exclusive concentration of powers in the capital, Baghdad, in a
manner that has robbed the outlying regions of any opportunity to
address their local concerns, needs and special conditions and
particularities. The solution has to be in the devolution of
powers and authorities to these areas within a framework of broad
Federalism as a system would be designed to negotiate between
the need to have a central authority with effective but not
hegemonic powers, and regions that enjoy a high order of
decentralised powers, all within a framework of careful
delineation of rights and responsibilities as between the centre
and the regions. Ideally, a federal system would also legislate
for the maintenance of Iraq’s unitary nature, but recognises the
need to fully accommodate Iraq’s diversity.
Iraq’s federal structure would not be based on a sectarian
division but rather on administrative and demographic criteria.
This would avoid the formation of sectarian-based entities that
could be the prelude for partition or separation.
The proposed federal system would grant considerable powers to
the regions, including legislative, fiscal, judicial and executive
powers, thereby removing the possibility of the centre falling
under the control of a dominant group which would extend its
hegemony over the entire country. Iraq’s federalist structures
would benefit greatly from the experience of countries that have
adopted this system of government successfully.
Thirdly: Abolition of the policies of sectarianism
The Declaration of the Shia of Iraq
envisages the elimination of official sectarianism through the
adoption of specific political and civil rights that would
eliminate the disadvantage of the Shia.
A/ Political Rights:
In order to eliminate the accumulation of sectarian policies
and codes of conduct employed by the authorities over decades, it
would be necessary to examine the administrative structures of the
Iraqi state and its civil and military institutions. In
particular, the employment and promotion policies that have been
pursued in the past must be remedied by policies that stress
merit, effectiveness and competence as the basis for all
employment. A federal authority with a remit to combat
sectarianism would be established, which would examine closely the
principles employed for filling all senior governmental posts, and
which would be charged also with adjudicating all complaints and
cases of sectarianism. The federal authority’s mandate could be
extended to include the combat of all forms of sectarianism in
official and private institutions.
A fund would be established to compensate all those who have
been harmed as a result of sectarian and ethnic discrimination and
policies. Such a fund would be administered by a council that
would establish the norms and procedures for evaluating the extent
of damages and the restitution due.
A set of laws would be introduced to abolish sectarianism and
that would criminalize sectarian conduct.
A new nationality law would be introduced that would be based
on a notion of citizenship that would emphasise loyalty to Iraq
rather than to any sectarian, national or religious affiliation.
B/ Civil Rights:
The key civil rights that have a special resonance for the Shia
1. Their right to practice their own religious rites and
rituals and to autonomously administer their own religious shrines
and institutions, through legitimate Shia religious authorities.
2. Full freedom to conduct their religious affairs in their own
mosques, meeting halls and other institutions.
3. Freedom to teach in their religious universities and
institutions with no interference by the central or provincial
4. Freedom of movement and travel and assembly on the part of
the higher Shia religious authorities, ulema and speakers,
and guarantees afforded to the teaching circles-the hawzas-
to conduct their affairs in a manner that they see fit.
5. Ensuring that the Shia’s religious shrines and cities are
entered into UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and are thus
protected from arbitrary acts of change and destruction.
6. Full freedoms to publish Shia tracts and books and to
establish Shia religious institutions and assemblies.
7. The right to establish independent schools, universities and
other teaching establishments and academies, within the framework
of a broad and consensual national education policy.
8. Introduction the elements of the Jafari creed and
rites into the national educational curriculum, in a manner
similar to the way in which other schools of Islamic jurisprudence
9. Revising the elements of the history curriculum to remove
all disparagement of the Shia, and the writing of an authentic
history that would remove any anti-Shia biases.
10. Freedom to establish Shia mosques, meeting halls and
11. Respect for the burial grounds of the Shia.
12. Official recognition by the state of the key dates of the
13 Repatriation of all Iraqis who were forcibly expelled
from Iraq, or who felt obliged to leave under duress, and the full
restitution of their constitutional and civil rights.
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