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In a closed door meeting late last year, the Iraqi Governing Council narrowly passed a resolution to use Sharia'ah, or Islamic law, in place of the family laws instituted under Saddam Hussein. The old laws were among the most liberal in the Middle East, and now Iraq's women, along with other groups are loudly protesting the introduction of Shari'ah.

The Washington Post is reporting in a story being picked up around the country that "outraged Iraqi women—from judges to cabinet ministers—denounced the decision in street protests and at conferences, saying it would set back their legal status by centuries and could unleash emotional clashes among various Islamic strains that have differing rules for marriage, divorce and other family issues."

The decision, which must be approved by Chief U.S. Administrator in Iraq L. Paul Bremer, is not likely to become law while the U.S. is rebuilding the country. However, once power is returned to Iraq in June, the conservative Shiites who passed the resolution, may simply try again.

Yesterday, CTreported the Afghanistan constitution, which originally had references to Shari'ah, may be seen as a model for Iraq. Experts said the final version of the Afghan constitution had deleted references to Shari'ah due in large part to U.S. pressure.

Also, Hume Horan, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a senior Coalition Provisional Authority adviser on religious affairs, in an interview with PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly said he does not believe an Iranian-style Islamic state is in the works for Iraq.

This is not the image or model which appeals to average Shia. There are quite a few Shia I have met who are moderate and observing, who are somewhat secular, who say, "I want some ...
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Will Iraq Turn to Shari'ah?
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January 2004

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