Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Rafsanjani and the ruling Ayatollahs cannot be happy hearing this.

Iraqi Shiite clerics heading home from exile in neighboring Iran vowed Monday to preach liberal Islam on their return and not to impose the conservative practices of Iran.

The diverse composition of Iraq's Muslim population won't allow the development of an Iranian-style theocracy, where unelected clerics wield ultimate power, prominent Shiite cleric Ayatollah Fazel al-Maleki said.

"We will not follow the Taliban brand nor the Iranian model of Islam," al-Maleki said in Iran's holy city of Qom, 80 miles south of Tehran.

"People of Iraq are different. Although a majority of them are Shiites, they will not accept a political structure similar to Iran when the supreme leader has final say on all state matters."

Al-Maleki is a founder of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the largest Shiite anti-Saddam group. He and many other Iraqi clerics fled their country to escape Saddam Hussein's crackdowns on Shiite leaders.

Last month, Washington accused Tehran of sending operatives into Iraq to promote an Iranian-style theocracy. Iran denied the charges.

Al-Maleki also played down such concerns.

"When we return home, we will propagate a liberal interpretation of Islam that supports a multiparty system and allows opposition groups to freely operate," he told The Associated Press.

Al-Maleki also said thousands of Iraqi Shiite clerics who studied in Iran are going home to continue their religious studies.

"I'm happy that I'm returning home. Under Saddam, there was no freedom. Now, we are free. I'm going as an open-minded cleric to promote peace and freedom in Iraq," 23-year-old cleric Abu Ahmad Al-Nazif said.

Another young cleric, Mohammad al-Solouki, said theocracy will not be imposed on Iraqis unless they vote for it.

"There was despotism under Saddam. Iraqis now need freedom. The type of government will be decided through direct vote of all Iraqis," he said.

He also offers a warning, of sorts, for the US.

"U.S.-led forces made Iraqis happy to overthrow Saddam," he said. "Now, they should not make that victory bitter through overstaying in Iraq."

He added: "We offer the Americans dialogue to negotiate their respectful departure. But if they refuse to leave Iraq, then armed Iraqi tribesmen will kick them out."

He must accept that we will not leave until we are sure that Iraq has started down a path toward proper freedom. To leave too early would be a bad idea for all involved. Except, of course, those who hope to turn a weak Iraq into their own private playground.

I agree that there should be a continuing dialogue and cooperation and that when the time is right we must not refuse to leave but, that time is not right now nor will it be in the immediate future.

< email | 5/06/2003 03:20:00 PM | link

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