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Iraq's new constitution.

Iraq has taken another step toward democracy. On March 8, the country adopted a temporary constitution. The document, said Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, the President of Iraq's Governing Council, will ensure "a new, free, democratic Iraq that protects the dignity of the human being and protects human rights."

The new constitution opens the way for a transfer of power from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to full Iraqi control. The shift is scheduled for June 30.

But the constitution faces some challenges. The most serious comes from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the leader of Iraq's Shiite Muslims. Sistani has demanded a greater role for the Shiites, who make up more than half of Iraq's Muslim population. He has threatened to boycott the interim (temporary) government if the constitution is not changed.

The new constitution calls for the election of a National Assembly by January 31, 2005. The Assembly will draft a permanent constitution for Iraq.

An important part of the interim constitution is modeled after the U.S. Bill of Rights and guarantees freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Islam is named the official religion. But its influence in the making of laws is limited. The constitution also guarantees rights for women.

It has been nearly a year since U.S.-led forces overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein. Much progress has been made. But Iraq is still a dangerous place. Soldiers, aid workers, police officers, and Iraqis working with the CPA have been under constant fire. Said one U.S. commander after a recent rocket attack: "I think there are definitely people who are trying to stop the new Iraq from emerging."

OBJECTIVE

Students should understand

* Iraq's Governing Council recently approved an interim constitution that is partly modeled after the U.S. Bill of Rights.

TEACHING STRATEGY

Ask students: "What rights and freedoms would you include if you had to create a constitution?"

CRITICAL THINKING

CAUSE AND EFFECT: How will Iraq's interim constitution eventually lead to the creation of a democratic government? (The interim constitution calls for the election of a National Assembly by next January. This legislative body will be responsible for creating a permanent constitution.)

ACTIVITY

LETTER TO IRAQ: Instruct students to write a letter to Iraq's Governing Council suggesting provisions for the nation's permanent constitution.

SPECIAL REPORT ON IRAQ

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Title Annotation:International
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Apr 26, 2004
Words:389
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