The Latest Good News for Iraqi Christians is The New Constitution

Baghdad, March 5 : In a country that has witnessed a series of bloodsheds and violence, no news is good
news, except the new constitution. Iraqi Christians will be the first to enjoy religous freedom unlike their counterparts in any other Arab countries once the draft of the constitution which is waiting to be approved by the the Governign Council with an authenticated signatures is done without any more alteration.

A new Constitution promised the Bill of Rights with a well defined protections for women, religious groups
and ethnic minirities - the first of its kind the Arab World. It was supposed to be finally signed by the 25-members of Iraqi Governing Council on Friday, the 5th March, - as a part of a temporary constitution which takes effect when the U.S-led power in Iraq formally ends on June 30, 2004. But the signing of the Constitution has been delayed due to 5 members of the- Governing Council who belong to Shia community including the head of the 13 Shias representative in the Council.

Under the interim constitution approved on the 1st March, Iraq will be a federalist state with two official languages, a Prime Minister who runs the country's daily affairs and a President who can launch a war - but only with the approval of Parliament.

The new constitution of Iraq has been described as one of the most liberal in the region. It will have 25%
women representation in the parliament, which is even more progressive than those in many democratic countries including the United States.

"We won the battle against dictatorship, and today, we took the first step on the path of freedom and democracy," said Younadem Kana, who was chosen to represent Iraq's 1 million-member Christian community and was the only non-Muslim member of the council.

The document, known as the "fundamental law," is to serve as an interim constitution until an elected
legislature is in place and able to write a permanent one.

The highlight of the Fundamental law includes:

* A bill of rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly, religion and due process.
* It enshrines Islam as the state religion, but not the sole basis for law.

* A call for a legislature with at least 25 percent women, not with direct quotas, but by requiring undefined future legislation that would make the 25 percent goal a tough target to miss.
* A ban on any measure that is contrary to Islam.

Nationwide elections to select an Iraqi national assembly are supposed to take place before Feb. 1, 2005. Later in 2005, Iraqis are expected to vote on a permanent constitution drawn up by the national assembly.

The new constitution is a very much welcome change for Iraqi Christians, who have been late victim of
violence and atrocities, who have received serious threatening letters and phone calls by militants in Iraq; but the applications of the written law is yet to be seen in reality.