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Reader comment on item: After Regime Collapse in Iraq

Submitted by Fay Voshell (United States), Apr 13, 2003 at 14:22

I think it's critical to avoid the multilateral approach (UN; Arab League) recommended by Dr. Amin and instead to put in place an interim government comprised of members of coalition nations and Iraqi exiles. The combination of an Iraqi exile/coalition government will allow understanding of the indigenous culture while putting in place the necessary stability and order.

The advice and cooperation of Iraqi exiles (who also know other, responsible, anti-authoritarian citizens in Iraq) would help to avoid some of the egregious mistakes made in Muslim countries in former times. Ataturk, for instance made bad mistakes when from 1925 he had the Turkish Grand Assembly ban the fez, veils and beards. Pro and anti-fez rebellions went on as late as 1947. The internal unrest was put down with autocratic severity.

Had Attaturk concentrated only on those issues absolutely central to democratic reform, such as universal franchise, free speech, and the development of democratic institutions, he would have faced far less antagonism.

In a similar manner, those who are to govern Iraq for the next several years would do also well to concentrate on the establishment of those goals most intrinsic to democracy while avoiding as much as is humanly possible challenges to deeply rooted cultural values and customs.

For example, Some Muslim women have themselves said they consider the custom of veiling as intrinsic to modesty. (Of course, as a Western woman, I find the idea repugnant.) But--and this is a very big "but"-- those same Muslim women wish with all their hearts to be educated and to be given the franchise. Education and the franchise are intrinsic to democratic reform. In turn, the veiling issue would, I think, gradually take care of itself.

In sum, it's a case of overlooking externals such as dress, food and customs while concentrating on creating the atmosphere and institutions that foster the freedom of the human spirit.

F Voshell

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