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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
UK Iraqis' views on constitution
The new Iraqi constitution is yet to be agreed on, with Shia and Kurdish leaders satisfied with the text, but Sunni leaders reluctant to endorse it over fears it may split the country.

BBC News asked Iraqis living in the UK for their views on the constitution.

NOAMAN MUNA, IRAQI COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

"I am very disturbed that the constitution has been delayed and delayed and delayed," said Noaman Muna, vice-chairman of the association and also chairman of al-Alamal, a humanitarian organisation operating in Iraq.

Noaman Muna from Iraqi Community Association
Mr Muna was concerned at the sectarian content of the constitution

"I am also disturbed that there has been no consultation with the public, it has been very much behind closed doors.

"It is creating a religious state, and is very sectarian in its approach. I find this very disturbing - I want it to be less sectarian," he said.

"This is a constitution that apparently will set up a modern Iraq in line with developments internationally but, when compared with previous constitutions such as in the 1920s, it is going back on principles of creating a modern Iraq.

"In reading parts of the leaked constitution, there are a number of areas of concern and a lack of clarity, particularly when it comes to equality, particularly between men and women.

"I do not think it will be suitable for future generations in Iraq.

"I would certainly not vote for it if I had an opportunity to."

He declined to say whether he belonged to one of the three main groups in Iraq - Sunni, Shia or Kurd - instead saying: "I don't think it has anything to do with it. I am against the politicisation of religion."

SOUAD AL-JAZAIRY, IRAQI WOMEN'S LEAGUE

"We put a lot of hope into it, but now we feel let down by it," said Souad al-Jazairy, just back in London after spending time in Iraq where she joined women's groups in demonstrating against the constitution.

Women protest against the Iraqi constitution
Iraqi women have demonstrated against the constitution
She said that previous Iraqi governments had signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but the constitution no longer followed that international agreement.

"All Iraqi women are asking for equality, especially as under Saddam's regime we did not participate in political life or economic life.

"Maybe some women don't understand the constitution, but if you look deeply it is against women.

"We are not against Islam, but now in 2005 it is not fair that we live under Islamic law."

She said one reason for the delay was because of the issue of women's equality.

"I hope that the constitution can understand human rights and equality for women.

"It is not fair on women and I would not vote on it."

ADI HLAYAL, IRAQI WELFARE ASSOCIATION

A trustee at the Iraqi Welfare Association, Adi Hlayal, said it was "only natural" for such an important document to be delayed.

Iraqi flag
Adi Hlayal said it was not surprising that delays had occurred.

"Iraq has had a massive revolution, everything has been up-rooted, there was no constitution before so it's bound to take time. We don't want to do it in a rush.

"It's because of the security situation there that people want it to be done quickly."

He said most Iraqis in the UK, who are either Shia or Kurdish, "don't mind the constitution".

"We trust most of them [deciding the constitution in Iraq], we have faith in them. They will reflect the multi-ethnicity of the nation."

He said the concerns from the Sunni Iraqis should be listened to, as in a democracy every voice should be heard.

Sunnis have expressed concerns that allowing for federalism may lead to the creation of an autonomous Shia area in southern Iraq - like the Kurdish north but under Iran's influence.

"It won't divide the country. There is nothing wrong with federalism. Maybe we rushed too fast with the Kurds imposing federalism.

"The Iraqis in this country have seen the constitution and we believe in federalism and in distributing the wealth fairly," Mr Hlayal said.




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