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New Supreme Court Law Sparks Fears of ‘Religious State’ in Iraq

New Supreme Court Law Sparks Fears of ‘Religious State’ in Iraq

Monday, 17 June, 2019 - 08:00
A general view of cars at the Al-Shurja Market in Baghdad, Iraq April 10, 2019. (Reuters)
Baghdad - Fadhel al-Nashmi
The new Federal Supreme Court law stirred fears in Iraq over the possibility that religion could infringe on judicial affairs in the country.

The new law saw the introduction of four Islamic jurisprudence, or fiqh, figures to the 13-member court.

Objections soon arose over the possibility of Iraq transforming into a “religious state” given the sway that the four fiqh members hold. Fears were also voiced over the court taking the shape of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council of the System.

The 2015 version of the court law only included two fiqh members.

Among other duties, the Federal Supreme Court is tasked with overseeing the implementation of constitutional laws, interpreting the constitution and approving the final results of parliamentary elections.

Member of parliament’s legal council Saeb Khodr described the current draft law as “very dangerous.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said it was “inaccurate” to compare the court’s law to the Expediency Council in Iran, but he did question granting the four religious experts the right to vote on issues.

They should only be allowed to play a consultative role, he explained.

He revealed that several lawmakers have objected to the law and “it will be amended.”

No one has formally come forward to object to it, but a source confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the objections do exist.

The Federal Supreme Court’s website even released on its website the opinion of a legal expert, who warned that the parliament’s approval of the law in its current draft would transform Iraq into an Islamic country.

Judge Raheem al-Aikaly said that the law “was a stab in the heart of the civil state.”

“The draft law cements sectarian divisions and grants sectarian voices more power than legal authorities,” he warned to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The parties that are holding on to power control the way members of the court are appointed and they determine their jurisdiction. Each party wants to maintain as much influence as possible at the supreme court,” he added.

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