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Monday, March 01, 2004

Shi'ite moderation 

An aide to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shi'ite cleric in Iraq, has some welcome words about the future:

"We don't want to put pressure on the people. Everyone was born free," Seyed Ali Abdul-Karim al-Safi al-Musawi, al-Sistani's representative in Basra, told The Associated Press. "Personally I would like an Islamic state, but it should only come about if the people vote for it."

But, even if the majority of Iraq's people sought such a state, it wouldn't mean the repression of minority beliefs.

"People must be free to do what they want," including consuming alcohol or women not wearing a veil, al-Safi said, adding that al-Sistani agreed.
Good. That should reduce fears that Iraq could become another Iran. After yesterday's interim constitution agreement and this interview with al-Safi, that outcome is looking pretty unlikely.

And I like the way this guy thinks:

"We Shiites are different from others when it comes to elections," he said. "We study a person for years, sometimes 40 years. People choose him because he is honest, he doesn't lie. But if he says 'elect me,' we don't."
If Iraqi Shi'ite politics is half as ego-free as al-Safi makes it out to be, that's really something.
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