Baghdad Patriarch Wary of Draft Constitution

BAGHDAD, Iraq, SEPT. 1, 2005 ( Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of Baghdad appealed to foreign countries to exert pressure for changes to Iraq’s draft constitution, especially because it aims to give prominence to Islamic law.

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«We are not very happy, although it represents a step forward for the country,» said the leader of the Church that represents 70% of the country’s 800,000 Christians, in reference to the draft constitution that must be put to referendum.

«We will have difficulties because of some articles present in the approved draft,» the patriarch said Thursday in statements to the Italian bishops’ SIR news agency.

In particular, the texts states that the Shariah, Islamic law, is the «sole source» of law in Iraq, and that no law can be contrary to the rules of Islam.

It could happen that «whoever wants to open an alcoholic-beverage store is denied a permit because it goes against Islamic law,» the patriarch said. «And, who will decide that this goes against Islam? Only a Muslim judge.

«I appeal to leaders of foreign powers and to the Holy See to exert pressure to amend these articles and to guarantee the rights of all.»

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