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July 14, 2005
Sunnis Campaign For Democracy, Participation

After seeing themselves politically marginalized for boycotting what turned out to be hugely popular elections, Iraq's Sunni leaders have now begun to urge their communities to take part in the electoral process:

In mosques, conferences and on the street, some Sunni Arab leaders are rallying members of their once dominant community to join forces and participate in upcoming elections in a bid to find their place in the new Iraq. ...

"Boycotting the last elections ... deprived the people of opportunities," said Sheik Adul Jabbar Qadri, preacher at the Fattah mosque in the largely Sunni town of Beiji. "Now everyone feels this was a mistake and that all Iraqis should participate."

Qadri has been using his weekly Friday sermons to encourage Sunnis to cast ballots. "We also urged them to put their differences aside and to keep away from violence," he said.

Qadri said a recent meeting in Beiji brought together tribal sheiks, clerics and local dignitaries to support calls for contesting the votes.

Laith al-Sumaidei, who owns a media production company in Beiji, said his firm was designing posters to encourage a Sunni turnout. One of them shows Iraqis from different ethnic and religious groups, holding ballots that read: "Yes to freedom" and "Yes to democracy."

The Sunnis continue to discover that their Kurdish and Shi'ite countrymen have almost fully embraced democracy as the shared future of Iraq, and that the so-called insurgency has not dented their enthusiasm for self-rule. Their ability to carve out even a representative role for the minority Sunnis, who once dominated Iraq under Saddam, was severely hampered by their ill-chosen strategy of instransigence in January. Not only did they wind up with an abnormally small contingent in the Assembly to look after their interests, but they made themselves into an easy scapegoat for all that remains wrong in Iraqi life, including what many saw as a tacit (and not-so-tacit) endorsement of terrorist attacks that mostly kill Iraqis these days.

They managed to get better representation for themselves than they deserved at the constitutional convention, mostly because Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has enough political skills to understand that the Sunnis have to take some ownership of its final outcome. That requires the Sunnis to start supporting democracy as the future for Iraqi political expression. This shows them taking the first steps towards a broad-based endorsement of freedom and self-government.

This will severely undermine the terrorists who have kept the Sunnis believing that they could once again achieve supremacy through bombs and bullets in Iraq. Most of Iraq has turned against the foreigners of the Zarqawi/al-Qaeda network. If the Sunnis pack it in, the country will demand an end to the insurgency, and Zarqawi's lunatics will shortly run out of places to hide.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 14, 2005 5:54 AM

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Finally a rational fatwa Baghdad, 14 July (AKI) - A prominent Iraqi Sunni leader has said that Sunni leaders will soon issue a fatwa, or religious edict, urging members of their community to participate in the drafting of Iraq's new constitution. ... [Read More]

Tracked on July 14, 2005 10:03 AM

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