Report of the Symposium on Islam, Constitutions, & Durable Democracy: The Cases of Iraq & Afghanistan
September 11, 2007
The Report of the Symposium on Islam, Constitutions, & Durable Democracy is part of the Berkley Center’s Religious Literacy Series. It chronicles a symposium on the same topic that took place at Georgetown University on September 11, 2007. Participants in both the panel and publication include Robert P. George, Muqtedar Khan, Intisar Rabb, and William L. Saunders, Jr. The event was chaired by Thomas F. Farr, Senior Fellow, Berkley Center. The major question engaged by the symposium was the extent to which constitutions can encourage a democratic political culture, and do it under the difficult conditions that exist today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The panelists addressed these two case studies with specific attention to Islam, religious freedom, and the role of the judiciary, using the following guide questions:
1) Neither the Iraqi (IC) nor Afghan constitutions (AC) mention "shari'a". Both, however, have clauses that prohibit any law from being contrary to "the established provisions of Islam" (article 2, IC) or "the sacred religion of Islam" (article 3, AC ). To what extent are these prohibitions, in the context of other constitutional provisions, a barrier to liberal, consolidated democracy?
2) Both constitutions provide for some level of religious freedom. How effective are the respective guarantees, and how important is the issue of religious freedom for the consolidation of democracy in both Iraq and Afghanistan?
3) Are the respective judiciary powers created in these constitutions a source of democratic stability, or are they a potential liability for the consolidation of democracy?