Declaration of the Shia of Iraq

Background note


1. The genesis of the problem

2. Who are the Shia?

3. The Shia and the modern Iraqi state

4. The authorities’ objectives in pursuing sectarianism

5. The nature of the Shia opposition

6. The politics of sectarianism

7. Sectarian differences and sectarian discrimination

8. The Shia of Iraq and national unity

9. What do the Shia want?


Annex1 References

Annex 2 List of signatories

Annex 3 Comments on the Declaration

Background note

July 2002

The "Declaration of the Shia of Iraq" is the result of two years of discussions and deliberations by a broad range of academics, professionals, religious leaders, intellectuals, military personnel, tribal leaders and businessmen, all of whom were joined by a common concern for the welfare of Iraq in general and the Shia in particular. The document is aimed at confronting the issue of sectarianism and the anti-Shia biases of the Iraqi state. This issue has been one of the great taboos of Iraq even though it directly and detrimentally affects the lives of the majority of Iraq’s population. 

The document strives to elucidate a Shia perspective on the future of Iraq and the necessary changes that have to be undertaken to reconstruct the state along lines of fairness and justice. We believe that the decent and equitable society that all Iraqis deserve cannot be established without dismantling the entire apparatus of state sectarianism and the deliberate disadvantaging of the majority community. The signatories believe that Iraq can only be revivified if its future is based on the three principles of democracy, federalism and community rights.

The Shia in Iraq have suffered from the deliberate targeting of their community identity, institutions and leadership. In the last two decades, the level of state repression has reached unprecedented heights, with mass expulsions, expropriations, destruction of schools and colleges, and wholesale murder and assassinations of the Shia leadership. The situation that the Shia face now is truly intolerable. Iraq is at a critical juncture in its history. The tyranny that has been inflicted on Iraq will pass, but the conditions that have allowed dictatorship to flourish must be removed once and for all if we are not to fall back into another form of misrule and oppression. What the Shia want from the Iraqi state is therefore a genuine and legitimate question.

The "Declaration of the Shia of Iraq" aims to answer this question.


A series of meetings were held in London during 2001 and 2002 to discuss the sectarian problem in Iraq and its effects on Iraq’s present conditions and future. A broad range of personalities were involved in these meetings ranging from intellectuals, politicians, military personnel, writers, tribal chiefs, academics, to businessmen and professionals, drawn from a wide political spectrum, including islamists, nationalists, socialists and liberals. These meetings were not constrained by any particular ideological or organisational considerations, with the participants being motivated primarily by a concern for the national interests of Iraq. The ideas expressed at these meetings were strictly those of the participants in their individual capacities, even though a number of them were attached to specific political groups or ideational currents.

The meetings had the important effect of facilitating the formulation of commonly accepted parameters regarding the sectarian problem in Iraq, and the methods that should be employed to tackle this issue in any future restructuring of the political order in the country. This document - Declaration of the Shia of Iraq- is the result of these discussions and deliberations.

1. The Genesis of the problem

Following the establishment of the constitutional entity that became modern Iraq in 1923, and the organisation of its administrative and political affairs, the sectarian paradigm became a key organising principle of the governing powers. It then quickly evolved into a set of fixed political rules of power and control that has continued into present times.

A number of Iraq’s leading political figures were acutely aware of the dangers of pursing a deliberate sectarian policy on the part of the state and its deleterious effects on the country. They introduced a number of political initiatives and programmes that were designed to highlight and reverse the sectarian framework of governmental policies, and to counter the hardening of official sectarian discrimination against the Shia. The most important of these initiatives would include:

  • The detailed letter that King Faysal I addressed to his ministers in 1932, and in which he highlighted the injustice that has been afflicted on the Shia and the critical importance of addressing their concerns and sense of betrayal by the state.

  • The letter that was addressed to the Iraqi Government by Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Kashif al-Ghita in which he drew attention to the discrimination that has been meted out to the Shia and the necessity of removing its causes and manifestations.

  • The initiative of the Shia religious authorities under the guidance of the Imam Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim in the 1960’s that encompassed representations to the authorities on the sectarian issue.

  • The 1964 letter of Sheikh Muhammed Ridha al-Shibibi that was addressed to the then Prime Minister of Iraq, Abdul Rahman Al Bazzaz, and which detailed the condition of the Shia and their grievances.

All of these initiatives shared a common concern that rejected the sectarian bases of political power and authority in Iraq, and its decidedly anti-Shia bias. These initiatives called for the abandonment of these sectarian policies, the granting of full political and civil rights to the Shia, and called for their treatment within the framework of sound constitutional principles based on a notion of citizenship that was inherently inclusive and fair.

These initiatives also provided the catalyst for subsequent activities in the fight against sectarianism that was joined by writers, intellectuals and the ulema, all of whom called for the dissolution of the sectarian structures of policy-making and the confirmation of the Shia’s civil and political rights in line with those of other groups in society.

However, none of these initiatives and activities met with anything but total rejection by the state, which continued in its sectarian biases irrespective of the damage that this caused, and would continue to cause, to the fabric of society and its integrity. The authorities simply ignored the catastrophic consequences of these policies, which were to influence all Iraqis regardless of their sectarian, ethnic or religious affiliations.

The Iraqi Shia problem is now a globally recognised fault line and is no longer restricted to the confines of Iraq’s territory. It has ceased to be a local issue, for the international community and its organisations (such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Iraq) have now acknowledged openly the existence of a serious sectarian problem in Iraq, and have expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the plight of the Shia of Iraq and the sectarian biases that they daily encounter from the authorities.

The sectarian issue has now emerged into the light of day in spite of the Iraqi authorities’ attempts, through their political and media apparatuses, to cover up its reality. The rights of the Shia are now an issue that is central to the present and future conditions of Iraq, and must now be included in any plan or programme that tries to tackle the reconstruction of the Iraqi state. It is for the very reason of its criticality that a calm and reasoned debate is now called for to discuss the rights and demands of the Shia.

This declaration draws on the long line of similar efforts made in the past by the leaders of the Shia in Iraq. It follows closely on their path of calling, responsibly and persistently, for the legitimate rights that are due the Shia, and in a manner that reflects properly the views of the Iraqi Shia as a whole. This is especially relevant today where the Shia in Iraq do not have an authoritative leadership that can tackle the issues and problems that concern them, not least their political, cultural and civil rights.

2. Who are the Shia?

A dictionary definition of the Shia would be those who claim a historic loyalty to the Household of the Prophet and their school of Islam. In the context of Iraq however, the Shii is any person who belongs to the Jaafari sect of Islam either by birth or choice. The Shia in Iraq are not an ethnic group nor a race nor nation, but rather, can comprise any social combination that believes that its Shia fealty has led it to suffer from persistent sectarian disadvantage over the centuries.

The policies of discrimination against the Shia of Iraq have caused every Shii to believe that he or she is targeted because of their Shiism and for no other reason. The Shii is treated as a second-class citizen almost from birth, and is deliberately distanced from any major position of authority or responsibility. He or she suffers from an in-built preference given to others even though others are less skilled or qualified.

This sectarian pattern has been employed in Iraq over the centuries. The Shia were frequently the objects of the retribution and oppression of the authorities simply because of sectarian considerations, even though the intensity and frequency of the anti-Shia activities of the authorities might have ebbed and flowed. However, the oppression has been ratcheted up drastically over the past twenty years.

The determination of the authorities to implement these policies and their insistence on the continuing isolation of the Shia from any meaningful exercise of power has contributed, in the modern period, to the transformation of the Iraqi Shia into a recognisable social entity with its own peculiarities, far from any specific ideological and religious considerations. In other words the crystallisation of the Shia as a distinct group owes far more to the policies of discrimination and retribution than to any specifically sectarian or religious considerations. This condition now defines the status of the Shia in Iraq irrespective of the individual Shii’s doctrinal, religious or political orientations.

3. The Shia and the modern Iraqi state

The Shia’s disillusioning experience with the circumstances that underpinned the formation of the first Iraqi government in 1920 was the defining historical factor in their political evolution. This statement can be amply justified by any number of impartial historical studies. The Iraqi state was designed within clear sectarian boundaries, with the intention of distancing the Shia and their leadership from the decision-making structures of the nascent state. And even though the sectarian principles of power and authority were not explicitly set out in the original basic law of the country, they became the unwritten code for generations of politicians in both monarchical and republican Iraq.

This is painfully ironic in as much as the Shia played a pivotal role in establishing the conditions for an independent Iraq, being the main actors in the Iraqi Uprising of 1920. The subsequent gross diminution of the position of the Shia in the Iraqi state cannot be reconciled in any way therefore with the importance that their leaders had in the struggle against foreign rule. The connivance of the foreign controlling power in the establishment of sectarian bases of political power set the stage for the evolution of the sectarian system that has continued to the present day.

4. The authorities’ objectives in pursuing sectarianism

The British occupation of Iraq was met by rejection from a united front between the Shia and Sunni populations of Iraq. Both groups were unanimous in refusing the occupation and insistent on the formation of a national government free of foreign control. This unity was further strengthened by the rejection of the two communities of all the projects and programmes advanced by the occupying administration to reconcile them to their condition, culminating in the common positions adopted by them in their support for the 1920 Uprising. However, Britain succeeded in dividing the two communities when it proposed the formation of an Iraqi government that was based on sectarian principles and advantage, and this became the model, which was followed scrupulously by subsequent governments.

The powers that controlled the Iraqi state strove to convince the Sunnis of Iraq that all the emblems and trappings of power, both civil and military, were the lot of heir community by right, and that any serious Shia involvement in the government would be at the expense of their controlling share of power. The authorities, both in monarchical and republican Iraq, succeeded therefore in both the weakening of any potential or real inter-sectarian solidarity as well as in marginalizing the role of the Shia. The raising of any specifically Shia demand for redress became the subject of vitriolic accusations of "sectarianism" by the authorities, even though the Shia were the prime victims of the state’s sectarianism. Patriotism and national unity became appropriated by the state as a cover for this sectarian reality.

The famous dictum of Iraq’s first prime minister, Abd el-Rahman an-Naqib, addressed to the Shia leadership who were advocating the rejection of the Mandate terms:

" I am the owner (governor) of this land, so what do you (the Shia) have to do with it?"

 is an accurate gauge of the political direction that Iraq was to take. The principle of rejecting serious Shia participation in the state became the dominant recurring theme of the governing authorities. Sunnis were to rule by their vigilant control over the main sources of civil, military and social power, while the Shia majority were to be marginalized and isolated. In this way, the Shia’s numerical majority in Iraq would be overridden by the deliberate policies of sectarian preference and discrimination, and if need be, oppression.

This has been the basis of Iraq’s political life, with the state actively waging war against the Shia’s sense of identity, self-confidence and purpose. Violent propaganda campaigns were waged against the Shia and their beliefs, while the state never ceased to remind the Sunnis of the Shia menace and the threat that the Shia posed to their rights and privileges and to their superior social and political status.

The authorities never relented in their discriminatory policies against the Shia.Each new ruler in Iraq found himself confronted with the inchoate anger of the Shia, to which the classic response was to deflect and defuse that threat by a further reduction of the Shia’s presence and role. This constant increase in the level and extent of discrimination and state violence against the Shia has made an explosion inevitable.

This relentless increase of sectarian discrimination against the Shia has culminated in the present ruling powers aggressively working towards the elimination of any aspect of Shii public life, within a calculated plan to destroy the institutions of the Shia and thereby weaken and eliminate their communal underpinnings. Shia schools and institutions of higher learning, such as the Fiqh(Jurisprudence) College in Najaf and the College of Religious Sciences in Baghdad, were closed as was the cancellation of the Shia-inspired and backed but broadly non-religious University of Kufa.  Shia merchants and businessmen were deported in droves, mainly to destroy the economic and commercial vitality of the Shia. The violence perpetrated against the Shia ulema and study circles has been unprecedented, driving the Shia specifically, and the country generally, into an extremely dangerous crisis situation.

5. The nature of the Shia opposition

In spite of the fact that the Shia in Iraq subscribe to numerous political and intellectual groupings, it is the islamist movement that has acted as the main political drive for the Shia at the present moment. The islamist current has been broadly connected, by political commentators and analysts in the region and internationally, with the aspirations of the Shia as a whole .As such, the islamist movement has been seen as reflective of the Shia’s views and aims, and in certain respects its proxy. To some extent this is an inappropriate attribution as the islamist parties in Iraq have an explicitly Islamic, rather than sectarian, orientation. Moreover, the condition of the Shia in Iraq is such that they can owe allegiances to a variety of political and cultural currents that are not necessarily islamic in direction.

The Shia’s opposition to the state in Iraq is based on political rather than sectarian considerations and has evolved as a consequence of a prolonged process of continuing sectarian discrimination and cruel oppression by the state.

6. The politics of sectarianism

In spite of the long-standing nature of the policies of sectarian discrimination, Iraq has not witnessed social discrimination in terms of one community, the Sunnis, consciously oppressing another, the Shia. The discrimination with which the Shia have been afflicted is entirely the work of the state. This is a vital point to ponder, as the crises with which Iraq had to contend are a consequence of official rather than communal discrimination. Any programme that hopes to reconstruct the terms of power in Iraq has to start from the point of officially inspired discrimination and not mutual communal hostility.

It is crucial to differentiate between legitimate sectarian differences due to doctrinal and other factors, and a policy of officially sanctioned sectarian advantage and discrimination. Iraq suffers from a sectarian system and not from communal sectarianism per se. There is no overt problem between Iraq’s sectarian communities, but rather the opposite is the case, as Iraq has managed to accommodate, at the social level, the differences between its ethnic and sectarian groups. A relatively high degree of harmony has prevailed between the Sunnis and the Shia, in many ways superior to the conditions prevailing in most multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian countries. The struggle for national sovereignty and independence was joined equally by both the Sunnis and the Shia, at the level of their respective leaderships and right down to the community rank and file. Most of the national parties had a broad base of sectarian representation, and sectarian considerations did not dominate the response to key issues and moments that affected the destiny of the country.

The Shia’s main driving forces in their struggle for national independence and the building of the modern Iraqi state, were the rejection of foreign hegemony over Iraq and the insistence on sovereign independence. By acceding to the granting of the crown of Iraq to one of Sharif Hussain’s sons, Faysal, the Shia clearly indicated their willingness to transcend purely sectarian considerations when dealing with vital national issues, even though it could have been possible for them to demand a Shia king, given their relative weight in Iraq’s social and political landscape at that time. It is quite possible that the kingship of Faysal would not have materialised if the Shia religious and political leadership had vigorously opposed to it.

Iraq’s political crisis has nothing to do with either social discrimination or a latent Shia sense of inferiority towards the Sunnis, or vice versa. It is entirely due to the conduct of an overtly sectarian authority determined to pursue a policy of discrimination solely for its own interests of control, a policy that has ultimately led to the total absence of political and cultural liberties and the worse forms of dictatorship. It is not possible for Iraq to emerge out of this cul-de-sac without the complete banishment of official sectarianism from any future political construct, and its replacement by a contract premised on a broad and patriotic definition of citizenship that is far removed from sectarian calculations and divisions.

Any policy that calls for the official adoption of the division of powers on the basis of overt sectarian percentages- such as the situation in Lebanon- cannot be workable in the context of Iraq, given its social and historical experience, and will not resolve the current impasse. It is quite probable that such a solution may well result in further problems, dilemmas and crises being laid in store for the country. The only way out of this conundrum is the total rejection of the anti-Shia practices of the state, and the adoption of an inclusive and equitable system of rule that would define the political direction of the future Iraq. This is what the Shia want and not some bogus solution based on the division of the spoils according to demographic formulae, a condition that would very probably result in communal sectarianism becoming a social and political reality rather than a manifestation of an unscrupulous state authority.

The airing in public of the sectarian issues facing Iraq does not subject Iraq’s unity to any serious threat. It is intended to confront the problem directly, in order to correctly define its nature and to proffer solutions that would lead to its elimination. Ignoring the problem, or sweeping it under the carpet because of some ill-defined "threat" to national unity only compounds the issue and is an affront to the memory of the untold multitudes that have perished or suffered hardships and indignities because of their sectarian identity and allegiances.

There is the unavoidable reality that there are two sects in Iraq, a fact which it would be foolish to deny or ignore. The imposition of an enforced and artificial homogeneity on this reality only serves to compound the problem and pushes it to the point where an explosion becomes inevitable. The recognition and even celebration of Iraq’s sectarian diversity is an important platform in reconstructing the terms of dialogue between the state and the people, and by confirming the civil and religious rights of all the sects and groups in Iraq, the ground is strengthened for enhancing the sense of unity and patriotism in the country.

The sectarian issue in Iraq will not be solved by the imposition of a vengeful Shia sectarianism on the state and society. It can only be tackled by defining its nature and boundaries and formulating a complete national programme for its resolution. At the same time, the imperative of national unity should not be used as a pretext to avoid the necessity of dismantling the sectarian state and its harmful policies.

7. Sectarian differences and sectarian discrimination

The distinction between the existence of sectarian differences and sectarian discrimination as such, must be established clearly. The state has masked its exploitation of the existence of sectarian differences in order to pursue its policy of sectarian discrimination.

The sectarian differences within Islam can be traced to the dawn of the Islamic era. Iraq’s Muslim population is divided between Sunnis and Shia and there should be no harm or fear about acknowledging this fact. The sects have co-existed by and large for generations with no serious sectarian crises resulting in consequence. Sectarian differences do not constitute a social, intellectual or political issue in the Iraqi context, and sectarian affiliations should be a matter of course.

The real issue is official sectarianism rather than sectarian differences. Or in other words, the exploitation of the differences between the sects for the purpose of discriminating between them in order to promote a specific policy of power and control. It is this deliberate policy of enshrining sectarian differences to promote discriminatory and retrograde policies that has been used to strip the Shia of their political and civil rights and to reduce them to the status of second-class citizens. The label of "Shia" has been sufficient cause to remove the ordinary Shii from any consideration of positions of power and authority irrespective of his qualities and competences, and in spite of his political affiliations. To be a Shia in Iraq is to be condemned to a lifetime of powerlessness, fear, anxiety and discrimination.

The absence of any noticeable Shia representation in the upper reaches of state and power is clearly evident and incontrovertible, as is the manifest discrimination employed against them. The reconstruction of Iraq’s state and society requires therefore a deep understanding of what the Shia actually want from their state, starting from the abolition of official discrimination and the return to them of their civil and constitutional rights from which they have been deprived for decades.

Civil and political rights must be guaranteed through the development of a body of laws and institutions that guard against sectarian discrimination. These should also aim to remove all traces of sectarian practices in Iraq and would be empowered with the authority to enforce these new policies. Sectarian loyalties that unite peoples who share a common heritage and history are a natural occurrence and each person should be free to declare his sectarian affinities without fear or anxiety. But this should not result in the enshrining of sectarianism as a policy or as a basis for political action.

8. The Shia of Iraq and national unity

The lessons drawn from Iraq’s history are clear- the Shia have at no point sought to establish their own state or unique political entity. Rather, whenever the opportunity was afforded to them, they participated enthusiastically in nation-wide political movements and organisations, ever conscious of the need to maintain national unity and probably more so than other groups inside Iraq. This can be abundantly established by examining the Shia’s involvement in the struggle to establish the independent Iraqi state within its current recognised borders. The Shia, both in their islamist and non-islamist manifestations, have avoided being dragged into separatist schemes, and have been steadfast in their commitment to the unitary Iraqi state. The vital support that they gave to the claims of the Sharifian candidate to the Iraqi throne, in addition to the general sympathy that was exhibited to the cause of the Sharifs of Mecca after the Great War, was symptomatic of their patriotism.

This historic position of the Shia in favour of the unitary constitutional Iraqi state was not given its due measure, unfortunately, by successive Iraqi governments. In fact, the Shia role in safeguarding the unity of Iraq was constantly belittled and frequently ignored. The earliest political parties and movements in which the Shia were involved, were clear in their platforms and programmes of an absolute commitment to an independent and constitutional state stretching from the Province of Mosul in the north to the Province of Basra in the south. The slogan, "An Arab Islamic Government", that was demanded by the Shia leadership in the referendum of 1919 is the incontrovertible evidence of the commitment of the Shia to an Arab/Muslim form of rule for Iraq, and the rejection of any status not commensurate with full political independence for the country.

This position of the Shia remained firm in spite of their oppression and discrimination at the hands of successive governments. The expulsion of Sheikh Mahdi al-Khalisi to Iran by the government of Muhsin as-Saadoun, in blithe disregard of the role that he played in securing popular approval for the demand for national sovereignty and independence, was one of the first manifestations of the policy of official anti-Shiism in action. But the constant harassments and threats that the Shia leadership were subjected to in the early days of independence did not deflect them from their commitment to the Iraqi state.

Even as we are in the midst of the present explosive situation, where state anti-Shiism has reached unprecedented levels of violence, the Shia have not raised the banner of withdrawal from the body politic of Iraq. The insistence on national unity as a clear starting principle has been the common denominator for all the active Iraqi Shia oppositionists, as has been the recognition that the problems arising from the atrocious misgovernment of the multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian state that is Iraq, could best be resolved in the context of a single Iraqi state.

The Shia of Iraq, in spite of being constantly and maliciously tested as to the depth of their national loyalty, have proven, time and again, their commitment to Iraq even at the expense of their own sectarian interests. Their call for the restitution of their civil and political rights can in no way be seen as a threat to national unity, when they have indisputably proven that they have been its principal protectors in word and in deed.

9. What do the Shia want?

The demands of the Shia can be succinctly summarised as follows:

1. The abolition of dictatorship and its replacement with democracy.

2. The abolition of ethnic discrimination and its replacement with a federal structure for Kurdistan

3. The abolition of the policy of discrimination against the Shia

The Declaration of the Shia of Iraq aims to elaborate on a Shia perspective on the political future of Iraq .Its principal points are as follows:

1. Abolition of ethnic and sectarian discrimination, and the elimination of the effects of these erroneous policies

2. The establishment of a democratic parliamentary constitutional order, that carefully avoids the hegemony of one sect or ethnic group over the others

3. The consolidation of the principles of a single citizenship for all Iraqis, a common citizenship being the basic guarantor of national unity.

4. Full respect for the national, ethnic, religious, and sectarian identities of all Iraqis, and the inculcation of the ideals of true citizenship amongst all of Iraq’s communities.

5. Confirmation of the unitary nature of the Iraqi state and people, within the parameters of diversity and pluralism in Iraq’s ethnic, religious and sectarian identities.

6. Reconstruction of, and support for, the main elements of a civil society and its community bases.

7. Adoption of the structures of a federal state that would include a high degree of decentralisation and devolution of powers to elected provincial authorities and assemblies.

8. Full respect for the principles of universal human rights.

9. Protection of the Islamic identity of Iraqi society.

Firstly, Democracy:

Dictatorship has been one of the main factors that have buttressed the structures of official sectarian and ethnic discrimination, and constitutional democracy, operating through vital and effective institutions, is the necessary cure for this virulent ailment. The Shia do not want to solve their sectarian problems by creating an analogous one for other groups. Rather, they are seeking redress through a system that would guard the rights of all the constituent elements of Iraq’s society, whereby all will be treated on an equal footing.

Secondly: Federalism

One of the key elements of the Iraqi conundrum is the near exclusive concentration of powers in the capital, Baghdad, in a manner that has robbed the outlying regions of any opportunity to address their local concerns, needs and special conditions and particularities. The solution has to be in the devolution of powers and authorities to these areas within a framework of broad administrative decentralisation.

Federalism as a system would be designed to negotiate between the need to have a central authority with effective but not hegemonic powers, and regions that enjoy a high order of decentralised powers, all within a framework of careful delineation of rights and responsibilities as between the centre and the regions. Ideally, a federal system would also legislate for the maintenance of Iraq’s unitary nature, but recognises the need to fully accommodate Iraq’s diversity.

Iraq’s federal structure would not be based on a sectarian division but rather on administrative and demographic criteria. This would avoid the formation of sectarian-based entities that could be the prelude for partition or separation.

The proposed federal system would grant considerable powers to the regions, including legislative, fiscal, judicial and executive powers, thereby removing the possibility of the centre falling under the control of a dominant group which would extend its hegemony over the entire country. Iraq’s federalist structures would benefit greatly from the experience of countries that have adopted this system of government successfully.

Thirdly: Abolition of the policies of sectarianism

The Declaration of the Shia of Iraq envisages the elimination of official sectarianism through the adoption of specific political and civil rights that would eliminate the disadvantage of the Shia.

A/ Political Rights:

In order to eliminate the accumulation of sectarian policies and codes of conduct employed by the authorities over decades, it would be necessary to examine the administrative structures of the Iraqi state and its civil and military institutions. In particular, the employment and promotion policies that have been pursued in the past must be remedied by policies that stress merit, effectiveness and competence as the basis for all employment. A federal authority with a remit to combat sectarianism would be established, which would examine closely the principles employed for filling all senior governmental posts, and which would be charged also with adjudicating all complaints and cases of sectarianism. The federal authority’s mandate could be extended to include the combat of all forms of sectarianism in official and private institutions.

A fund would be established to compensate all those who have been harmed as a result of sectarian and ethnic discrimination and policies. Such a fund would be administered by a council that would establish the norms and procedures for evaluating the extent of damages and the restitution due.

A set of laws would be introduced to abolish sectarianism and that would criminalize sectarian conduct.

A new nationality law would be introduced that would be based on a notion of citizenship that would emphasise loyalty to Iraq rather than to any sectarian, national or religious affiliation.

B/ Civil Rights:

The key civil rights that have a special resonance for the Shia would include:

1. Their right to practice their own religious rites and rituals and to autonomously administer their own religious shrines and institutions, through legitimate Shia religious authorities.

2. Full freedom to conduct their religious affairs in their own mosques, meeting halls and other institutions.

3. Freedom to teach in their religious universities and institutions with no interference by the central or provincial authorities.

4. Freedom of movement and travel and assembly on the part of the higher Shia religious authorities, ulemaand speakers, and guarantees afforded to the teaching circles-the hawzas- to conduct their affairs in a manner that they see fit.

5. Ensuring that the Shia’s religious shrines and cities are entered into UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and are thus protected from arbitrary acts of change and destruction.

6. Full freedoms to publish Shia tracts and books and to establish Shia religious institutions and assemblies. 

7. The right to establish independent schools, universities and other teaching establishments and academies, within the framework of a broad and consensual national education policy.

8. Introduction the elements of the Jafari creed and rites into the national educational curriculum, in a manner similar to the way in which other schools of Islamic jurisprudence are taught.

9. Revising the elements of the history curriculum to remove all disparagement of the Shia, and the writing of an authentic history that would remove any anti-Shia biases.

10. Freedom to establish Shia mosques, meeting halls and libraries.

11. Respect for the burial grounds of the Shia.

12. Official recognition by the state of the key dates of the Shia calendar.

13  Repatriation of all Iraqis who were forcibly expelled from Iraq, or who felt obliged to leave under duress, and the full restitution of their constitutional and civil rights.

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