Thursday, November 06, 2008

As U.S. Takes Historic Step Forward, Iraq’s Democracy Takes a Step Backward

During the same week that the United States elected its first African American President, taking a historic step toward greater representation for all Americans, the people of Iraq experienced a major setback.

On Monday—the eve of U.S. elections—the Iraqi Parliament voted to reduce the representation of Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities. Whereas the UN proposed that the parliament guarantee 12 seats for Iraq’s minorities, the measure cut the number to only 6 seats. The next local elections are scheduled for 2009.

"It is a degrading decision for the unique minorities of this country. It does not serve public interest and we consider it a major insult for all minorities in Iraq," said Christian MP Yunadim Kanna.

This is a huge disappointment for the Assyrians, Yazidi, Shabak, Chaldean and Mandean communities, Iraq’s minorities who are already extremely limited in their access to government.

“This marginalization of weak and vulnerable Iraqi communities can only lead Iraq to become a totalitarian country where three majority groups, Sunni, Shia and Kurds oppress Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmens, Yazidis, Shabaks and Mandeans,” reported the BBC.

Less than a day after the decision was made in Iraq, President Obama began his Presidential acceptance speech: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

Unfortunately for Iraq’s, such Western democracy has not been successful. The contrast between the shift in American government and Iraq’s government is stark. How can the success of American democracy in promoting equality and justice for any and all people be fully celebrated as Iraqi democracy fails?

Caption: The Iraqi parliament votes during a parliament session in Baghdad, Iraq, 2002. AP

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