(Dr. Kumar Mahabir drafted this letter to address the issue of Al-Rawi misleading the public on politics and religion in Iraq)
Al-Rawi misleading the public on politics and religion in Iraq
Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General and PNM candidate for San Fernando West, Faris Al-Rawi, seems to have a penchant for misleading the public.
On Monday (3/8/20), he was given an extraordinarily long time on TV6 by its morning show host, Fazeer Mohammed, to defend the accusation that he has been consistently biased against the Muslim community.
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Al-Rawi said that his father is an Arab Muslim and he himself had spent many years in Iraq. He, however, was untruthful in saying that in Iraq, politics does not mix with religion.
The two predominant sects of Islam, the Shiite and the Sunni, have always been influential in politics and government. Religious leaders like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani had a profound influence over Iraq’s Shiite majority, government ministers, and even the country’s powerful militias.
In 1993, President Saddam Hussein initiated a “faith campaign” in which his government printed and distributed five million copies of the Quran, built large and expensive mosques (principally Sunni) and introduced Sharia law into the Iraqi penal code.
After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, there was an upsurge in religiosity in all parts of Iraq. (see David R. Smock’s article on the website of the United States Institute of Peace, 23/12/03).
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In Barah Mikail’s article entitled “Nation or Religion? Iraq’s Hybrid Identity Politics”, he states that when voters go to the polls, “they tend to favour candidates that reflect their ethnoreligious affinities” (website of the Middle East Institute, 16/06/20).
Al-Rawi was not telling the truth. There has always been a dynamic interaction between politics and religion in Iraq.
Dr Kumar Mahabir,
San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago
(AUTHOR’S BIO- Dr. Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books. He lives in Trinidad.)