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6/19/04 - NO THEOCRACY FOR IRAQ - 2004-06-21

On a visit to the U.S., the president of the interim Iraqi government, Ghazi al-Yawar, said he does not believe that Iraq will become an Islamic theocracy like Iran:

“I don't think so. Whoever knows the social background of the Iraqi people, they know that, yes, they are genuine believers in God. But it's a live-and-let-live society. What we want to have in Iraq is a society [in which] everybody can live comfortably. Everybody respects other people's private beliefs, but nobody should prevail [over] the others. We are a diversity of religions and ethnic groups which we are proud of because this is a positive sign.”

Theocratic Iran is far from being a model for Iraq. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case. A democratic and pluralist Iraq, says President George W. Bush, will be a beacon of hope to the Iranian people:

“A free Iraq on the border of Iran is going to send a very clear signal to those who want to be free -- that a free society is very possible.”

Iraqi interim President al-Yawar says he is optimistic that ethnically and religiously diverse Iraq will not break out in a civil war or become a haven for terrorists. But he expects violence from what he calls “foreign and domestic enemies” to increase as Iraq moves to full sovereignty on July 1st, and to national elections in the coming months. He says that Iraq can have a democratic future:

“Why not? If we make all Iraqis feel that they are partners in this country; if all Iraqis know that they have a stake, an interest in the prosperity of Iraq; when we enhance the level of national awareness within the Iraqi people; when all Iraqis feel they are equal in front of the law of Iraq; definitely, we will be a democracy.”

President al-Yawar says Iraqis are determined “to have a free, democratic, federal Iraq.” And he, like President Bush, says that such an Iraq will be “a source of stability to the Middle East, which is very important for the rest of the world.”