Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Letter to the Editor: The Santa Clara

by John Heit

This quote from Michael Pellicio’s column, “Iraqi Election Is Successful” demonstrates a lack of research into the matter of Sunni political participation as well as an obvious bias against Muslims.

"Sunni clerics reject the legitimacy of the elections because Sunni voters, who the clerics banned from voting, turned out in lower numbers than the rest of the Iraqis. To accept this complaint, one not only has to assume that the Sunni clerics hate democracy, which they do, but also that they don't understand how democracy works."

First, the position of many Sunni clerics is that elections under occupation are illegitimate---not elections in general. Second, I think a little research reveals the Sunnis to be adept political strategists, not anti-democratic.

The Iraqi interim constitution stipulates that the permanent constitution will be subject to a national referendum on October 15 of this year. Should the constitution fail to be ratified in any three provinces, the constitution will not come into effect.

Now, The Sunnis are a majority in three provinces which did not have high voter turnout: Ninevah, Salahadin, and al Anbar. Thus, if they can be politically organized (something demonstrated by their boycott), they could wield great influence over the form the constitution takes with this virtual veto. And by not participating in the elections, they can wield that influence while continuing to criticize the elections and current government without the burden of having voted for it.

It hardly seems that the Sunnis hate democracy and don’t understand how it works.


John Heit was an SCU senior and Hackworth Fellow in 2004-05. Posted June 2005.

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