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How did October protesters challenge the extra constitutional authority of the political decision makers and social taboos

By November 5, 2021No Comments

Freedom is guaranteed in Iraqi constitution and section two is allocated to the Rights and Freedom in which article 15 states ” Every individual has the right to enjoy life, security and liberty. Deprivation or restriction of these rights is prohibited except in accordance with the law and based on a decision issued by a competent judicial authority” . This is not the whole picture as the scale of freedom in Iraq is Compounded because it exists only on paper whereas in reality there are limits determined by the political and religious decision makers . Breaking those limits would put those breakers in danger of loss of life. Laws are enacted only to coerce the marginalized segments . Freedom of expression is allowed only to those who are part of the system hence the vast majority of the satellite channels , newspapers and other interactive media are monopolized by deep pocket political parties . They are used to disseminate the the propaganda and rhetoric the system wants. Since the first days after US occupation Islamic political parties rushed to control the vacuum left to dominate the media and control the dissemination of the the information and social discourse . Media were used to brainwash the masses with the Islamic ideology and to set red lines and the scale of the limits of speech allowed. Islamists enhanced their narrative in the mainstream media and public opinion which they control tightly and open the air only for their adherents by monopolizing the television news channels and then by recruiting social media trolls which work to spread their rhetoric which portraits Iraq as a country of three major ethno sectarian components with a bunch of vulnerable minorities. This notion has devastated any patriotic project but has been contested through cross sectarian demonstrations held in different times of post 2003 order . The media was a mirror which represented their vision of the sectarian Iraq . The political oligarchy has been consistent in playing on the identity politics in order to sustain dominion and authority in their constituencies and to justify their existence . law In Iraq is not meant to be applied on all rather it has been used as a political tool by the political spectrum . The political crime in Iraq is not determined according to the act, but on the basis of the identity of the perpetrator . perpetrators are not prone to accountability If they belong to the dominant political forces . Militia terrorists attacks are labelled unlawful acts if they are committed by militia groups linked to the political parties hence the perpetrators of political crimes have never held accountable for their terrorist acts due to their extra-constitutional status . Authorities are helpless to counter the perpetrators who are backed by the powerful politicitical and religious cartel . The first political crime took place inside the shrine of Imam Ali on 10 April 2003 when Sayed Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a Shia cleric was killed by shia mob organised by Muqtada al-Sadr . The perpetrators were jailed but then released . Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) spokesman Dan Senor publicly announced on April 5 that an Iraqi judge had issued an arrest warrant for Muqtada Al sadr but since then the arrest warrant has never come into effect . The judiciary authority is an accomplice in the process of enabling the non- state actors whose power transcends the official authorities to have their own rules of the game pervasive . On august 31 2020 a thuggish group of militia loyalists called “Raba Alla” set fire

on Dijla channel headquarter in sight of the security of the building because it aired songs on 10 Muharram , the day on which Hussein ibn Ali was martyred in the Battle of Karbala . Iraqi court issued an arrest warrant to the owner of TV channel Jamal Karbouli . The court statement Based on a complaint filed by several lawyers with Al-Rusafa Investigation Court regarding deliberately insulting the rituals of one of the religious communities in Iraq, and according to the paragraph (372/1) of the Penal Code despite the lack of the legal basis of the case as the paragraph (372/1) states a punishment to any person who attacks the creed of a religious minority or pours scorns on its religious practices . This paragraph is not applicable to what Dijla TV aired on the day of Ashura because it neither attacked nor poured scorns to any creed or religious practices . Afterwards partisan and militia trolls conducted smear campaigns , intimidation and death threats against Dijla employees . The journalists in Dijla were obliged to announce their resignation to the public to avoid any probable bloody retaliation . The post 2003 Iraqi political model has fundamental similarities with the Iranian regime where the grip of power is centered around two levels : formal and informal. The formal includes the constitutional institutions , governmental apparatus and the form of state directorates and offices. The informal take the form of religious-political associations, businessmen and paramilitary organizations mostly backed by Iran. Since 2003 power has not been in the hands of official authorities rather it is the powerful armed political parties that implement their authority by using state assets both in Baghdad or KRG . The condition is not much different in KRG With a bipartisan leverage gives legitimacy to the extra – judicial authority that the two main Kurdish parties have had since 1991. In KRG Masoud Barzani prevented the then speaker of parliament youssef Mohammed and a number of parliament members from entering Erbil in 2015 because they opposed his extended presidential mandate. Political hegemony have always proven to have a superior status to law implementation .There has always been a clientism in the relationship between the state authorities including that of the judiciary authority with the powerful political elites . For instance The judiciary turns a blind eye to the massacres committed intervally by militias and political decision makers while wasting times in chasing the so called heretics .…/atheists-iraq-human-rights… despite the fact that irreligion is not forbidden in Iraqi penal code . This extra judicial measures have mostly been conducted for partisan purposes . The poor security status and the fragmentation of the state makes the law applied only to enforce the policies of the bipartisan dominion in the KRG and the shiite Islamic decision makers in the rest of Iraq . The influence of the dominant political parties ; mainly shiites on the state has made these institutions dependent and untrustworthy . This lack of law implementation is partly ascribed to the overhaul of the state in 2003 conducted by Coalition Provisional Authority orders as well as other factors. . For instance Security apparatus have been incorporated by militias linked with dominant shiite political parties . The militias’ infiltration dates back to June 2004 when the Coalition Provisional Authority issued order 91 which ratifies the incorporation of militais into the Iraqi Armed Forces and other Iraqi security forces . power is distributed on different levels among parties, militias, tribes, and clerics.This fragmentation of power makes for the extant hegemony of the non state actors on the state official apparatus , thus October revolution can be understood as an outcome of the collapse of the state institutionalism and the lack of its credibility. the fragility of state authority in Iraq has been interpreted as follows ; the party that holds arms would consequently be part of the decision making circle . This equation increases the race of militarization and the formation of militias within the Political class and reinforced the impetus of ambitious militia leaders to fill the vacuum that the absence of state institutions

left after 2003 . Power has been monopolized by three bodies or can be considered (non official executive authorities ) respectively . Almarjia’a (the shiite religious establishment ) , Moqtada sadar and Iran’s backed factions . Each one of them yield an authority with implicit recognition of others’ ones . This state above state condition justified the creation of the red lines or untouchable figures whom people can’t criticize without being exposed to the danger of retaliation and extra judicial assaults. The marjia authority although holds neither official position nor ratified in the constitution went to have an extra constitutional status whose attitudes determine the trajectory of political and social events and it has proven to have a decisive involvements when there is a necessity . It holds a unique share of power and indisputable status in the post 2003 equation . Last October anew player has emerged to face off the classical power sharing elites . The legitimacy of protest movement which offers an alternative to the enriched corrupt regime stemmed from the fact that it represented the first cross sectarian sociopolitical movement since 2003 . In October the classical discourse of the supremacy of ethnosectarian identity have been contested and replaced with patriotic spirit and divisive policies with unitary narrative . Throughout a year of uprising October protesters have done their best to invest in the patriotic unitary slogans to encounter the sectarian politics which has been imposed since 2003 by the incumbent political spectrum . The bloody crackdown against the protest movement has encouraged the protesters to challenge the powers of the political powers and proved the diffusion of partisan elements in the security forces and the lack of unitary power Since the onset of the protest movement Many of the so called red lines have been breached by the demonstraters and non demonstersters alike . The breach was fueled by the the violence used by the thugs of “head’s crowns ” against the protestors . The use of excessive force diminished the legitimacy of the political order and increased the scale of protestors’ freedom to lash out at the gardians of the system regardless of their social or religious status . October was a revolutionary moment in which Iraqi youth exploded in the face of the ruling oligarchy driven by their wrath and hopelessness. . The classical force decided to confront the new emerging sociopolitical movement through an array of reactionary smear campaigns and excessive use of force . October revolutionaries dcided to stuggle to set footsteps in the public discourse arena to produce alternative trajectory to the Iraqi dream which has been suppressed by successive regimes . Throught the year October protestors have never recessed despite the massacres , assassinations , kidnapping , threats and intimidation they went through . The political class responded by recalling the old game of sectarian rhetoric in collaboration with the increase of violence and exerting unlawful acts and sabotage in the name of protesters and yield terrorist acts such as assassinating activists , kidnapping and conducting incendiary campaigns to confront the protesters who represent a threatening challenge to their authority . One of the strategies followed by the political cartel was Infiltrating the demonstration squares with their supporters to creat chaos . They succed in making sabotage under the name of protest movement which was one of the means used to defame the protest movement with the aim to lose its momentum . part of the new strategy followed by protesters since October 1st with the aim to challenge all the social taboos and norms which have been set by Islamic parties since 2003 which includes shiite unity , sanctity of powerful political and religious figures and their immunity from criticism. One way to challenge these norms is to criticise militias’ leaders , powerful religious scholars with link to the 2003 political order and the religious establishment

including Hawza , preachers and Eulogy reciters . October protest created a new authority for the so long marginalized social segments Given the poor status of the Iraqi women , the presence and participation of woman in the protest was of great importance . They took the lead in the the continuity of the protest movement by lending their support, as first aid paramedics , artists, cooks and online activists. They have had a pivotal role in shaping the civic soul in the protest squares . For women , the protest was an incentive to express their agony against a patriarchal society . They held many feminist rallies in a way that challenges Iraq’s traditionalism and ruling conservative mentality . It was one of the social challenge driven by the revolutionary moment that the protest movement poses to the public . It had been a long time since women participated in the political atmosphere in Iraqi history . Women have been marginalized under the rule of conservative Islamic parties thus it is prohibited in their ideology that women take to the street and call for public demand to be met . The mixed students rallies were one of the most important events in the uprising . College students (Men and women ) were rallying weekly . Women did not use to participate in these large numbers in the public arena . The protest movement poses a great , big challenge to the conservative community and to the influence that religion has on the social mentality of average . The protest was one of the few moments in history that Iraqi women perceived to be equal to men .In a stark challenge to a call by Moqtada Al sadr a firebrand shiite cleric for gender segregation , women took the street on 13 February in marches in Baghdad and other southern cities . They reteriated their notorious slogan ‘He who says our voice is shameful, it’s the key of the revolution,”. verbal and Physical assaults intercepted the feminist march committed by Sadr adherents in response to women’s chants against their leader. Afterwards Moqtada Al Sadr lashed out at the protesters as being rife with “nudity, promiscuity, drunkenness, immorality, debauchery … and non-believers” due to the presence of women in the protest squares Iraqis have never felt the freedom they have enjoyed during the protest movement . Although homosexuality is not illegal in Iraqi penal code , homosexuals had been underrepresented on all levels before October uprising. Given the hyper traditional society they live in , homosexuals had been culturally deprived and ignored to express themselves in the public arena let alone the political one . LGTP community considers the protest movement a vent to introduce their identity to the outer public mainstream . They played pivotal role in sustaining , rallying and were integral in the participation and incitement of the protest movement . For the first time their identity was represented in the public space of society through the protest movement . Their right of existence as an active community has come to the fore of social and political discussion. They had not been introduced to the public exept as a victim to the conservative hardliners while they receive little or no attention by the mainstream media to the mistreatment and harassment they often endure in the society thus October to them was a revolutionary moment and existential matter through which they succeeded to rediscover themselves in a time they were unnoticed .They succeeded through their civic activities to refute the misconceptions circulating around them . The rejuvenescence which coincided with the protest movement gave them a unified social legitimacy among other segments and encouraged those who were once shy to express their identity or gave impetus to those who were afraid to defend the rights of LGTP community . The primer minister Mustafa Al-kadhimi’s program which has been approved by the majority of parliament on on 6 May 2020 has set out priorities for the cabinet which includes forming an early election that should be preceded by the implementation of law of political parties whose article 8 third states ” No party should take a form of military or paramilitary form nor

should have links to any armed force” . The implementation of enrolling the political blocs has proven the inability of governmental institutions to make the law come into effect . The paramilitaries opposed the designation of Mustafa Al kadhimi as a prime minister accusing him of being an American intelligence agent who helped the Americans in the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran and the deputy head of PMF Abu Mahdi Almuhandis . The accusation unleashed a tit for tat competition over several issues. on June 25, the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service carried out an operation against Kataib Hezbollah (KH), a powerful Iran-backed militia, in al-Dora south of Baghdad in which security forces seized rockets and detained more than a dozen members of the group at the site. A measure welcomed both internally and externally . It was intended to gain public support particularly protesters’ support but it was soon until the prime minister realized the weakness of the state and the hegemony of extraconstitutional actors over security forces when the militia detained several members of counter-terrorism force as hostages which have been kept in militia’s jail until their comrades detainees had been released . The activities of militias have increased since Mustafa Alkadhimi took office which includes rejenovating old military factions with new names such as Ashab al-Kahf and Osabat al thairoon and launching rocket attacks against Us embassy plus targeting other diplomatic missions as well as Conducting conter protest by “Rabaa Alla ” to embarrass the government . kadhimi close aides state that the prime minister aims to decrease the power of the paramilitaries and the next election will be a battle between advocates of state versus non state actors . The question remains unanswered how will the authority of state be restored and when will it be ?