08/13/2004: And speaking of Juan Cole....
yesterday, the good professor treated us to an interesting portrait of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. In the process, he makes some observations which show that it isn't exactly an unfair characterization to refer to the conservative Christian wing of the GOP as "the American Taliban":
Ideologically, I suspect Sistani is closer to the al-Da'wa Party than to SCIRI. Sistani rejects the notion of clerical rule promulgated by Khomeini, though he accepts it with regard to "social issues." When they were in Tehran, at least, the al-Hakims had accepted this theory from Khomeini, and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was talking about a future Islamic state in Iraq as recently as last spring.
Western reporters keep saying that Sistani believes in the separation of religion and state, but this is not true. Sistani wants religious law to be the law of the land and when parliament takes up legislation related to moral or social matters on which Sistani has a position, he expects the Shiite members of parliament to do as he says.
I suppose it is the sort of system that the Christian Coalition and the religious wing of the Republican Party would like to implement in the United States. Indeed, it is because the Republicans have elements of this sort of system in place that President Bush limited stem cell research and pushed for a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage. Some people warn that because Sistani wants religious law and clerical influence, he is a Trojan Horse for theocracy. If so, then so are Tom Delay and George W. Bush and their allies among the evangelical Protestant ayatollahs.
Len on 08.13.04 @ 08:15 AM CST