What Will be Iran's Future Constitution?
It has been 23 years since the establishment of Islamic Republic in Iran and we still do not have even a framework for an alternative constitution for a secular republic in Iran. We should not wait till the collapse of IRI to start writing a proposed Constitution. When the regime falls, we will not have much time and the Iranian progressive forces should have a proposed alternative Constitution for the future republic now or we can end up like Afghanestan which is co-opting so much of the Islamic junk into its laws again and again and after all the sacrifices it gave to get rid of the Islamic state of Taleban. It is a shame after all the sacrifices that Afghanestan is still using Shari'a as the basis of its judicial system.
As seen in the case of Taleban, the IRI can be gone tomorrow and the people of Iran (or Afghanestan for that matter) deserve a lot better secular laws than what is now becoming the laws of the state in Afghanestan. After all the sacrifices we have given to oppose the Islamic State, ending up with something like that would be a shame. Iran had advanced secular laws 100 years ago, during Mashrootiat, and we should get busy to write a Constitution for future Iranian secular state, on par with the world developments of the 21st Century, rather than settling with something like Afghanestan after all these torments of 23 years.
It is true that Constitutions will be proposed and approved by the parliament, but the progressive forces of Iran should start to have a proposal for our ideal Constitution. I believe the points that I have noted below in my proposal for unity of Iranian opposition are the minimum that need to be in the future Constitution of Iran but these are just about ten percent of the Constitution and it takes a serious work to develop a proposal for future Iran Constitution:
There are good examples of Constitutions that have built proper barriers to religion's interference in the state affairs and can be used as a model for separation of state and religion in Iran and we can learn from them. For example, as far as the issue of separation of state and religion is concerned, the Constitution of New York of 1777 is of particular value:
"XXXIX. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function; therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under any presence or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this State. "
Likewise the Constitution of North Carolina of 1776 is of particular value:
"XXXI. That no clergyman, or preacher of the gospels of any denomination, shall be capable of being a member of either the Senate, House of Commons, or Council of State, while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral function."
It is about time that Iranian opposition starts and completes this work. It is already too late. We cannot wait and not do this work, and tomorrow if another version of Islamic nonsense becomes the law of our land, to complain. Who are we waiting to do this for us? Are we waiting for the US to write our Constitution and later complain that it is all their fault that they wrote it. What is stopping Iranian democratic and progressive forces to write our own proposed Constitution now before the regime falls?
Here are some sources about Constitution that I have collected which can be useful for this work:
Different people can help such efforts in different ways. Some people can start a foundation to support such a work by contributing money and resources. Others can do the actual research. Still others, hopefully with background in legal studies, can write the proposed constitution and pass it around to different political forces and individuals for feedback. This work is very important. It is like working on the blue print and layout map of a house when one is starting to build the new secular republic of Iran.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
June 11, 2002