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date: 17 January 2021

On the Paradox of State Religion and Religious Freedom 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
Zachary ElkinsZachary Elkins

The Iraqi Constitution of 2005 is noteworthy for what it tells us about the remarkable setting in which it emerged. Recall that the authors of that document hashed out a plan for a new Iraq under conditions of simmering ethnic conflict and under the supervision of occupying powers. The episode reminds us of a constitution’s unique ability to reflect the ideas swirling around important political and historical events. Indeed, such reflections may be what endear the genre to those of us who are its aficionados. Among the difficult questions that faced the Iraqi drafters was how exactly to reconcile their citizens’ religious commitments with the norms of liberal democracy. The outcome of such logical challenges can sometimes seem schizophrenic, or at least philosophically intriguing. So goes the Iraqi Constitution, which begins, unapologetically, with a set of arresting paradoxes... ...

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