Christians hope for more rights under Iraq's interim constitution

( [email protected] ) Mar 10, 2004 09:57 AM EST

Iraq - After months of tension, Iraq’s interim leaders finally signed a new temporary constitution on March 8, which human rights watchdogs hope will guarantee Christians and other minorities at least some rights in Iraq’s volatile society.

In a boost for Christian churches, the constitution cites Islam as "a source" of law rather than "the source" as Muslim hardliners wanted. Critics point out the document still recognizes Islam as the nation’s official religion.

The new constitution also acknowledges the basic rights of all segments of Iraqi society by calling for democracy and pluralism in the new federal republic of Iraq. "I want to cry because of happiness," said Shiite council woman Rajaa Habib al-Khuzai minutes after she and others singed the milestone document, "Everything will go smoothly from now on. The attacks will not affect us."