Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim: We don't want an extremist Islamic government in Iraq

Taken from a speech that was delivered by the leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to a news conference in the holy Shia city of Najaf

Our Arab and Islamic world is full of dictatorship. This dictatorship [of Saddam Hussein] confiscated all rights of the Iraqi people, even the simple ones, interfering in all the details of the Iraqi person, even inside his home. The Iraqi person became a slave.

We have some freedom, but it is not complete. When we want to move, we find foreign troops and limitations on our movement. To reach our goals, there must be a system based on the will of the Iraqi people, elected by the Iraqi people.

The system must respect the make-up of the Iraqi people. Shias have their cultural specifics, Kurds, and Turkmens, Sunnis and Christians have theirs.

The new government will be a modern Islamic regime to go along with today's modern world, and it will be able to bring Iraq to its natural place in the Arab and Islamic word.

We don't want extremist Islam, but an Islam of independence, justice and freedom. We have to know this when we speak in what people call "religious slogans", and when they say that we speak apart from life and know nothing about this world, tucked away in mosques. That is not true. We also want to build a modern state. Some people think that women should stay at home. Now, women these days are half of society. They should be a principal part of this society. They should be given an essential role to play in elections and reconstruction of the country.

I will be working to set up a government which will represent all the people of Iraq, restore security, reconstruct it and take it out of its isolation,

The majority of Iraqi people are Shia. They should have a political role, but not to the exclusion of other Iraqi people. We want a political revolution and government including all the parties and people of Iraq, or there could be some kind of social explosion.

We want a democratic government which respects Islam. As the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, we call for an Islamic state because we are Islamic. Neither an Islamic government nor a secular administration will work in Iraq, but a democratic state that respects Islam as the religion of a majority of the population.

Our objectives are freedom, independence and justice. Iraq needs a civil society and a popularly elected government that represents all ethnic, racial and religious groups.

The Badr Brigade, the military wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, will play its role in providing security. If they need arms, they will keep arms. They will be part of either the police or the military.

We will not take up arms against anybody to reach our objectives. We will pursue the path of dialogue and free elections.

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