Director of Freemuslim, Center for De-Radicalization & Extremism Prevention attends an event hosted by The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) focusing on Iraq’s early elections in October. AGSIW’s description to what the problem may be is as follows; “Two years after massive protests erupted in Iraq, early parliamentary elections will be held in October. Although the elections were one of the demands of the demonstrators, they are likely to be boycotted by these same activists as well as a large part of the Iraqi electorate. Yet, formal and informal coalitions have registered to run candidates with the hope of influencing the formation of the next government.”
The expert panel focused on importance of internal need for change as oppose to allowing neighboring countries or any foreign country with interests within Iraq to decide for the people and effect the outcome of the elections. Foreign countries, including some of the neighboring countries, have tried to induce unrest in Iraq through one or more than one of the following ways:
- Inciting violence between tribes, religious sects, or political affiliates
- Financing domestic violent groups to conducts acts of terrorism including bombing, abduction, or targeted killings
- Funding or indirectly influencing internal militia groups
- Using Social Media to influence the youth to protest the regime, but not have a clear goal to achieve other than increasing unrest and terrorizing the general public
Majority of the protestors who cannot become part of a political group and become part of the political change the country faces either join protestors in demanding change, join Militia groups, or simply give up on demanding change due to unclear path to bring change to the Iraq’s current governing system.
In a Question & Answer session with the speakers Freemuslim’s director suggested candidates must represent those are protesting or create a platform for people to voice their opinions. We urge Iraqis to protest peacefully and find peaceful ways to bring change to the country. Positively contributing to the future of Iraq leads to a proper change that can last a long time, and violent protest are only short-term gains for the protestors but rarely reflect a long term change.
Freemuslim’s director, Mr. Akhwand also recommended there should be a mechanism to evaluate the eligibility of candidacy for any political, social or economical post in Iraq. Proof record that the candidate has positively contributed to future of Iraq is a must. Their relations with people of their party or those who oppose them also portrays the ability to lead Iraq and respect the diversity existing in Iraq. Iraq is a Multi-Culture & Multi-Faith country and a representative who understands and respects such diversity may lead Iraqis towards prosperity.