Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Iraqi Views of the Constitution Referendum

By Jamal Penjweny
  • “Although I don’t completely agree with the constitution, I urge my students to vote ‘yes’,” said Peyman Najeed, 36, an English-language teacher at the Khazad school for girls.
    “Although I don’t completely agree with the constitution, I urge my students to vote ‘yes’,” said Peyman Najeed, 36, an English-language teacher at the Khazad school for girls.
  • "Our rights as students can be achieved through the constitution," said Parez Faraydoon, an 18-year-old student at the Khazad school for girls in Sulaimaniyah.
    "Our rights as students can be achieved through the constitution," said Parez Faraydoon, an 18-year-old student at the Khazad school for girls in Sulaimaniyah.
  • Primary schoolchildren in Kirkuk learn about the constitution in class.
    Primary schoolchildren in Kirkuk learn about the constitution in class.
  • "I’m 34 years old, and this is the first time that I can vote freely," Khalid Muhyadeen, said in a teashop in Kirkuk. "Before, during Saddam’s regime, you had to vote for the candidate the Baathists supported."
    "I’m 34 years old, and this is the first time that I can vote freely," Khalid Muhyadeen, said in a teashop in Kirkuk. "Before, during Saddam’s regime, you had to vote for the candidate the Baathists supported."
  • "I’m 53 and I haven’t enjoyed life. It was full of wars and fear. I’ll vote in the referendum so that we can establish security and stability," said Rashid Abdullah at his teashop in Kirkuk.
    "I’m 53 and I haven’t enjoyed life. It was full of wars and fear. I’ll vote in the referendum so that we can establish security and stability," said Rashid Abdullah at his teashop in Kirkuk.
  • Mohammed Zahir, 34, who sells pomegranates in Kirkuk, said, "I decided to vote in the referendum, but I still don't know what the constitution is or its content."
    Mohammed Zahir, 34, who sells pomegranates in Kirkuk, said, "I decided to vote in the referendum, but I still don't know what the constitution is or its content."
  • Anyone who considers himself an Iraqi must vote," hospital worker Shusha Fattah, 42, said as she bought tomatoes in downtown Kirkuk. "We have to try to support women's rights and end differences between men and women."
    Anyone who considers himself an Iraqi must vote," hospital worker Shusha Fattah, 42, said as she bought tomatoes in downtown Kirkuk. "We have to try to support women's rights and end differences between men and women."
  • "We like the constitution, and we want to realise our dreams through the constitution," said Faisal Qayun, 36, from Kirkuk.
    "We like the constitution, and we want to realise our dreams through the constitution," said Faisal Qayun, 36, from Kirkuk.
  • "I won't vote because it won't make a difference," said Hamid Muhammed, 68. "All governments are the same for the poor people. God is what counts, and we want Islam."
    "I won't vote because it won't make a difference," said Hamid Muhammed, 68. "All governments are the same for the poor people. God is what counts, and we want Islam."
  • "The constitution is a very good thing enabling the peoples of Iraq to live together in fraternity," said mullah Ayad Khalil, 28, in Kirkuk.
    "The constitution is a very good thing enabling the peoples of Iraq to live together in fraternity," said mullah Ayad Khalil, 28, in Kirkuk.
  • "What is the constitution?" asked Hannan Isa, 59, as she bought spices in a market in Kirkuk. "May God bless us. If the constitution gives me a pension, I'll vote (in favour)."
    "What is the constitution?" asked Hannan Isa, 59, as she bought spices in a market in Kirkuk. "May God bless us. If the constitution gives me a pension, I'll vote (in favour)."
  • Zahir Ali, 55, a taxi driver in Kirkuk, said, "We have to vote for the constitution, because we got rid of Saddam Hussein's regime, under which we couldn't give Kurdish names to our children."
    Zahir Ali, 55, a taxi driver in Kirkuk, said, "We have to vote for the constitution, because we got rid of Saddam Hussein's regime, under which we couldn't give Kurdish names to our children."
  • "For the Kurds to be victorious," said Khayrullah Ahmed, 67, who owns a kebab shop in Kirkuk, "every Kurd must vote on October 15. We must vote to be able to show that the Kurds are an important people in the city."
    "For the Kurds to be victorious," said Khayrullah Ahmed, 67, who owns a kebab shop in Kirkuk, "every Kurd must vote on October 15. We must vote to be able to show that the Kurds are an important people in the city."
  • "This referendum will run more smoothly than the (January) election," said Hama-Salih Amin of the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq. "We met political party representatives and asked them not to interfere."
    "This referendum will run more smoothly than the (January) election," said Hama-Salih Amin of the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq. "We met political party representatives and asked them not to interfere."

On October 15, 2005, Iraqis will vote for the first time on a constitution. Drafted by a parliamentary committee, the document enjoys widespread support among Kurdish and Shia leaders, but Sunni Arab representatives remain largely opposed to the federalist principles that they believe will limit their power. At the same time, secular and moderate Muslims and women’s groups are concerned that Islam will be a source of legislation. IWPR trainee journalist Jamal Penjweny photographed and interviewed eligible voters in ethnically diverse Kirkuk and predominantly Kurdish Sulaimaniyah on their views ahead of the referendum.

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