The Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society has the adapted version of a speech by Azam Kamguian on the establishment of an Islamic court system for Muslims in Canada.
As we all know, Islamists in Canada have recently set up an Islamic Institute of Civil Justice to oversee tribunals that would arbitrate family disputes and other civil matters between people from Muslim origin on the basis of the Islamic Sharia law. This is the first time in any western country that the medieval precepts of the Sharia have been given any validity. One can imagine that the Islamists will use this as a lever to work for similar recognition in many other western countries. After all, if Canada is prepared to recognise Sharia law in this way why not every other country in the west.
Muslims will be under enormous pressure to accept the Muslim courts for arbitration of disputes - including family law disputes.
Advocates for the Islamic tribunals have argued that one of the beauties of free and open societies in the west is their flexibility. But the very same ‘flexibility” provides the Islamists with the opportunity to impose their own rigid and oppressive rules on a specific community in the society. Mr. Momtaz Ali, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, and a leading proponent of the Islamic tribunals has said: "It - the Islamic tribunal - offers not only a variety of choices, but shows the real spirit of our multicultural society," The very same Mr. Ali also says: “…On religious grounds, a Muslim who would choose to opt out … would be guilty of a far greater crime than a mere breach of contract – and this would be tantamount to blasphemy or apostasy”. You are aware that blasphemy and apostasy are among the worst crimes in Islam, in many countries punishable by death.
The problem posed by Islamic fundamentalists attempting to create a parallel legal system is an argument agains the development of private legal systems. If marriage law became privatized with couples able to enter into their own customized marriage contracts with binding arbitration this would set up the conditions to allow Muslim women to be systematically pressured into very unfavorable terms by the radical Muslim fundamentalists.
In virtually every western country with a sizeable Muslim minority there is pressure from Islamists for a separate civil and criminal law. They seek to establish their own state to oppress people, legally and officially. There must be no state within a state. Yet this is precisely the objective that the Islamic advocates are pursuing. They argue that it is their duty as good Muslims to work for precisely this end. And this end precisely leads to more forced marriages, more honour killings, more Islamic schools, more FGM-s done secretly, and more harassment and intimidation towards women and girls in ghettos.
Where are the feminists in Canada on this issue? Do they think that women can only be oppressed by white males?
David Frum (originally from Canada - not sure if he's currently a Canadian or American citizen) reports that the Canadian government decided in October 2003 to accept the decisions of this Islamic court system as binding on those who accept its arbitration.
With this decision, taken last October, Canada becomes the first Western country to allow sharia the force of law.
Under sharia, "a woman's testimony ... counts only as half that of a man. So in straight disagreements between husband and wife, the husband's testimony will normally prevail. In questions of inheritance, whilst under Canadian law sons and daughters would be treated equally, under the Sharia daughters receive only half the portion of sons. If the Institute were to have jurisdiction in custody cases, the man will automatically be awarded custody once the children have reached an age of between seven and nine years."
While Frum and Kamguian talk about this Islamic court system as a done deal other articles talk about how the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice is still trying to present itself in a way that will cause Canadian courts to respect its decisions. The October 2003 date that Frum refers to looks to be simply an organizing meeting to try to reach agreement between the many Muslim sects and ethnic groups in Canada. However, that previous report about that meeting claims law on arbitration in Canada has been changed recently in ways that would give an Islamic Sharia court considerable power.
Syed explained that until recent changes in the law, Canadian Muslims have been excused from applying Shariah in their legal disputes.
Arbitration was not deemed to be practical because there was no way to enforce the decisions. Syed said the laws have recently changed with amendments to the Arbitration Act.
''Now, once an arbitrator decides cases, it is final and binding. The parties can go to the local secular Canadian court asking that it be enforced. The court has no discretion in the matter.
''So, the concession given by Shariah is no longer available to us because the impracticality has been removed. In settling civil disputes, there is no choice indeed but to have an arbitration board.''
There is a campaign against this proposed Sharia law court system and one group involved in this campaign is the International Campaign Against Shari'a Court in Canada. Homa Arjomand, coordinator of that organisation, sees Shariah law as a tool for the oppression of women.
On October 21st 2003 , a group of Muslim, elected 30, member council to establish a judicial tribunal for Muslims known as “the Islamic Institute of Civic Justice”. This proposal is designed to persuade Canadian court to uphold decision made under the Shari’a Law.
We strongly believe that this move belongs to the same move that subjected women to various forms of abuse and daily degradation for disobeying Islamic social standards and if Sharia gains legal credibility, it will increase intimidation and threats against innumerable women and it will open the way for future suppression .
But Alia Hogben, president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, expressed reservations about the arbitration committees.
"Who will represent the rights of women?" she asked from Kingston.
"Considering that the purpose of the Islamic arbitration board is to apply Shariah law, rather than the law of Canada, it is an open question at this point if the courts will overturn decisions that are not in accordance with Canadian law," says Janet Epp Buckingham, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Sharia law is not compatible basic human rights. If the Canadian courts try to pretend otherwise many Canadian Muslims will become far less free than they are today.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 April 07 12:36 AM Civilizations Decay|