Dark Christianity
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dogemperor [userpic]
Interesting ramifications...


September 14, 2005

While we have been focused on the heart-rending news about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, our neighbors to the north have been going bonkers. Not that we'd notice what they are doing up there even if there wasn't a tragedy. But the craziness that was unfolding in Canada last week merits comment simply because it was so outrageous.

In the province of Ontario, the government was considering allowing Islamic tribunals to mediate civil, family and marital disputes between Muslims. That meant local imams could arbitrate between a husband and wife, father and child without a hearing in civil court. Sharia law would rule. And Ontario would be the first government in the Western world to allow Islamic law to settle disputes.

As one would expect, the placards were hoisted. Women marched not only in front of the provincial government offices in Toronto but in London, Stockholm, Paris and Amsterdam. As Globe and Mail columnist Lysiane Gagnon noted, nobody in Canada believed adulterous women would be stoned on the streets, "but the sanctioning of Sharia-based civil rules by a liberal democracy -- a clear case of multiculturalism gone mad -- is ample cause for worry."

Taj Hashmi, a professor at the York Centre for Asian Research, York University in Toronto wrote: (on a wonderfully named Web site called Muslims Wakeup, Prayer is Better Than Sleep): "It is quite puzzling that secular Canada should toy with the idea of incorporating Sharia into its legal system while several Muslim countries are gradually replacing the Sharia with secular codes and some have already done away with it." Puzzling indeed.

Under Sharia law only a husband can sue for divorce and once it is granted he has custody of the sons and daughters who have reached the age of puberty. Spousal support is almost nonexistent after a few months.

In Saudi Arabia, Sharia law has been used to prevent women from driving. In Nigeria an Islamic court sentenced a 31-year-old mother to death for having sex outside of marriage; human rights groups fought successfully for her acquittal. Malaysian women need a note from their fathers or husbands before they are allowed to travel. According to the BBC, most of the 1,800 women behind bars in Pakistan are there for offenses deemed crimes under Islamic law.

Iraqi women were so concerned that Sharia law would dominate the Iraqi constitution -- trumping civil law -- they took to the streets last month. The women said they had more rights under the secular government of Saddam Hussein.

So why, you might ask, did the Ontario government, that politically correct legislature, consider a proposal to accept Sharia law? It cited the cause of multiculturalism.

In 1991, the Ontario government passed the Ontario Arbitration Act, which allowed Jews and Christians to take civil and marital cases before religious arbitration. Rabbis could then adjudicate fights over inheritances and priests over disputes between parishes. Muslim groups in Ontario, quite understandably, wanted the same rights.

Ontario had thus backed itself into a corner. It was forced to either undo the Arbitration Act or give Muslims the same latitude as Jewish and Christian mediators. In fact, the discussion about including Sharia law brought protests from Orthodox Jewish women who claimed the Arbitration Act took away some of their rights.

So the government did the only right thing. Last Sunday, the premier of the province, Dalton McGuinty, said Ontario will ban all faith-based arbitrations. Thank goodness he came to his senses; otherwise we'd have to "blame Canada" for being crazier than one of those loons on its $2 coins.