Saturday, 16 February 2008

Canadian backs Williams' call for extension of Shari'ah

[...] Unlike in some African countries where shariah is imposed as the only law of the land, in Canada all shariah decisions would be subject to the Charter of Rights. Taking part would be voluntary. In other words, putting shariah decisions regarding marriage, family and business disputes under the umbrella of Canadian law would make religious courts more accountable (and help them sometimes be more efficient, culturally sensitive and less expensive than civil courts.)

University of Toronto professor Anvor Emon, who teaches Islamic law, is also worried Canada's shariah debate has been "dumbed-down" by opponents, some of whom resort to "mere Islamophobic sloganeering." Emon astutely says it could be helpful if shariah courts in Canada were subject to democratic principles and diverse interpretations in an Islamic "marketplace."

That way, Emon maintains persuasively, shariah could develop in a more healthy way in Canada -- as Muslims would know they had a choice on which mosque to go to for arbitration, rather than leaving their fate up to some of the country's "patriarchal" or "part-time" imams.

The push for greater regulation of religious courts, under the rubric of the Arbitration Act, basically reflects the Dutch approach to explosive private moral issues, like marijuana use, euthanasia and prostitution.

Most Dutch people don't personally take part in such activities or even like them. But they know they're real and voluntary and, like shariah courts, benefit from being brought out of the shadows and into the light; something which could be accomplished through non-hysterical debate and fair-minded regulation. Read more
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