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- On March 9, 2011
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The Guardian has published a piece calling for the opening up of Sharia courts. You can read the piece here.
Here is my brief response though I will address it more fully at the 12 March conference:
Opposition to Sharia law is widespread and not just in Britain but primarily in countries under Islamic rule because people there are the first victims of such laws and also at the forefront of resisting it.
Even with increased transparency and scrutiny, they will remain bad for women and children in particular. This is because they are based on religious laws, which are fundamentally discriminatory and often brutal.
If one is concerned about people’s rights rather than the right of religion to do as it pleases, then the obvious response would be not increased scrutiny but a demand to end such courts.
That the Beth Din has existed for a century before does not deny the fact that both Sharia courts and the Beth Din have no place in the legal system. If you look at the campaign against Sharia courts in Ontario, Canada, that campaign was able to end the role of all religious courts, including the Beth Din in family matters. The same must be done here.
Just because the far right or racists also oppose Sharia law doesn’t make it a no go area. It’s like saying Iranian dissidents can’t oppose US militarism because the the Islamic Republic of Iran is also against it.
In fact, it makes it even more urgent for progressive and secular forces to step in and push both Islamism and the far-Right back and defend humanity and 21 century values.
What is important to note is that Sharia law is the demand of Islamism to restrict citizen rights. Opposing Sharia law is a defence of the equality and rights of all citizens irrespective of their background and a much needed challenge to Islamism.
It is not racist to oppose Sharia laws but racism to deem a large number of our citizens to lower and different standards and rights.
On 12 March, One Law for All and some other organisations are holding a conference on Women’s Rights, Sharia Law and Secularism at ULU in London to discuss these very issues particularly given that it is the centenary of International Women’s Day. Join us at the event to learn more and join a progressive movement for equal rights and one law for all.