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Sharia Law In The UK? Is He F*cking Nuts?

Friday, February 8, 2008
Posted in: Uncategorized

asshole.jpg

What the fuck?

Religious and secular groups have criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury after he said the adoption of elements of Islamic sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”.

Dr Rowan Williams said there was a place for finding a “constructive accommodation” in areas such as marriage – allowing Muslim women to avoid western divorce proceedings.

What is this country coming to, when a man of the cloth would suggest something so utterly ridiculous?

The next thing you know, we’ll be condoning the stoning of women who commit adultery.

What an absolute fucktard.

33 Comments »


  • Dawn
    February 8
    9:04 am

    I know! This guy has come out with some crap, but this tops it.

    ReplyReply

  • You’re right, I’ve never read such a load of claptrap in my life. “British values”, “fundamental Muslims”, “Christian values”. Isn’t everyone getting a teensy hot and bothered? Let’s just put the shoe on the other foot for the moment…

    At any one time around the world, Christians of all hues are living, working, and bringing up their children in non-Christian lands. Their dietary habits are catered for (you can buy pork, for example, from UAE to Indonesia); their children are educated in completely independent schooling systems that means they never have to even open, much lest recognise, a local schoolbook (international schools and the IBO system); dress codes do not apply to them (the number of foreign women in sleeveless tops I’ve seen in Muslim countries, and kissing in public in Hindu ones!) and there are a multitude of clubs of societies where the major criterion of membership is that one is a foreigner.

    In fact, in every Muslim country I’ve been to, hotels have bacon and sausages that, although not made with pork, are approximated as closely as possible so that non-Muslim guests feel at home, while still catering to the local population. It’s called accommodation. If all these countries felt that ‘if you don’t like it, you can bloody well leave’, then you would really hear a hue and cry, wouldn’t you?

    At the moment, we’re in Singapore and the local school canteen is halal. This is to cater for the Muslim and Hindu students, even though 80% of the student population is Chinese. This is worse than sharia, because ALL students who want to buy food from the canteen have to eat halal. Even though children can bring lunches from home, I’ve been there at recess, and the children swarm through — Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, Other (that’s us!) — buying whatever they like. There is no outcry of ‘my child is being denied pork!’ or ‘that child is eating meat!’ because this is about the fundamental trait of tolerance.

    Even though my family are meat-eaters, I don’t mind showing respect for other cultures. (As a side-note, most of the practices you’re thinking of as being fundamentalist Muslim, like female circumcision and stoning, are cultural not religious, but let’s not bother with the facts, right?) When I invite a Hindu family to dinner, for example, I don’t serve meat. I don’t feel coerced; I don’t feel like saying, ‘they eat different to us, so fuck ’em!’.

    So how about just stopping for a moment, and thinking things through. In fact, some aspects of sharia were centuries ahead of Western systems, especially when it came to the division of property for divorced Muslim women (if I was an average about-to-get divorced woman, I’d love to have adjudication via sharia than Westminster; no smarmy, underhanded legal shenanigans here), and you can’t generalise from one Muslim population to another because, as I said before, most of it is cultural rather than religious. In the same way, I dare say you wouldn’t see total similarity between an Irish Catholic and a Brazilian one, either.

    I’m sick of seeing Muslims bashed. I’ve walked alone past groups of sober young Muslim men at night, and groups of drunk young Anglo Christians during the day, and I know which I prefer.

    Sorry for the long post but I just had to say something. Oh … and I’m atheist.

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  • Marianne McA
    February 8
    5:22 pm

    I think, in fairness, you should include a link to what the man actually said.

    http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1575

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  • byrdloves2read
    February 8
    8:39 pm

    Thank you, Marianne. It was long, legalistic and very hard in some places to make sense of, but he raises some thought-provoking ideas about the nature of our legal system.

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  • rae
    February 8
    9:14 pm

    @KS

    The archbishop opening his trap has ensured that muslims will get “bashed” as you call it. People in his position should think before they speak. All this has done is ensure that muslims will get even more “bashed” than they did before – even though the vast majority of them have no interest in having Sharia Law in the UK. This kind of talk – however he meant it is a goldmind to narrow minded biggots on both sides – we’ll have the national front and bnp using this on their recruiting posters. As well as those hard line Imans that we have in this country.

    The other thing is that Sharia seems very open to interpetation whether you are a moderate or a strict muslim.

    I also take issue with your point that Christian’s food is provided for them – not all christians eat Pork – if you actually bother to read the bible it is classed as unclean and shouldn’t be eaten but I digress. Secondly what is common in a hotel for western people in a muslim country is not indicitive of what is commonplace in the country as a whole. There are certain dry muslim countries with sharia law that allow alcohol to be served in hotels for foreigners. Then there are others that arrest foreigners in the airport for having a couple of poppy seeds (fell off the sandwich at heathrow according to today’s metro) on their clothes because poppy seeds are illegal in these countries.

    Anyway all this will do is lead to even more segregation not less.

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  • azteclady
    February 8
    9:41 pm

    Not in the UK but presently in a country dealing with the influence of religion in matters of state… I’d rather have laws that are completely separated from ANY and ALL religions–because the application of the same religious law will depend on the interpretation of the dominant religious group, i.e. fundamentalist fanatic or reasonable moderate.

    Not that any systems is perfect but some are clearly better than others.

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  • Karen Scott
    February 8
    10:04 pm

    At any one time around the world, Christians of all hues are living, working, and bringing up their children in non-Christian lands. Their dietary habits are catered for (you can buy pork, for example, from UAE to Indonesia);

    And can the same not be said of Muslims?

    And yes, let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a while. If this situation was reversed, and it was Christians trying to get a mostly Islamic country to adopt their ways, what do you think the reception would be? I think you’ll find that in countries like Indonesia, where the majority of the population are Muslims, Christian churches have been burnt down in protest, just because the Muslims found them offensive.

    Not only that, but there’s also been talk of Christians being forced to convert to Islam. How often does the reverse happen in the western world?

    One law to rule them all, not ten million laws, depending on what faith you happen to follow.

    This isn’t about not letting Muslims practice their faith in peace, this is about not totally losing the identity of a nation. This country is not a muslim state, and I don’t believe that we should be changing the laws to suit people just because they are of a different faith.

    their children are educated in completely independent schooling systems that means they never have to even open, much lest recognise, a local schoolbook (international schools and the IBO system); dress codes do not apply to them (the number of foreign women in sleeveless tops I’ve seen in Muslim countries.

    And the number of women I’ve seen wearing their traditional garb here in England are probably similar to your numbers.

    In this country, there are Muslims who have lived here for years and years, but never bothered trying to learn the language. The upshot of that is that a lot of messages and signs are translated into Urdu, to make things easier for them. Not learning to speak the language of the country that one resides in, is certainly not only restricted to Muslims, God knows Brits abroad have been doing just that for years, but you understand that the points that you made above apply to Muslims living in non-muslim countries too, right?

    In fact, in every Muslim country I’ve been to, hotels have bacon and sausages that, although not made with pork, are approximated as closely as possible so that non-Muslim guests feel at home, while still catering to the local population. It’s called accommodation. If all these countries felt that ‘if you don’t like it, you can bloody well leave’, then you would really hear a hue and cry, wouldn’t you?

    And you think that serving pork in a hotel is remotely similar to changing laws just to suit a particular religion?

    At the moment, we’re in Singapore and the local school canteen is halal. This is to cater for the Muslim and Hindu students, even though 80% of the student population is Chinese. This is worse than sharia, because ALL students who want to buy food from the canteen have to eat halal.

    Well, in this country, halal meat is offered as an option in a lot of the places where Muslims reside, so I’m not sure what your point is at this point?

    Even though children can bring lunches from home, I’ve been there at recess, and the children swarm through — Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, Other (that’s us!) — buying whatever they like. There is no outcry of ‘my child is being denied pork!’ or ‘that child is eating meat!’ because this is about the fundamental trait of tolerance.

    Have you been in British schools lately? Because I have, and I can tell you, the only faith who aren’t exclusively catered to, are the children who happen to be Christian. Harvest festivals used to be celebrated in schools every year, but some schools scrapped it because they felt that celebrating it might offend or alienate the people who weren’t Christians.

    Even though my family are meat-eaters, I don’t mind showing respect for other cultures. (As a side-note, most of the practices you’re thinking of as being fundamentalist Muslim, like female circumcision and stoning, are cultural not religious, but let’s not bother with the facts, right?)

    Showing respect for other cultures is one thing, changing your laws to suit them is another, and I am patently against it.

    When I invite a Hindu family to dinner, for example, I don’t serve meat. I don’t feel coerced; I don’t feel like saying, ‘they eat different to us, so fuck ’em!’.

    It seems to me KS Augustin that you’re talking about one thing and I’m talking about something else entirely. I’m talking about the suggestion that sharia law be integrated into a Christian country, being utterly ridiculous, you seem to think I’m saying that all Muslims should be booted out of the country. Stop hyperventilating long enough to read what I wrote, and leave the Politically Correct bullshit where it belongs.

    So how about just stopping for a moment, and thinking things through. In fact, some aspects of sharia were centuries ahead of Western systems, especially when it came to the division of property for divorced Muslim women …..and you can’t generalise from one Muslim population to another because, as I said before, most of it is cultural rather than religious.

    I’m sick of seeing Muslims bashed. I’ve walked alone past groups of sober young Muslim men at night, and groups of drunk young Anglo Christians during the day, and I know which I prefer.

    Is it bashing to say that I as a non-denom don’t want any part of Sharia law in my country? Is it?

    And you know, when people make the comparisons above that you just did, they come off sounding like an arse. I live in a small town where people of all faiths, colour etc live. I rarely walk past sober young muslim men or drunk Anglo Christian men, but I do walk past men who regardless of their religion, colour etc, sometimes behave like arseholes, or worse. A Pakistani man killed his sister for running off with another man a few years ago in my town. At the same time, a young black boy fed his cat to his dog, and a young girl was raped by a white man. You see what I’m saying?

    Sorry for the long post but I just had to say something. Oh … and I’m atheist.

    And I am bordeline aetheist, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care when the leader of the Church of England suggests that this country should change its laws to suit a particular religion.

    This has been a hot topic in England all day long, and the common theme that I am hearing is how divisive such an act would be. The British National Party would have a field day if this suggestion was ever seriously considered in this country.

    As for Western intolerance, well I daresay the west are more tolerant than Islamic Muslims in their own countries.

    Let me give you some examples shall I?

    Saudi-Arabia: In the last two months, 15 Christian expatriates have been jailed for worshiping in private homes, and three have been tortured, according to the religious rights organization International Christian Concern.

    An information officer at the Saudi embassy in Washington, who declined to give his name, denied this Tuesday: “As far as we know this is not true. We are not aware of any in jail at this time,” he said.

    No religion other than Islam is allowed in the kingdom, and there is no church. When asked about this, Abdullah M. Khouj, rector of the Islamic Center in Washington, replied, “This is a matter to be negotiated between governments.”

    Sudan: Some 2 million people, chiefly Christians, have been killed in a civil war fought by the radical Islamic regime in the north of the country against non-Arab population in the south, according to several sources including Marshall and Diane Knippers’ Institute on Religion and Democracy.

    For several years now, international religious rights organizations have reported that Christians are being raped, tortured to death and crucified.

    Somalia: Anybody found out to be a Christian will quickly be beheaded by Muslim vigilantes, Marshall said.

    Nigeria: In 12 states, versions of Shari’a law, the Islamic penal code, have been imposed – in violation of the constitution of that African federal republic.
    After the imposition of Islamic law, riots ensued killing 5,000 in the city of Kaduna alone, said Marshall. Other reports put the death toll at around 1,000.

    In other Muslim countries, such as Algeria, Islamic radicals opposed to the government are killing other Muslims, primarily women and children although they have also murdered priests, nuns and even a bishop, Marshall explained.

    Others, such as the once-tolerant, formerly republican African nation of Mauritania are now taking tougher measures against Christians, Marshall continued. “If you arrive with a Bible, they’ll take it off you. And it’s illegal to preach Christianity to the locals.”

    Becoming a Christian in many Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan can mean that one loses one’s job, one’s ability to be educated, one’s family, and even one’s life, Wendy Norvell of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board told UPI.

    Added Robert Reccord, president of the SBC’s North American Mission board, “We look forward to the day when Christians living in Islamic countries will have the same religious freedoms that Muslims currently enjoy in the United States and Canada.”

    Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

    So you see KS Augustin, it’s not all cut and dried as you seem to think it is.

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  • B
    February 8
    10:17 pm

    Oh My God. I saw the newspaper this morning and felt absolute fear in the deepest part of my guts as soon as I saw the headline.

    I felt like throwing up. It felt like propaganda against muslims. Instant tapping into feelings of ‘omg they’re taking over my country and going to marry 4 wives and my hand is going to be cut off for forgetting my bus travelcard!’ in the ignorant. Talk about scaremongering: ‘SHARIA LAW IN THE UK’.

    Then I see you mention it on your blog and have instant fear creep up inside me.

    The way the newspapers phrased it; I’m looking at the BBC website and crying inside.

    Have any of you watched Britz?

    The UK has no responsibility whatsoever to adopt laws it does not see as right. Muslims differ greatly between themselves about what is law and what is not.

    *reading his speech* ‘As Any muslim commentator will insist’! LOL. I can’t get two muslims to agree about which days to fast, nevermind the nature of sharia or what-have-you!

    On a serious note, the archbishop seemed to be making a fairly muddled speech there about the possibility that theology inevitably plays a role within the law. The implications of ‘sharia’, none of which he mentioned, were all happily derived by everyone else. They’re saying he ‘wants’ it when he was discussing it in a rather academic fashion.

    His comments instantly reignited the fear of muslims in people’s minds should they’ve been dormant, but it wasn’t what he said; it’s what everyone else decided to say about what he said. That’s what frightens me. Instantly, sharia law was about brutality, opressing women and so on when he was saying that muslims bind themselves by sharia law, regardless of whether the state recognises it or not.

    My thoughts are similarly muddled. But to me it seems that it’s the reaction to what he’s saying that’s stirring the pot.

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  • B
    February 8
    10:24 pm

    Eh, if you think something is right — regardless of whether you’re religious or not — you’d usually want it to be global. Strict Vegeterians (but not all!) want to force everyone else to be vegeterian, Strict Christians (but not all!) want to force everyone to be Christian. And so on.

    This is what we’re talking about here. The Archbishop seemed to be talking about the possibility that theology could be — and is already — integrated into the legal system, and everyone reacted with instant fear, as if suddenly a brutal law could sneak up from Islamic origins and bite them in the arse.

    I’ll agree that he seemed to know his comments might spark a fuelled debate, which is why he chose Islam to demonstrate the point he was making.

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  • B
    February 8
    10:27 pm

    I can’t help but think noone would have reacted with fear if it was Judaism, Hinduism, etc. even though there’re probably people on their side looking to change some laws. Christianity’s ok since it’s pretty much integrated within the law more or less.

    (eh, sorry for the spam)

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  • azteclady
    February 8
    10:28 pm

    I don’t know about the UK, but here I’m leery of having Christianity getting much chummier with the State–law wise.

    Definition of marriage, anyone?

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  • kis
    February 8
    10:41 pm

    If there are aspects of Shari’a law that would benefit our legal system (and *everybody* served by it), I don’t see any problem with writing those individual aspects into legislation. This can be done without adopting the entire shabang, and without retaining any religious bias. Some laws just make sense. Treating homicide as a crime may coincide with Thou Shalt Not Kill, but that doesn’t mean it should be viewed as a “religious law”.

    And I think Karen (and most people) would be equally as offended if laws openly based on Hinduism, Sikhism, Fundamental Mormonism, Satanism, Snake Handling, Voudou, and extreme right-wing Christianity were adopted into law in our secular countries.

    This is not the first time Muslims (or others) would push their values onto societies they have *chosen* to join. In the Netherlands, they put out propaganda films to their immigration offices in all predominantly Muslim countries. These films show women walking topless on the beach, two gays necking on a park bench, women posing in their underpants behind glass in the red light district, people drinking alcohol and smoking pot. The message is, “If you don’t want to see this shit, don’t effing come live here, because we are not going to change for you guys.” They wouldn’t have to put out those films if they hadn’t had problems.

    Religious law in principle is almost always a bad idea. Here’s the test. Hold the law up and ask “Who cares?” If the only answer is “God, my priest or my Imam,” then it shouldn’t be a law in any decent country.

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  • Karen Scott
    February 8
    11:29 pm

    My thoughts are similarly muddled. But to me it seems that it’s the reaction to what he’s saying that’s stirring the pot.

    Right now, the country is taut with underlying racial tension, and anti-muslim feeling. Britain is becoming a nation of xenophobes, and this has mostly been brought about by the liberal lefties who want to heal the world. The Archbishop knowing all this, still felt the need to raise an issue that was guaranteed to raise the hackles of the people in this country?

    May I suggest it was him that was stirring the pot, the media just did what they always do. They found scab and are picking at it.

    However you paint it, the only examples of Sharia law that many of us in the west have, are those extreme examples where perhaps a woman has been stoned to death because she committed adultery, or something similarly heinous.

    Cultural or not, Sharia law is open to many interpretations, and that is the most frightening thing of all.

    Like AL says, law and religion should be separate and never the twain shall meet.

    B, everyday in this country I listen to debates about immigration and how foreigners are taking over the country. I listen to these debates, with half an ear, because I and every other sensible person in this country knows that were it not for those bunch of ‘foreigners’, who are willing to work hard, whilst some of the natives spend their life on the dole, the country would grind to a halt.

    This is not the same debate. Not even close.

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  • Marianne McA
    February 8
    11:31 pm

    Karen – just out of interest, have you read what he said?

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  • Marianne McA
    February 9
    1:11 am

    Karen,

    I disagree that liberalism causes xenophobia.

    I disagree that the best way to deal with anti-muslim tensions is to avoid discussion of the issues.

    I disagree with the suggestion that giving an academic lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice is ‘stirring the pot.’

    I think the way the press reported the Archbishop’s comments is open to question.

    I cannot see your point about Sharia law. If all we know about it are ‘extreme examples’ why are you so upset by the Archbishop trying to approach the subject in a more rounded way?

    I agree with you that religion and law should be seperated.

    When you say ‘this is not the same debate’ – I’m not sure what we’re debating.

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  • Karen, while we might not always agree, I always appreciate your passion. It’s not my intent to forcibly force my opinion down someone’s throat (and a reply to you is more suited to a conversation rather than typed words), so let’s leave it at that.

    And to those of you who point out that Islam is prey to various interpretations, you’re so right. The moment I find a friendly, neighbourhood imam, that’s one thing I want to talk about. For example, when Muhammad said (to the effect), ‘pray, but tie your camel first’, what did he mean? Take care of your worldly affairs first before approaching God? Use common sense in all dealings? Animals are dumb? Something else? Questions abound.

    To rae, who said,

    I also take issue with your point that Christian’s food is provided for them – not all christians eat Pork – if you actually bother to read the bible it is classed as unclean and shouldn’t be eaten but I digress.

    I was, of course, only using pork as an example of a chasm between two religions. I’m sure that, somewhere in the world are vegetarian Christians … who knew? 😉 The book to which you refer is the Old Testament, which is also part of the Jewish canon, therefore there is no surprise regarding the injunction not to eat pork. The only truly Christian books in the Bible are the New Testament onwards, which are repudiated by the Jews.

    So thank you, rae, for your judgement on my religious knowledge but, to save you further embarrassment, I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover several times, as well as books from several other religions. One should always know well what one criticises.

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  • rae
    February 9
    2:30 pm

    [quote]I was, of course, only using pork as an example of a chasm between two religions. I’m sure that, somewhere in the world are vegetarian Christians … who knew?[/quote]
    A flawed example as these aren’t Christian only hotels you are talking about. They cater to foreign nationals, only a small proportion of whom may be christian. And I repeat what is allowed in a hotel catering to foreign nationals is not indicitive of what is allowed in the country as a whole.

    I’m sure you can probably find Pork to use your example and alcohol in certain hotels/bars for foreign nationals in a country like Sudan but you wouldn’t find it legally outside those outlets. Sudan is also rather famous for locking up a woman for allowing her class to call a teddy bear Mohammed.

    I don’t know why you assume that I’m embarrassed. Most Christian churches use the bible in its entirity so I’m not sure why you think the old testment is classed as not truly christian. Surely if that was the case then the bible would consist of New Testement alone? I can only think of one branch of christianity where that uses the New Testament alone.

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  • cecilia
    February 9
    5:15 pm

    I think that the issue of religion is a distracting one from (what seems to me) the more fundamental and worrying issue, which is, can a democracy (which operates, ideally, under rule of law) have two systems of law side by side? If, for example, you were to have divorce courts operate according to “regular” UK law for some people, and sharia law for Muslims, how is that going to work? (Even assuming that you’d never have a mixed Muslim and non-Muslim couple, how would that not cause big constitutional problems?) Ontario not so long ago was flirting with having sharia-based family courts, but eventually they abandoned the plan.

    On another note, I often feel that the Anglican Church these days is making a lot of decisions based on post-colonialist guilt. But I’m still bitter about the spinelessness over the gay-marriage issue, so what do I know.

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  • azteclady
    February 9
    5:30 pm

    Cecilia, you just hit the nail squarely on the head:
    “can a democracy (which operates, ideally, under rule of law) have two systems of law side by side?”

    Particularly when one of the systems has death penalty for several so-define “crimes” that don’t physically harm others. Like say, a woman being in the company of a male not related to her? (check out http://www.religioustolerance.org/isl_adul1.htm )

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  • Marianne McA
    February 9
    7:35 pm

    can a democracy (which operates, ideally, under rule of law) have two systems of law side by side?

    I’m not claiming to have done more than read the Archbishop’s speech, but I don’t think anyone has suggested it should. The people who are defending the Archbishop are drawing parallels with arbitration – that under the UK laws, as they stand, we have arrangements where a dispute can be settled by binding arbitration, should both participants choose to settle it that way. The fact that arbitration exists doesn’t mean that the rule of law within the UK is threatened.

    I’m wondering if it would work like the Heather Mills/Paul McCartney divorce – if they agreed a settlement out of court, the court might well implement it. Doesn’t mean they’re above the law, or that there are two sets of laws in operation. That’s a wild guess though.

    And worth saying that the a citizen in the UK is subject to by-laws, which may be different from town to town, the laws of their country, which may be slightly different in Wales than in Scotland, UK law, and European law. So in some senses, yes, there can be multiple sets of laws operating concurrently in a democracy.

    Azteclady – I just think it’s like worrying whether the US could bring in a monarchy, or Canada could bring in laws suggesting that people have to hop backwards all the time. No-one has suggested bringing in that sort of law, so why discuss it?

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  • kis
    February 9
    8:15 pm

    Cecilia, in Canada we have a prime example of one law for one group (albeit not religious, per se) and another for everyone else.

    Just look at fishing and hunting rights for natives versus non-natives in Canada. Commercial fishermen sometimes have openings of mere minutes where they can legally fish salmon. Natives do not have this constraint, even though many of them go on to sell the fish they catch–supposedly for food and ceremonial purposes–to non-natives. It doesn’t affect the whole country, but boy does it make for some hard feelings in the fishing industry.

    I can only imagine what would happen if elements of religious law found their way into our legal system–especially if they only applied to one religious group. We already have a double standard under the law in Canada when it comes to the mostly white secular population and certain minorities. It is an unfortunate consequence of multiculturalism that we end up with not just the best aspects of immigrant cultures, but often the very ones these immigrants have come to Canada to get away from. I find it sad that people will flee religious oppression in their homeland, only to impose the same oppression on themselves here in our free society–and then sometimes go to the extreme of trying to impose it on others.

    I don’t think all elements of Shari’a law are despicable. But I do think adopting them openly as Shari’a would encourage some Muslims to consider enacting other less innocuous elements of Shari’a, such as stoning for adultery, being lashed for being in the company of an unrelated male, etc. We already have examples of honor killings in Canada. I’m not interested in living in a place where a woman can be beaten for showing her hair in public or leaving the house unaccompanied.

    Moreover, I think half the anger secular people feel over these issues stems from the fact that they are told, over and over, that they are not allowed to feel anything at all about them. That any debate of this issue or opinion that doesn’t coincide with the latest attempt to undermine our secular culture is somehow hateful and racist. I’m not Christian, but I acknowledge that religion as a part of my cultural heritage. Christians spent much of history oppressing women and forcing their values on others. One would hope they have learned what a bad idea that is. It grieves me to think that Islamists might not be able to learn by our poor example, and will have to go through the same, harsh, violent, bloody lesson we did. It isn’t that our respective religions are so very different. It’s just that Christianity has already “been there, done that”, and realized it’s just a shitty place to be.

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  • azteclady
    February 9
    8:52 pm

    Marianne McA, perhaps no one suggested it, but it seems that many people read it that way, wrongly or not. And it would seem that many people are afraid of the harsher aspects of religious law.

    Or, what kis just said above.

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  • kis
    February 9
    10:19 pm

    The question of using Shari’a as a model for arbitration is largely a moot point. Two parties in a civil dispute are free to use any system as a model for their negotiations–Shari’a, Buddhism, Native healing circles, No-givesies-backsies, whatever you like, as long as the court-appointed arbitrator does not feel anyone’s rights are being disregarded. I don’t think anyone has a problem with this.

    But to leave a divorcing husband and wife entirely to their own devices, or with an arbitrator versed only in Shari’a and not in the laws of the country as a whole just holds the door open for the continued possibility of injustice and oppression of women. It smacks of those times not that long ago in the States when a black woman could be tried by a jury of “her peers”, ie, twelve well-heeled white men. It’s like interviewing a possible child abuse victim with the abuser present in the room. It might not be the dumbest thing ever, but it’s trying pretty hard.

    Truth is, we have laws in the western world that coincide with values we can all agree on. Killing is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Hurting people is wrong. I don’t need some god to tell me these things. No one should.

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  • Marianne McA
    February 9
    11:55 pm

    Azteclady, I agree people may have read it that way. But if you think seriously for a moment of the kind of cultural and legal changes it would be necessary to make for the UK, within the framework of Europe, to institute a law requiring the death penalty for a woman who is found in the company of an unrelated man – it’s crazy to talk as if it’s a real issue.
    And there is an interesting discussion to be had about whether the Archbishop has a point about how we accommodate religious conscience in an effectively secular society.

    Kis. Yes. To be fair, he does touch on that issue.

    If any kind of plural jurisdiction is recognised, it would presumably have to be under the rubric that no ‘supplementary’ jurisdiction could have the power to deny access to the rights granted to other citizens or to punish its members for claiming those rights

    But your point is, I think, that even with the best intentions the system might be effectively oppressive, and I think that’s a valid concern.

    Truth is, we have laws in the western world that coincide with values we can all agree on. Killing is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Hurting people is wrong. I don’t need some god to tell me these things. No one should.

    That’s probably the part that I’m interested in. ‘No one should’ is your opinion, but one of the Western values we agree on is the right to freedom of religion. So, if you accept that religious people have a right to exist, it takes you on to an interesting discussion of how that can be accommodated. Whether it should be accommodated. And in one sense, even though I’m a Christian, I think it shouldn’t be – I certainly believe in the separation of church and state. But if what he’s saying is that as a Christian I may choose not to exercise some of the rights that I am afforded by the state because of my beliefs – that I may choose even to act against what a non-religious person might see as my best interests – I’m fine with that. If I join a religion that requires me to sit in a shed for seventeen years listening to Abba, and obey any dictates that Bjorn might throw my way – you’d be entitled to think me a nutter, but isn’t my right to adhere to Bjorn’s ‘laws’ what freedom of religion is?

    Dunno.

    Sorry Karen. Shutting up now.

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  • cecilia
    February 10
    12:15 am

    Kis, I know about the hunting and fishing rights, and that’s an interesting comparison. I get the impression it’s a point against my argument, but I’m not sure how it goes against what I said. Aboriginal people have different fishing rights because the Charter protects pre-existing treaty or other rights. Emphasis on pre-existing. They’ve had a different set of rules for years, true, but for the most part, those have worked against them (like not being allowed to vote, authorities feeling free to whisk their kids away to residential schools and so on). My point is, first, you couldn’t pay me to be an Aboriginal for the purpose of gaining their “advantages,” and second, that this seems quite a different matter. The government decided, in their process of patriating the Constitution, to acknowledge deals previously made. My comment was about the prospect of adding a new systemic element, which *if* it meant some citizens underwent a parallel judicial system not based on the constitution, I feel would be extremely problematic (to say the least). As much as people like to bash it, there’s nothing in the Multiculturalism Act that says that a person can justify any action by saying “Yeah, but that’s my heritage.” You still have to act within the bounds of the Charter.

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  • kis
    February 10
    5:56 am

    Cecilia, I wasn’t actually disagreeing with you. Merely pointing out that there are examples of parallel systems in our (Canadian) government. There are other exmples of unequal treatment which are not in place just to honor pre-existing treaties, although I chose the Aboriginal fishery because I thought it is a fairly simple issue for those not familiar with it.

    I have long been an opponent of state-entrenched multiculturalism–not because it’s evil or wrong, but simply because it encourages people to focus on what makes us different from each other, rather than those things that make us all human. Focusing only on differences can be awfully divisive in a country where so many cultures live together and have to try to get along. That doesn’t mean I am against allowing everyone their own cultural and religious practices.

    I don’t need some god to tell me these things. No one should.

    I’m not saying people should not be free to practice whatever religon they like, even Fundamentalist Abbaism. What I’m saying is that if the only reason for not being allowed to do something is because it offends some god, it should not be a law. People should be allowed to choose not to eat pork if their god tells them so. But, dammit, the government can have my barbequed spareribs when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

    And I still have my reservations as to how well a woman could expect to do in divorce proceedings if the people she was dealing with were her husband and a cleric only versed in Shari’a. If the Shari’a model is employed under the watchful eye of the secular courts, I have no issues at all with it.

    On the Aboriginal issue, which I find particularly vexing, I would have to say that the UK does not have a monopoly on post-colonial guilt. But acting on our guilt over residential schools, theft of land, the breaking or disregarding of treaty rights, and all the wrongs Europeans have done to Natives in this country, doesn’t necessarily help anyone. Instead of making gross accommodations that get everyone else’s backs up and perpetuate the dependence of Natives, maybe we should admit the status quo is not working for anyone. We don’t need to modify the system we have now. We need a new system.

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  • Shirley
    February 11
    7:51 pm

    I come from a different time but I’ll tell you, religion and law shouldn’t mix. Ever. And as far as the 10 Commandments go – well, like George Carlin says – they’re pretty much no brainers. They don’t have much to do with religion, despite context and a couple of specific Commandments. They’re pretty much common sense rules, you know.

    And as for the whole Muslim bashing… well, I don’t give a flying fuck. I know, I’m immediately a bigot or racist or whatever. Stick it in your pipe and smoke it.

    I don’t care what god(s) you worship or how you do it. I don’t hate Muslims at all. But the idea of a religion – this far into the modern era – that still has ‘honor’ killings, condoned stonings and beating for women and children, and an allowance for men to philander and to mutiliate women, flat out fucking disgusts me. As people, I’m sure on the whole they are terrific. I even know a Muslim couple in my little town here. Great, very nice, always willing to help this old lady with her purchases. It’s their religion I find abhorrent and the fact that this ‘normal’ group of Islamism don’t knock the ever loving shit out of the freaks.

    Further, it seems any time something whacko is done by a Muslim, immediately the Islamist propaganda wagon’s wheels get turning and I have to hear “True Islam isn’t like this”. Excuse me, I watch world news, not American. I used to listen to it on an old Ham radio, read from the pages by other operators. Now, thanks to my children and grandchildren, I can watch on the internet. The whacko’s not only seem to make up the norm, but they also appear to be the most powerful movers and shakers among the Islamic community. And if I’m wrong, I couldn’t care less. Any one who thinks that I’m going to sit back and let some asshat try to take my country back into the stone age without a fight needs to have another think!

    So, until ‘normal’ Islam gets a fucking handle on their radical brethren, I don’t intend to change my position on it, nor do I expect the rest of the world will either. The reason Islam is so scary is because it’s so archaic when it comes to prescribed punishments and the ‘place’ of women and girls and for those of us who know, fought, or continue to fight for women’s rights, Islam looks a whole lot like a slide into the madness we’ve struggled so hard to get past.

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  • azteclady
    February 11
    8:12 pm

    Erm…

    *hesitation*

    Oh what the hell, caution has never been my motto.

    Shirley, from where I sit: saying that because radical muslims get lots of news air that must mean that most muslims are radical would be like saying that because the Phelps get so much news then most Christians are homophobic asshats.

    In other words, it doesn’t follow.

    However, I’m with you in separation of church (any and all churches) and state. And the wider the separation, the better as far as I’m concerned.

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  • kis
    February 12
    1:22 am

    Said it before, will say it again. The problem with any silent moderate majority is that they are essentially silent. Islam has to step up and own its own difficult brethren, put a leash and muzzle on them and prove to the world they are not all like that. Just saying it isn’t doing anything but absolve them of all responsibility for change. Put your freaking money where your mouth is.

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  • Said it before, will say it again. The problem with any silent moderate majority is that they are essentially silent. Islam has to step up and own its own difficult brethren, put a leash and muzzle on them and prove to the world they are not all like that. Just saying it isn’t doing anything but absolve them of all responsibility for change. Put your freaking money where your mouth is.

    The problem with that solution though lies in the fact that most religions advocate free will, to choose between what is right and what is wrong, and that each person is responsible for their own choices.

    It would be like everybody hating any and all ‘soccer’ mom types because a few of them have thrown punches at their kids games. Should all soccer moms stand and say loudly ‘we aren’t all like that’? It won’t do any good and it won’t stop that madness, either. As long as free will exists, the madness will as well.

    The silent majority isn’t usually all that silent, it’s that it is working in ways that aren’t going to be easily seen~but they don’t ‘do’ it to be seen, they do it to make a difference and making a scene of it takes away from a selfless act.

    As long as free will exists, you’re going to have zealots. You’re going to have radicals. But saying that all are like that is an insult to people like Benazir Bhutto. She gave her life trying to make things better… and if that isn’t trying to push for a change, then I can’t think of a single thing that would.

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  • kis
    February 12
    7:28 am

    But saying that all are like that is an insult to people like Benazir Bhutto.

    I’m not saying they are all like that. Not at all. But I am saying that all Muslims need to address the issue, and not just shrug it off by saying, “Well, we’re not like that.”

    A few have done so. I can recall a Muslim author on a talk show not too long ago saying radical fundamentalist Islam of the type practiced by the Taliban “is not a religion but a mental illness”. Too many people like him are afraid to speak, for fear of reprisal. It’s hard to blame them, but it doesn’t change the fact that if they don’t speak up against it, and if they don’t put some action behind their words, it will be the status quo from now on.

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  • CB
    February 12
    5:19 pm

    Kis said: I can recall a Muslim author on a talk show not too long ago saying radical fundamentalist Islam of the type practiced by the Taliban “is not a religion but a mental illness”. Too many people like him are afraid to speak, for fear of reprisal. It’s hard to blame them, but it doesn’t change the fact that if they don’t speak up against it, and if they don’t put some action behind their words, it will be the status quo from now on.

    Kis, might that have been Ed Husain, author of The Islamist? A second-generation British man, he was radicalized in school. He went through a period of actively politicizing radical Islam himself, and was very successful at it. Fortunately he had his doubts, did a lot of research and soul-searching, came out the other end, and re-adopted the religion of his parents–Islam as a gentle, spiritual position with no connection to politics. A very good book, BTW, on how radicalization happens in the first place.

    As for your call for other moderate Muslims to speak out, I totally agree with you. Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie are prime examples to them of what happens if you do, though, so while I wish they would, I can’t blame them, either.

    I don’t care for any kind of extreme, controlling dogma that tries to force its narrow-minded will on the majority, myself, whether it’s religious, communist or whatever. Let’s have one just and fair set of secular laws applicable to all. I’d prefer more separation of church and state in the UK. I certainly don’t want unelected bishops sitting in the House of Lords voting on issues such as gay rights, for example.

    As an aside, but relevant to the conversation. It will be interesting to see what happens with Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. He’s stated publicly that he doesn’t “believe” in the Theory of Evolution, and he wants to rewrite that great document, the American Constitution, so that it is in line with the Bible and the living God. But whose interpretation of God’s laws, I ask myself? Interpretation being the operative word.

    Linky

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  • kis
    February 12
    5:46 pm

    Mike Huckabee belongs in a mental institution–not necessarily because he’s religious, but because he actually believes the American public could possibly put up with his evolution-denying, abortion-abolishing, put-god-back-in-schools crap.

    And I’m pretty sure Ed Husain was the guy. I think I saw him on the Daily Show. The interview made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Hope no fundamentalist Jihadists fatwa his ass.

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