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05/17/2004 "Sharia Courts in Canada"

AND I THOUGHT IT WAS BAD THAT THE MUSLIMS WON A COURT CASE IN THE UNITED STATES SO THAT THEY COULD DO THEIR OBNOXIOUS CALL TO PRAYER FROM ELECTRONICALLY AMPLFIED SPEAKERS 5 TIMES A DAY. IGUESS I CAN BE GLAD I AM NOT LIVING IN CANADA. SEE BELOW

Worry About Islamic Courts in CanadaPosted by Robert Klein Engler
Saturday, May 01, 2004
~~o~~

Estimates about the number of Muslims living in Canada range from 600,000 to about a million. Because of Canada's liberal immigration policy, many more Muslims arrive each year. Yet, just as in Europe, Muslims in Canada are not assimilating. Instead, they prefer their own culture and values to that of the West. The most recent example of this lack of assimilation is the institution of Muslim courts in the province of Ontario.

The origin of these Islamic courts lies in a 1991 Ontario law that permits arbitration according to religious principles. Although these Islamic courts do not deal with criminal matters, their existence raises questions about the desire of Muslims to assimilate to Western culture and values, and especially about the rights of woman.

According to an article in the Washington Post (April 28, 2004), DeNeen L. Brown writes, ''thousands of ...Muslims, taking advantage of a provision of the law in the province of Ontario, can now decide some civil disputes under sharia, (Islamic law based in the Koran) including family disagreements and inheritance, business and divorce issues, using tribunals that include imams, Muslim elders and lawyers. While it is less than full implementation of sharia, local leaders consider it a significant step.''

If local Muslim leaders consider these Islamic courts a significant step, then many women in Canada do not. These women take issue with a difficult passage in the Koran that states: ''Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard (Surah 4:34).'' Some women interpret this passage to mean that in Muslim societies guided by Islamic law, women are second class citizens.

Viewing the establishment of Islamic courts in Canada as a threat to woman, Haydar Ketabchi writes, ''The threat of implementing Islamic courts in Canada under the pretext of 'religious freedom,' 'tolerance' and 'cultural sensitivity' must be taken seriously and exposed as the Islamist's most recent organized attempt to institutionalize male domination, gender apartheid, xenophobia, and Islamic law around the world. Under the aegis of the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice (IICJ), Islamists have organized to impede women's rights and individual liberties.''

The political efforts of Islam in the West ought to be resisted, especially in Canada. Because of Canada's federalist structure, one can imagine in the future not only a French speaking province of Canada, but an Arabic speaking one as well. That can hardly be in the interest of the U. S. or Canada, especially in a time of war. Mohsen Ebrahimi argues this point and writes, ''The struggle to launch Islamic tribunals in Canada, like similar efforts to force Hijab in public institutions in France, is not merely a cultural effort to pursue cultural rights. Both the aims of and the forces behind these efforts are political. These attempts are part and parcel of one of the most reactionary global phenomena of recent history, i.e., the movement of political Islam.''

Meanwhile in Iraq, Robert Reid writing for the Associated Press (February 18, 2004) states that, ''Iraq's U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, has vowed to block any move by Iraqi leaders to make Islamic law the backbone of an interim constitution, which women's groups fear could threaten their rights.''

Reid continues, ''Iraqi women's groups fear that (the institution of Islamic law) could cost them the rights they hold under Iraq's longtime secular system, especially in such areas as divorce, child support and inheritance.'' How ironic, that 5,000 miles away women will be treated better than they are just a few hundred miles across the U.S. border. Given the recent events in Ontario, I suspect there is an iman somewhere, telling his followers that when it comes time to stone the liberals in Canada, they will give him the quarry.

Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago and is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University. His book, ''A Winter of Words'' about the ethnic cleansing at Daley College, is available from amazon.com.


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