Sunday, February 19, 2006

Forty Per Cent of British Muslims Want Sharia Law

I have just got back from doing the paper review on News 24. If you read this before you go out to buy your Sunday papers, let me give you a word of advice. Go back to bed and save your pennies. Rarely has there been such a boring batch of Sunday papers. The main story I talked about was the poll of 500 British Muslims in the Sunday Telegraph. Apparently 20% of them have some degree of sympathy with the 7/7 suicide bombers, 40% believe that Britain should be governed by Sharia law and 9% have no affinity or loyalty to Britain. The last figure may not be surprising as I suspect there may be roughly that number of Christians who hold the same view, but the figure which should send a chill down our spine is the first one. I think it is hard for most of us to understand how anyone would have any degree of sympathy with or understanding for a suicide bomber no matter what their cause. Just as I am afraid I do not understand the mentality of people who go out on the streets urging the heavens to open on anyone who prints a cartoon. I don't remember Christians rioting in the streets when the BBC transmitted Jerry Springer the Opera, which many found profoundly distasteful and blasphemous. This kind of reaction is just not something we can relate to. And how do we compreend the fact that 40% of British Muslims believe Britain should in part be governed by a form of Sharia Law? Are we to have religious police? Are we to have public stonings and allow amputations? In the end Britain is a Christian country and although I am not religious myself, I do believe the time is approaching when we had all better start standing up for the kind of society we believe in. Our country has a tradition of encouraging Judeo-Christian values and at times we are now being made to feel as though we shouldn't stand up for them. Well we should and we must. All that stands in the way of us doing so is a perverted adherance to political correctness. And those who we seem to be afraid of offending laugh at the fact that we seem ashamed to call Christmas by its proper name - that we aren't allowed to have carol services for fear of offending people of other faiths. The one thing we can do tough is to ensure that moderate muslim community representatives make their voices heard. Too often they are drowned out by their more radical brethren. Muslim MPs like Shahid Malik are going to carry an awful lot of responsibility on their shoulders and so is the Muslim Council of Britain. It is time for them to stop their public hand-wringing and display the leadership they have so far sadly lacked.

Take a look at this piece from Canadian journalist Margaret Wente about the introduction of Sharia Law in Canada (yes, really!). Believe me, if we're not careful it'll happen here....

Homa Arjomand knows what it's like to live under sharia law. In Iran, she endured it until someone tipped her off that she was about to be arrested and imprisoned. Many of her activist friends had already been tried and executed. She, her husband and two small children (the youngest was barely one) escaped on a gruelling trip by horseback through the mountains. That was in 1989.Today, she lives in a suburb northeast of Toronto. Her job is helping immigrant Muslim women in distress. And now she is battling the arrival of sharia law in Canada."We must separate religion from the state," she says emotionally. "We're living in Canada. We want Canadian secular law."Sharia law in Canada? Yes. The province of Ontario has authorized the use of sharia law in civil arbitrations, if both parties consent. The arbitrations will deal with such matters as property, marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance. The arbitrators can be imams, Muslim elders or lawyers. In theory, their decisions aren't supposed to conflict with Canadian civil law. But because there is no third-party oversight, and no duty to report decisions, no outsider will ever know if they do. These decisions can be appealed to the regular courts. But for Muslim women, the pressures to abide by the precepts of sharia are overwhelming. To reject sharia is, quite simply, to be a bad Muslim.Ms. Arjomand's cellphone is constantly ringing -- with calls of support, or calls for help, or updates on various crises. A client of hers has just that day died of cancer, leaving behind a nine-year-old daughter. The husband was brutally abusive, and now the dead woman's family is terrified that he's going to take the daughter, who was born in Canada, and go back to Iran. Ms. Arjomand has been trying to get Children's Aid to intervene.In the burgeoning Muslim communities around Toronto, it's customary to settle family disputes internally, by appealing to an imam or an older person in the family. "I have a client from Pakistan who works for a bank," Ms. Arjomand tells me. "She's educated. She used to give all her money to her husband. She had to beg him for money to buy a cup of coffee. Then she decided to keep $50 a month for herself, but he said no."They took the matter to an uncle, who decreed that because the wife had not been obedient, her husband could stop sleeping with her. (This is a traditional penalty for disobedient wives.) He could also acquire a temporary wife to take care of his sexual needs, which he proceeded to do. Now the woman wants a separation. She's fighting for custody of the children, which, according to sharia, belong to the father.The law permitting a sharia court was passed in 1991, when Ontario sought to streamline the overloaded court system (and save money) by diverting certain civil cases to arbitration, including arbitration conducted on religious principles. Jewish courts have operated in the province this way for many years. "People can agree to resolve disputes in any way acceptable," said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario attorney-general. "If they decide to resolve disputes using principles of sharia and using an imam as an arbitrator, that is perfectly acceptable under the arbitration act."Promoters of Islamic law in Canada have been working toward this goal for years. Last fall, they created the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice, which has already chosen arbitrators who have undergone training in sharia and Canadian civil law. The driving force behind the court is a lawyer and scholar named Syed Mumtaz Ali, who was quoted last week saying "to be a good Muslim," all Muslims must use these sharia courts.Many Muslims, including many women, are enthusiastic about giving Islamic law an official place in Canada, and they emphatically deny that it will harm women's interests. On the contrary. They insist that under Islam, a woman's rights are protected. "We follow the Islamic law, secure with a perfect sense of equality between the sexes," wrote Khansa Muhaseen and Nabila Haque in a letter to the Toronto Star, where the sharia debate has been raging fiercely.Opponents of the new tribunals argue that the government's imprimatur will give sharia law even greater legitimacy. Sharia law is based on the Koran, which, according to Muslim belief, provides the divine rules for behaviour. What is called sharia varies widely (in Nigeria, for example, it has been invoked to justify death by stoning). The one common denominator is that it is strongly patriarchal.Alia Hogben is president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, a pro-faith group with members from every Muslim culture. But the council was never consulted about the new sharia courts, and it strongly opposes them."This is a very difficult position for us to be in because we are believing women," says Ms. Hogben. "But to apply Muslim family law in Canada is not appropriate." In Britain, she adds, the government has flatly rejected councils for sharia law.Both Ms. Hogben and Ms. Arjomand -- the former an observant Muslim, the latter not -- are lobbying hard for Ontario to change the arbitration law.(Ms. Arjomand has launched a petition, which you can find through a web search for "International Campaign Against Sharia Courts in Canada.")When Ms. Hogben's family came to Canada 50 years ago, the Muslim population was tiny. In the 1970s, she and her husband started a tiny mosque in Toronto that they shared with Albanians and Bosnians. Today, Canada's Muslim population numbers more than 600,000, and many Muslims live in self-contained enclaves where there is little interaction with the outside world. Ms. Hogben welcomes the stronger sense of identity among Muslims now. But she warns that many of the new arrivals have brought with them a far more rigid version of Islam. "A lot of money is being poured into North America from very traditional groups from Saudi Arabia and Libya," she points out. These groups are not known for their tolerance of other versions of Islam, or for their progressive attitudes toward women.Immigrant women are among the most vulnerable people in Canada. Many don't speak English, are poorly educated, and are isolated from the broader culture. They may live here for decades without learning the language, and stay utterly dependent on their families. They have no idea of their rights under Canadian law.Both Ms. Hogben and Ms. Arjomand say that we are sacrificing these women on the altar of multiculturalism."This is an abuse of multiculturalism, says Ms. Hogben. "There is a lack of courage [on the part of governments], and also a fear of offending Muslim sensitivities.""I chose to come to Canada because of multiculturalism," says Ms. Arjomand, who gave up a career in medical science to work with women who are victims of abuse. "But when I came here, I realized how much damage multiculturalism is doing to women. I'm against it strongly now. It has become a barrier to women's rights."


Anonymous said...

The figures in this poll are indeed terrifying, but to me not that surprising.The Pakistani audit manager of the leading firm of Chartered Accountants which conducts our Company's annual audit, very much appears to share such views, despite having lived in the UK for over 12 years,qualified here and in all outward appearance and general attitude otherwise appears to be fully westernised. If he thinks this way,then one must assume that the millions of other,less educated and more insular Moslems feel likewise.Since the birth rate in their families is probably at least double that of the Christian population, not to mention the countless "illegals" still pouring into this country, one can only imagine the civil strife that lies ahead in 20 - 30 years' time or less.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to you Iain, for having the cojones to raise the issue. This, is something I have suspected since that dreadful Question Time right after 9/11. There was not only tacit approval, but excuses, and some absolute glee from a good number of the Muslims in the audience. I was chilled to the bone.

I will never understand why people emigrate if they are not going to assimilate unless of course the idea is to impose their views on the host country, little by little. What a chilling thought.

I am the granddaughter of Italian immigrants, all of whom brought and shared their culture by opening several Italian restaurants and imparting the love of Italian art and music to us. We were proud of our Italian heritage but even prouder to be Americans. The happiest day of my grandfather's life was when he became an American citizen. And, in World War II, all my uncles joined the US army, fighting against Germany, Japan and Italy. No second thoughts, no questions. If you cannot have this kind of committment and loyalty to your country then you have to seriously consider why you have come.

By the way, Italians are constantly characterised as mobsters and other goombahs in the media. There is an Italian Anti-Defamation League in the States and while I remember loads of peaceful protests, I can't for the life of me, ever remember one threatening death or 'an offer you can't refuse'.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of good order, a quote from the Telegraph article on the poll...

"Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it"

So slightly more oppose it than back it.

I wonder how many of those that back sharia actually realise what it would mean?

Anonymous said...

If we're not careful there WILL be Sharia law in Britain in a very few years. The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum.

Anonymous said...

I enrolled in a University night class about Islam mainly out of curiosity given its relevance to today's society. There were a handful of other white people there but the vast majority were young Muslim females. Anecdotally from them, I got the impression that they were completely cut off from Islam, so much so that they had to enroll in a University course to learn about it. They all seemed pious and interested in Islam, but didn't feel comfortable (or were dissuaded from) asking their elders' advice regarding their faith. They viewed with some bemusement the mind-set of young Muslim males and anathema to their thinking and interpretation of Islam. The general consensus was that Muslim males (and they are all mostly males, let's not forget that) of that mind-set were too far down the road and unlikely to be converted into a more moderate line of thinking. The tutor of the course (himself a Muslim) related to us many interesting tales about how he personally had been dissuaded from teaching the evening class by certain Mosque 'heavyweights'.

Mr Dale, in your post you say we should "ensure that moderate muslim community representatives make their voices heard". The impression I got talking to female Muslims is that this would be like pissing in the wind (excuse my French). The ink is dry in these young men's minds. The so-called moderates are ignored and not respected. It would be like getting someone from CND to appeal to the Pentagon to give away 15% of the US defence budget to charity.

Hughes Views said...

A majority of the British allegedly want capital punishment reintroduced. I bet I could phrase a question for a poll that would get a majority in favour of locking up without trial anyone who looked a bit shifty.

You're right - this time between half terms (some last week, some next) is a quiet time for real news.....

Anonymous said...

Iain, if we've got to the point where we think the likes of the MCB under Iqbal Sacranie and Inayat Bunglawala are moderate Muslims then we're in real trouble.

The truth is that even so called 'moderates' are happy to espouse homophobia, bigotry, intolerance and anti semitism (in the more contemparary anti Jewish sense as opposed to Semites) against other members of our society. When European newspapers in Christian countries publish cartoons offensive to Islam, the Holocaust is mentioned, and how offensive cartoons about that would be. Never mind the fact that neither Israels nor Jews had anything to do with the cartoons.

I blame the left in this country. When I was a student, at UEA as it happens, Norman Lamb came in to speak to students about the Iraq War. His line seemed to be that the war was for oil and because American politicians received backing from Jewish donors and pressure groups. The idea of a Jewish conspiracy lives on, with Muslims encouraged by the likes of Lamb and Jack Straw arguing that their faith holds some kind of special place in society, beyond reproach, criticism or insult.

While at University, I also happened to study Sharia Law as part of my degree. A woman has half the legal entity of a man, so her evidence counts for less (1/2 as it happens) at trial, and she is incapable of entering into contracts by herself, and needs a family patriarch to act on her behalf. Much like a minor in this country. So much for protecting womens rights.


Anonymous said...

It is happening in the uk our councils have to by law allow for sale of council stock to religious and ethnic minorities by means other than normal mortgages adding extra beurocracy and cost to majority of taxpayers to justify equality!

Biodun said...

A very disturbing development indeed.

Any law which is not subject to review, and which cannot be amended or repealed inspite of the wishes of a majority (and that includes Sharia Law) is a joke and has no business in the 21st century

No religion should ever be the source of law, and I say this as a practising Christian and someone who lived in a country where multiculturalism of all sorts, was a constant source of strife and still is, from events that occurred earlier today.

slaves never had any voting rights under the US constitution.
You're talking about the Three-Fifths Compromise which was meant to count slaves for voting purposes, but the voting was done by the slave holders.

Anonymous said...

Lady Finchley reminded us of that infamous "Question Time" after 9/11 when Muslims and lefties in the audience baited the American Ambassador, reducing him to tears. ( Hang your head in shame David Dimbleby)
I remember it well,but remember another chilling event, post 9/11 which tells us something about the Islamic problem. The following morning, in a school (I think in Southall) the children, (mostly of Pakistani origin) came into the playground cheering and punching the air in triumph. This was reported in the press by two members of the school staff.
Now, can you imagine the scene in local households the night before as the families watched endless recordings of the planes slamming into the Twin Towers?
I say, enough appeasment. We have to learn to live with these hypocrites, but we should be on our guard and not concede an inch of our way of life.

SamuelCoates said...

it's worth mentioning too that not only do Muslim women get half the legal entity of a Muslim man - but that that is the same as that of a Christian man, and twice as much as a Christian woman.
To put that into an example, if a Christian girl was raped in Pakistan - she would need 16 Christian women to witness it if she wasn't to be flogged etc for adultery.

Anonymous said...

Right on, be bopper!

We live in a democracy (despite Tony Baloney's best efforts) - nobody forced people to come and live here. I don't expect my son to learn American History at school or to have a day off for July 4thor Presidents' Day. While I'm glad for the variety we have here now which did not exist when I arrived here 23 years ago, I remember why I came here in the first place, love of British culture, British history and of course an Englishman!

Great Britain - love it or leave it!

Anonymous said...

I think the voices of sayeeda warsi need to be heard - she is great, cabinet material