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Posted: 12/25/2003 2:36:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2003 2:49:10 PM EDT by Jarhead_22]
Some Canada Muslims to Use Sharia in Civil Disputes
By Amran Abocar
25 Dec 2003

TORONTO (Reuters) - Some Canadian Muslims will soon be able to use an Islamic tribunal to arbitrate civil disputes, bringing Muslim sharia law to a largely secular society and raising concerns about the extent to which it might be applied.

Canada's Islamic Institute of Civil Justice was formed in October and plans to begin arbitrating family and business disputes early next year using Muslim personal law in Ontario. Eventually, operations will be expanded across Canada.

Since arbitrators' rulings can be enforced by the courts, the development has raised eyebrows that sharia will in effect be endorsed by Canada's secular courts.

While Muslim leaders insist decisions are only binding if all parties agreed to the arbitration, critics say people may be pressured to take part in the process.

"It involves inheritance, divorces and family matters and the sharia law is a distinct disadvantage to Muslim women and they will be pressured. There's no doubt about this," said Sheila Ayala of the Humanist Association of Canada which advocates separating church and state.

Sharia is a code of law based primarily on the Koran as well as the teachings of the prophet Mohammad and is meant to govern all aspects of Muslim life including prayer, fasting and even finance, in which interest payments are banned.

Individual Muslims adopt sharia to varying degrees according to personal belief, and many Muslim countries have instituted elements of sharia as law. For example, Saudi Arabia, which follows strict Islamic law, executes murderers, rapists and drug smugglers, usually by public beheading.

In Canada, where the new plan would not cover criminal offenses, objections have ranged from concerns about institutionalizing sharia to the more radical perception that women might be stoned in the streets for adultery.

"Sharia law is known in the West mainly by its more extreme clauses, which recommend brutal punishments and authorize the unequal treatment of women," said a recent newspaper editorial. "Perhaps this is an unfair image. But no country can have two competing codes of law."

For example, critics say the tribunal could decree unequal inheritance settlements for women because sharia states that a son inherits twice as much as a daughter.

But Muslim and non-Muslim experts say concerns are overblown. To complain about sharia hints at racism against a community that feels under siege after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawyers said.


"It is being sensationalized. It is part of the general hysteria that's out there since 9/11, the Talibanization of (North) America," said Irfan Syed, chair of the Toronto-based Muslim Lawyers Association.

"The mechanisms are all there for oversight and it is unfortunate that people are ... leaping to conclusions."

Rahim Khan, co-founder of the institute, also dismisses concerns but, with an eye to public perception, insisted that the word "civil" be inserted into the original name, Institute of Islamic Justice.

"There should be no concern. We're dealing with Canadian civil law with minor exceptions here and there," Khan said. "Muslim personal law is accepted all over the world. Canada is a bit peculiar; we don't seem to understand it."

Khan said the organization will help ease the backlog in the civil courts and would not deal with criminal matters.

The sudden public interest -- news of the group's plans has made headlines in Canada -- has surprised some Muslims who say they already used sharia in divorce arbitration and other disputes. The institute, which has about 50 members, said it wants to formalize that process.

Ontario and other Canadian provinces have long allowed the use of arbitrators in civil disputes, whether religious or not. A similar system of dispute resolution already exists in the Jewish community where a couple that obtains a divorce from a rabbi can have it recognized by the courts. Other religious matters can be taken before rabbinical courts.

"In truly multicultural countries, this is quite common," said Ed Morgan, a law professor at the University of Toronto.

"It's a legitimate way to give religious communities some autonomy within the scope of our law. The two can exist because the Canadian courts have an ultimate supervisory capacity."

The federal government has said it "had no position" on the issue as provinces set laws on property and civil rights in their own jurisdictions as long as they do not breach the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the country's supreme law.

But that is not enough for critics, who oppose having Canadian courts and police, effectively, enforcing sharia.

"Nobody thinks the extreme sections of the sharia law will be carried out, like stoning people and cutting off hands," said the Humanist Association's Ayala. "But still, if Canada accepts this, it means it will give credibility to the sharia law around the world."
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 2:39:47 PM EDT
To my knowledge, most free countries allow binding arbitration to settle civil disputes - and you can choose what kind of arbitrator you want.

But to CHOOSE sharia law, that's just fucked up.  
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 2:52:50 PM EDT
My Green Card interview couldn't come too soon.[rolleyes]
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 2:54:25 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 2:56:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2003 2:59:58 PM EDT by Cold_Warrior]
And you guys thought California was bad...

And besides, when we invade the troops won't have as long of a plane flight home for the holidays and the Navy guys can take it easy.

Link Posted: 12/25/2003 2:58:13 PM EDT
With the way the SCOTUS is ruling according to other countries' laws, this makes me extremely nervous.  I wish we could just clone Scalia and Thomas.
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 6:21:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2003 6:23:34 PM EDT by Airwolf]
I'm with [b]raven[/b] on this one.  Several SCOTUS judges have made it perfectly clear that they believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to model US laws based on what other countries do.

As [b]DK[/b] pointed out Civil litigation under arbitration is one thing, but you can’t tell me that once a precedent like this is set that it won’t be pushed in to other areas of the law.

We’re in major deep shit if this kind of crap starts happening here.  The so-called liberals would fall all over themselves to “embrace diversity”.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again.  This country is going to “diversify” itself to oblivion.
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 6:25:43 PM EDT
Jeez, I thought this thread was gonna be about another Chinese-made product. [rolleyes]
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 6:33:35 PM EDT
Just think. No Nativity creches in your city park, but perhaps public stonings will soon receive the ACLU stamp of approval.

Someone slow the handbasket down long enough for me to jump out.
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 6:43:29 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 6:49:27 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MickeyMouse:
Screw moslem "law".

If hating America's enemies makes me racist, then so be it.
View Quote

I am with you
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 6:56:47 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MickeyMouse:

If hating America's enemies makes me racist, then so be it.
View Quote

I don't think I've heard it better said.
Link Posted: 12/25/2003 7:00:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2003 7:00:29 PM EDT by ChrisLe]
Originally Posted By MickeyMouse:
Screw moslem "law".

If hating America's enemies makes me racist, then so be it.
View Quote

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