West, secularism, Women's Rights, Islamism, Sharia
Sharia law is implemented in the Aceh province of Indonesia [Image: Getty Images]

Separation of Sharia and State: Secularism Cannot Surrender

Religion is increasingly being treated with leniency in the name of multiculturalism. How can we stop Sharia courts from threatening secular values?

Liberals seem to have forgotten their pledge to uphold secular values and, it seems, are quite happily embracing theological interference in politics and legislation in the form of Sharia courts.

There was a time when Europe was in the firm grip of the Church. It took years of tireless efforts to separate religion from the State.

Thanks to the leniency with which religion is being increasingly treated in the name of multiculturalism, however, the West is again falling for the dangerous romance between Church and State.

West, secularism, women's rights, Sharia, Islamism
Are Sharia courts putting separation of Church and State at risk? [Image: Edge of the Frame]

Canada pardons the unpardonable

The latest manifestation of this unfortunate phenomenon took place in Canada, where the Ontario Superior Court allowed a Muslim man to walk free from the charge of marital rape because the accused followed Sharia law, under which a wife is obliged to submit to sexual intercourse at her husband’s will.

The victim stated that her husband sexually assaulted her and that she tried to stop him, but he only continued to rape her. The defendant claimed he didn’t know that this constituted marital rape in Canada.

This was in spite of the fact that in 2005, Ontario had prohibited the adjudication of family disputes in religious courts.

Nevertheless, the Court gave the man margin, finding that although he was guilty of the accusations, he was not aware that he was committing a crime on Canadian soil.

The culprit’s religious practices, rather than innocence, bought him a ticket to freedom.

This case has set up a dangerous legal precedent in Canadian jurisprudence and might overshadow the secular values of human rights and individual freedom in other countries too.

One wonders how Canadian jurists would decide a case in which an extremist Hindu left instructions in his will to cremate his wife alive in accordance with Sati – a practice that was only abolished under British rule in India. If he were to die and his relatives executed his will, they might as well state religious grounds while claiming they were not aware they were committing a crime in Canada.

This decision is also likely to give a blank cheque to Islamists in Canada who are already seeking to introduce inhumane practices, most of which impact women and children, in the name of Sharia law and their religious rights. Despite being prohibited, Islamic arbitration is already taking place there ‘unofficially.’

Moreover, the ruling discourages any victims of FGM, marital rape, domestic abuse, forced marriage, or underage marriage to come forward and report the crimes. The plaintiff knows that the perpetrator has a special exemption, solely because Islamists carry out all these practices in the name of their religion.

West, secularism, women's rights, Sharia, Islamism
In a video, Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia call domestic violence a ‘beautiful blessing’ [Image: news.com.au]
This would only further silence Muslim women, as it was already only a tiny minority of abused women who could muster up the courage to speak out against abusive men and their oppressive cultural practices. For many Muslim women, the silence is compounded by the fear of losing their family, or in severe cases, even their lives.

Sharia does NOT protect minority rights

It is appalling to see the Western legal justice system letting down the most marginalised communities (and especially individual women and children within them) by ignoring the fact that what extremist Muslims present to the West as their ‘religious values’ is actually a species of inhumane torture in conservative Muslim societies.

Women are punished with lashes, jail terms, and beheadings in many Sharia-compliant regimes such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, for the most inoffensive acts: not wearing a burqa, going out without a male guardian, or not being able to prove through four male, Muslim witnesses that they were raped.

They are not even allowed to protest against such abuse and are routinely punished with impunity for trying to speak up.

Sadly, the same ideology is creeping up in the West now and developing a parallel justice system that goes against modern, secular values.

This phenomenon is frustrating a growing number of citizens in the West, making them turn against their own governments whilst also giving a golden opportunity to the local neo-Nazis and the Far Right to rise from the ashes of World War II.

Many councils and tribunals are using Sharia law to decide family matters within Muslim communities.

These arbitrary bodies are gradually replacing the justice system for local Muslims, who increasingly prefer to take their divorce, family disputes, or even property and business matters to the these councils to get a Sharia-compliant solution.

But just like any archaic justice system, these Sharia councils are frequently accused of siding with the more powerful party in a dispute concerning women, due to a misogynistic mindset.

The basic principles of Sharia law are not compatible with Western laws, which aim to provide justice to all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

The underhanded waiver of rights (and fundamentalism) are key factors preventing justice from being served under Sharia arbitration.

Yet local governments in the West prefer to keep their eyes shut on the matter and generally accommodate these councils. In 2016, while launching an official review of the application regarding malpractices of Sharia councils, then Home Secretary Theresa May stated that many British Muslims ‘benefit a great deal’ from the guidance offered by Sharia rulings.

Islamism, Women's Rights, Sharia, secularism, West
Magic Movement, a group of young Bangladeshis, stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia’s beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers. Saudi Arabia operates under strict Sharia law [Image: REUTERS/Andrew Biraj]
Her statement was characteristic of those apologists who are not willing to call a spade a spade merely because it would risk offending extremists.

Sharia jurisprudence introduced by hard-line Muslims endorses injustice and unequal treatment of women; female genital mutilation; the killing of apostates, blasphemers, and homosexuals; the stoning of women and men for fornication; child marriage; forced marriage through guardianship; hand amputations for theft (hudud punishments); wife-beating; spousal sexual assault; slavery, including of a sexual nature; and incitement of hatred against ‘infidels’, or non-Muslims.

Sadly, some of these practices are already happening under the nose of Western authorities, such as wife-beating, Halala, polygamy, female genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage and hate mongering against Jews and Christians.

West, secularism, Women's Rights, Islamism, Sharia
Child brides in Yemen [Image: National Geographic]
Regrettably, these councils are spreading their tentacles across the board and local Muslims are becoming their victims with increasing peer pressure to resolve matters in a ‘halal’ way.

All condemnations of the normalisation of Sharia law are labeled as ‘Islamophobia’ or ‘anti-Muslim hatred’ as a caveat to limit free speech.

Safeguarding secularism

Millions of lives were sacrificed throughout the centuries in the fight for separation of Church and State. When it was finally achieved on a large-scale, it ushered in a remarkable age of human development, providing equal opportunities for all, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, or creed.

Religious extremists are hell-bent to reverse the cycle of history, though. If our indolence were to allow us to fall into the pit of extremism again, it would be an irrecoverable loss for the world.

About Khadija Khan

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One comment

  1. (1) Ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Ignorance of the law excuses no one. First week of first year law school in America;
    (2) Where are all the libbers when one of their darling Muslims rapes? Ah the joys of multiculturalism……

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