Sharia a touchstone for debate

shariaquran(Canscene) –Personally, I have no objection to how Muslim women, or for that matter, women or men from any other social, religious or ethnic group choose to dress.

Whether it’s a hijab, a yarmulka, a turban or a burqua: dress is a matter of individual choice and under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is perfectly legal.

But dress should not be governed by laws other than those established by Canada and so practiced in Canadian courts.

In an OMNI-funded television documentary, already aired but we may be sure, to be repeated several times, Raheel Raza, well-known journalist and community activist and no stranger to debate. has produced and directed Whose Sharia is it Anyway? The film investigates the question of admitting sharia law into our courts.

The argument for sharia is presented by frequent clips of Sandra, a recent convert to Islam. She appears so immersed in her new religion that she’s leaning toward advocacy. Similarly MP Bob Rae is frequently seen, but I found his comments for and against sharia inconclusive.

Although Raza’s narration claims that there is serious opposition among Canadian Muslims to sharia law here, we see very few spokespersons for this opposition and a disproportionate amount of footage goes to apologists for a system they say is based on justice and love as taught by the Qur’an. Yet the film left me with the impression that sharia, even practiced in free countries restricts the rights of women even as do the more drastic applications of sharia by such regimes as Taliban and El Qaeda.

I am more than ever convinced that no religious or ethnic law should supplant our existing system based on the Constitution and Charter of Rights and applaud Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s move to ban all lawa and court systems permitting religious considerations to influence courts of law.

One Response to “Sharia a touchstone for debate”

  1. Bill Says:

    Like you, I think that legal systems which aim to replace the constitutional justice system have no place in Canada. The matter becomes trickier when the parallel systems are offered as arbitration services. As such, they do not have the force of law, but can settle civil disputes by negotiation if all participants agree.

    For me, this is the tricky bit. If family and community pressures are strong enough, a person may feel coerced into accepting the authority of an arbitration system, forgoing rights to Canadian justice. That’s a bad thing, in my opinion.

    And yet, we do rely on arbitration to deliver out-of-court settlements all the time. The practice helps alleviate court backlogs and saves legal fees.

    We also recognize “sentencing circles” for First Nations cases. The advice of such circles is never binding on the court, but there is the appearance of a parallel, culturally based system of justice at work.