Sharia? No, thanks we're Kuffar

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 15:21 Wendy Larkson

In recent times, Islamic groups are attempting to introduce Shariah law into Australia. Of course all kinds of appeals are made to culture and tolerance while ignoring the realities of the western legal system and its irrevocable difference with Shariah. Tim Soutphommasane of the Australian has given reasoned arguments as to why Australia should NOT introduce Shariah law. Nor could one ever imagine Tim wanting to introduce Hindu, Buddhist or Cao-Dai law into Australia. Tim asks 

 MUST accepting multiculturalism also mean accommodating Islamic law? PONDER for a moment the following. Given that we tolerate and even celebrate multiculturalism in its various practical forms, should we not also extend pluralism to the law? This is the proposition put forward by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. (source)

Anticipating a ‘hysterical’ reaction from the preachers of unqualified tolerance, Tim acknowledges that while for many ‘sharia means a repressive, pre-modern legal system. Many will think of public canings or stonings as punishment for theft or adultery’, there are others, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who called for "constructive accommodation" of parts of sharia. Muslims, he said, should be free to bypass English law in favour of Islamic courts to resolve non-criminal disputes such as divorce.’. However, Tim notes that the Archbishop’s suggestions did not get very far. Then he goes on to give a balanced account of what multiculturalism was meant to be:

In Australia, multiculturalism has never been about cultural relativism. It has never meant that someone can subvert the rule of law by using a defence of "it's my culture". Rather, it has always been clearly defined as a citizenship policy. Its goal has been to integrate immigrants into an Australian civic culture. (source)

He then explains further

Any granting of group rights must not limit the ability of individuals in a group (particularly women) to question, revise or abandon traditional roles and practices. More generally, we should avoid any capitulation to any urges for social or legal segregation. Multiculturalism should be about nation-building; it shouldn't be about encouraging communities to live in isolation from one another or what Indian economist Amartya Sen has called "plural monoculturalism". (source)

The perceptive remark that we should avoid plural monoculturalism indicates that Tim has grasped the essence of the debate. Tim, while supporting immigration, sees what many rosy eyed utopian lefties do not see – that there must be a line drawn as to what society will tolerate. Otherwise, he implies, that society will tolerate intolerance and a loss of human rights. If as the Cole Porter song says ‘anything goes’ then why not tolerate abuse of women, segregation and amputation for theft. The reality is– apologies to Porter - ‘anything does not go’ and it would be nice if a contemporary composer would write a song to those words.

Another important reason for NOT introducing Shariah law is that it would render those in the Muslim community second class citizens.

These are the obvious and grave risks of recognising sharia as part of our law. I would imagine most Australian Muslims would agree with this view. Legal pluralism would exacerbate the danger of them becoming second-class citizens. (source)

Introducing another system of law with which the west is not familiar would leave the vulnerable within Muslim society at the mercy or lack of it of those in power. The western system of law has as one of its aims, the protection of the weaker members of society and as such it is a better model than any other existing system of law on the planet. It is not perfect but if given a choice, would you rather live under Saudi law or Australian law?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 19:25