“Those of us Muslims who are heartily sick of the politicisation of our faith and the Islamicisation of politics and society are this week rejoicing over a small but significant victory.”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the defeat of the proposal for so-called “Sharia courts” in Canada.
Say no to Muslims who demand special favours
By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Evening Standard, 22 September 2005
Those of us Muslims who are heartily sick of the politicisation of our faith and the Islamicisation of politics and society are this week rejoicing over a small but significant victory.
Ontario, in Canada, was planning to allow sharia law to be used in domestic disputes. One reason given was that Christians and Jews had that right. A global anti-sharia campaign by human-rights activists, including many Muslims, has forced its premier, Dalton McGuinty to capitulate. He has just announced there would be no religious arbitration in Ontario, a blow to the deadly ideological Islam which has spread fast into the heart of the West, partly because some Western governments have fed and watered it for reasons of political expediency.
New Labour courts traditionalist Muslims (mostly men) who demand extra-special treatment, as if we have DNA which is distinct from the rest of humanity. Little wonder we are today detested even by other black and Asian citizens, who are incredulous that instead of fighting for equality for all, Muslim leaders (unelected) spend their time calling for privileges, using wicked politicking to get their way.
Believe it or not, in Britain we have a Muslim Sharia Council (MSC), which especially intervenes in marriages performed by imams that are not registered in civil courts. Inevitably, women are relegated to inferior status. One woman, Salwa, a British-Iraqi, has been fighting for a divorce for four years. The MSC tells her she cannot divorce her husband because only he can make that decision.
It gets worse. New state-funded Muslim schools and a tough law against religious incitement were bribes paid by Blair to Muslims enraged about Iraq. How easily they were bought off. We could have had the head of Straw, a Portillo moment. Instead, the favoured Muslims of New Labour, knights, OBEs and lords, handed over “community” votes and got a pernicious law which threatens artistic and other freedoms. These same hypocritical traditionalists now object to the new anti-terror legislation which makes it a crime to “glorify” terrorism.
Other ethnic and faith groups are now grabbing a piece of the action. The result is backward cultural and religious protectionism which saw off the play Behzti by the young Sikh woman writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, and another gathering storm over the Jerry Springer stage show.
Are these religions so weak they cannot legitimately argue with the artists and others who challenge them? There is no absolute freedom of speech; no society would survive such a jungle. But good societies strive to move towards openness and seek to promote commonalities, not separation.