Sharia – the paranoid Islamophobic fantasies of ‘Left’ and Right

Homa Arjomand (2)Brett Lock of Outrage has woken from his blogging slumbers and posted a response to this item on Islamophobia Watch, which linked to a BNP article reporting Patrick Sookhdeo’s “shocking conclusion that Islamic (Sharia) law will filter into the existing British legal system”. We suggested that the fascists and Sookhdeo might consider launching a joint campaign against the “Sharia threat” with Outrage and the Worker Communist Party of Iran.

Lock demands: “How can they expect a gay human rights group NOT to oppose sharia law – a law which criminalises, menaces and – too often – kills our kind? And if they understand this, why the snide and slanderous suggestion that we’re in league with the BNP or other right wing fascists?”

Lock & Load, 11 December 2005

I really don’t have time for an extended debate on Sharia. Someone better qualified than myself could perhaps take this up with Lock. But the point made in our original post is not that the BNP, Patrick Sookhdeo, Outrage and the WPI are in a bloc opposing Sharia law, but that they share a common paranoid fantasy that Sharia in any form (never mind the caricature picture of it that they promote) is about to be introduced into western society. This nonsense formed the basis of the Islamophobic hysteria whipped up by the WPI (backed by Outrage) in response to the proposal to establish state-supported faith-based arbitration tribunals for Muslims in Ontario. And in that campaign they did find themselves in a bloc with the racist Right.

Haroon Siddiqui observed in the Toronto Star that the “anti-Sharia” campaign typified “a creeping irrationality in our own public discourse, public opinion and public policy when dealing with Muslims”. He continued: “Faith-based arbitration for Muslims was not going to be sharia, even if one proponent said so. The term suited the critics just fine. They raised the red herring and the platitudes flowed: Multiculturalism was eroding common values. The line separating church and state was being erased. Theocracy was being grafted onto Canada. As amusing as some of this has been at one level, at another it has been Islamophobic and deeply divisive.”