Scaremongering about Shariah Law

It has happened again – someone says something about Islam, Muslims, law, Shariah, UK, etc, etc, etc, the media starts it’s god-forsaken scaremongering, the ignorant public jump to their own ill-informed conclusions and go into a frenzied panic. Actually, Muslims should have been anticipating this for a while now, the media did seem a little thin on the Muslim-bashing side recently (oh, aside from the “bugs-under-Mr Sadiq Khan’s-table” of course).

This morning I woke up to news that the Archbishop of Cantebury called for measures to incorporate parts of Shariah law* into the British legal system. His comments have been faced with harsh criticism from politicians and media moguls alike. Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips reacted with the following statement: “implication that British courts should treat people differently based on their faith is divisive and dangerous“. Has the man finally lost his mind?

Then you have No.10 officials who apparently claim the Prime Minister “believes that British laws should be based on British values” – How on earth does this statement mean the Prime Minister is opposed to aspects of Shariah law being incorporated into the current legal system? The PM himself has been the Keynote speaker at virtually every Islamic banking conference since 2003 as the then Chancellor. If anything, he very much welcomes Shariah compliant law and has gone so far as promoting it as an alternative method for British Muslims. The simple truth is that people just aren’t aware of the facts.

One newspaper (commonly read by most London commuters) ended their coverage on this topic with a rather disturbing statement “the Islamic legal system can dictate the dress-code” – what? This is absurd and totally inaccurate. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs and comments, the Muslim dress-code is not defined by Islamic jurisprudence and is instead a “suggested” approach, which many Muslim men and women choose to adopt through their own free will. It is precisely this kind of incompetent and irresponsible journalism that prompts turmoil within communities which usually live in perfect harmony for the most part of their lives.

Speaking to a couple of non-Muslim colleagues this morning (who approached me about the issue) I found that they felt the same – “what is all the fuss about? Shariah courts already exist right?” was what they asked – and they were right. Shariah laws are already practised amongst British Muslim families today – the issue here is whether civil law should be flexed to adopt to Islamic law for Muslims living in this country and not whether the Islamic penal code should be adopted – which is what is frightening everyone. I think I can safely say that the majority of Muslims do not want to see a change in the penal code in the UK – they merely want a more adaptable system which permits and recognises Islamic legal rulings on things like marriage, divorce, banking, and so forth.

The mere fact that a non-Muslim has brought up this issue should be enough of an indication that British Muslims are not looking to take over the world. This debate should be welcomed and thrashed out in a reasonable and sensible manner through knowledge and common sense, not through poorly informed scaremongers.

*Shariah law = Often translated as the “Islamic way”, based on Muslim principles of jurisprudence.

Draconian Measures Enforced by Fear

On July the 7th 2005 Rachel North was on her way to work, her carriage was carrying one of the suicide bombers who killed 26 people that day. Earlier this week she was asked to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee on the government’s proposed anti-terror legislation. Writing in Comment is Free in the Guardian today Rachel says that she is “opposed to the further extension of detention powers, because [she has] not seen any compelling evidence that such powers are necessary”. Her sentiments are shared by a number of politicians, activists, and basically the majority of the British population who see this new proposal as another draconian measure introduced by power-hungry politicians who fear that we may “one day” need 90 days to question terror suspects.

While it is always refreshing to read the story of a person who although has been personally affected by terrorist attacks, does not blur their opinion with emotion, and instead takes a reasoned and logical approach to this issue, I do think that it in protesting against such a proposal it is important to differentiate between “personal freedom / liberty” and “security against the terror threat”. As with most legal issues, this topic also needs to be approached with an evidence-based argument. There has been legislation, which although impinge on “freedom” (individual data collection being one), are totally acceptable – so one would ask the question that if this legislation will be brought in force to protect the citizens of this nation, then why are we opposing it? In my opinion the answer is simple, up till now the argument for the extension of the detention limit has not been backed up by any hard core evidence, facts or impact assessments about the effectiveness (or lack of) of the current detention limit or why we need to increase it – until this is done it will be difficult to see its necessity and the argument for the government to spend my hard earned taxes for an extra 32 days to question and charge a suspect falls short. If anything, this just goes to show the ineffectiveness of the police.

Atomboy from Notes and Comments sums it up in the following way:

We did not need extra legislation to protect us from real terrorists like the Red Brigade, the PLF, the IRA the Baader-meinhof Gang and all the other groups of the seventies and we lived through it.

Peter Ustinov said something like: “War is the terrorism of the rich; terrorism is the war of the poor.”

We have followed hysterical and childish Americans who think they can “whup” terrorism by invading the rest of the world or bombing it to oblivion. The two B’s of Blair and Brown have clung to the coat-tails of the Big B Bush in the hope that they will look powerful and capable. Blair ended up looking like a mentally-challenged seven year old at Camp David, stuffing his hands into his pockets and grinning at the world “Look at me, I’m with the most powerful man on earth, which makes me powerful, too.”

Brown, for his part, has never made a secret of the fact that he just wants power, at any cost and however long he has had to wait. We are governed by scaremongers of base designs and inferior intellect, who simply hope that they can terrify the population into thinking there is a genuine terrorist threat of greater weight than we have always had. They are a bunch of lickspittle, sticky-fingered liars and should be booted out at the next election or sooner if possible. 

It is not a question of having nothing to fear but fear itself; nor the artificial fear of a bogus terrorist threat hyped up by the circus barkers of this government of infinite corruption. It is the fear that freedoms will be siphoned off from the people and these will entrench the power of the British terrorist state.

Here, here!

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