Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Hidden Agenda of Sharia Law

I have just watched Divorce Sharia Style on Channel 4, the programme referred to in the Telegraph article mentioned in this post.

The programme emphasised that many of the people who use Sharia courts in this country seek clarification from the residing sheiks as to what is Islamic Law and what is 'merely' culture. There certainly seems a lot of confusion amongst the Muslim community as to where the dividing line lies. The problem, of course, is that the sheiks have to interpret Islamic Law. Now, this isn't the same as a judge interpreting the law of the land. A judge has a set of rules set out specifically to codify the laws, whereas religious laws are gathered from religious texts dating from antiquity, and are notoriously subject to conflicting interpretations. To suggest that such a system should be used in a modern democracy is utter nonsense.

I don't want to comment upon the specifics of Sharia Law, as that has been done elsewhere, although I did notice with concern that in 'extreme cases' three sheiks have the power to dissolve a marriage without even hearing from the other party.

What concerns me most of all though is whether there is a thinly hidden agenda in the calls for Sharia Law to be adopted in this country. Its proponents talk of 'making the government's burden lighter' and turning this country into a 'haven of peace', but go on to threaten that we will need even more prisons if Sharia, with its strict rules and punishments such as flogging, stoning and amputation, is not accepted. If that prospect were not abhorrent enough, one of the sheiks featured in the programme has been secretly filmed declaring that Sharia will turn this country into a Muslim state, which will then launch jihad against the 'infidels', or unbelievers. Hardly any reasonable person's idea of a 'haven of peace'.

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