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Catastrophic Success

As if there weren't enough political opinionating out there, I, too, now sing the body bloglectric. Let me FEED you![XML]

Location: United States

Monday, January 17, 2005

Where is Gloria Steinem?

Haaretz - Israel News - Feminists outraged as B nai B rith Canada sides with Muslims on domestic law

According to the article, B'nai B'rith Canada (a Jewish Human Rights group) has filed a brief with the Canadian Court advocating allowing Canadian Muslims to privately adjudicate (non-criminal) disputes with legally binding Muslim courts that enforce Sharia law.

This whole thing smells fishy to me. While I certainly see no problem with private arbitration, I find a private, binding court system to be contrary to Western ideals of equal protection and application under the law. The article states that the Sharia court could not rule contrary to accepted Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights, I foresee this becoming essentially a shadow court system and a black market ruling system.

What can women expect the Sharia Courts to provide them?

"Under Sharia, male heirs receive almost double the inheritance of females. Alimony is limited to a period ranging from three months to one year, unless a woman was pregnant before she was divorced. Only men can initiate divorce proceedings, and fathers virtually always are awarded custody of any children who have reached puberty."

What is most surprising about this article isn't necessarily that hard-right muslims are trying to implement Sharia law in Canada (just as they are everywhere else). What's surprising is that this Jewish advocacy group is supporting it, and that Canada is seriously considering it.

"I'm not sure what a smart idea that was. Tradition should not be used as an excuse for limiting gender equality," Ester Reiter, a secular Jewish feminist and a professor of women's studies at Toronto's York University said.

B'nai B'rith supports this because they don't want to be forced to remove the Rabbinical Courts which apparently have a similar arrangement in Canada. However, the contradiction is that while there is an acknoeledged slight male bias in Rabbinical Court, Sharia Law is completely counter to Canada's avowed commitment to equal rights (regardless of the overly leftward lean of Canada's prominent policies). It essentially enslaves women to their male family members and husbands. It removes their personhood and relegates them to a life of ignorance and abuse. Regardless of one's personal ox (the existence of the Rabbinical Courts), how anyone can advocate allowing this is beyond me. Certainly if the Sharia courts become commonplace they can argue that the existence of the Rabbinical Courts is counter to the Sharian beliefs since, according to John Syrtash, the lawyer who wrote the brief, "If you're religious, then Jewish courts come down to us as the word of God," and that is clearly blasphemy in the Islamic faith.

It is dangerous to give an inch in this regard. It seems pretty reasonable to assume that Sharia can't be implemented in part. Its very definition requires that it be implemented in whole. This is the same appeasement strategy that gave hitler Czechoslovakia and Poland and was surprised by his invasion of France.

The feminist groups who are opposing the brief should be applauded and shouldn't be alone in this. Everyone who cares for the Western cultural model should be opposing this. It does no good to fight Islamist extremism abroad only to give Islamists a foothold in our own backyard. One can only hope that Canadians, who seem intent to follow the Dutch model, learn the terrible lessons of the consequences of extreme tolerance sooner than the Dutch did.