Update: New material on the campaign against
Report of Meeting with Marion Boyd Regarding
On Thursday July 15, 2004, Homa Arjomand, Co-ordinator of the
International Campaign Against Shari’a
This meeting lasted over three hours and many issues and case studies were presented:
Homa Arjomand emphasized the fact that The Ontario Arbitration Act 1991 has made it possible for the Islamic movement to make another attempt to attack both secularism and the women’s movement for equality. She stated that this move has proven, historically, to be a major force in creating serious setbacks to the lives of women. Arjomand also stated that the key features of this move include opposition to the freedom of women, opposition to women’s civil liberties and opposition to freedom of expression.
Ms Arjomand, by presenting some case studies,
demonstrated that due to social pressure and the strict adherence to role and
obligation imposed on women by Shari’a, battered
women coming from so called Islamic countries remain in abusive relationships
Now, using the Ontario Arbitration Act 1991, which allows family disputes to be resolved by arbitrators who are Imams or elderly scholars of Islam, family matters can be resolved according to Shari’a law. Ms. Arjomand explained the consequences of allowing Shari’a arbitrators to handle family disputes. She listed some of the direct violations of social, political and civil rights that will result from the application of Shari’a law through the Arbitration Act. Once more, she stated that family law must be removed from this Act. The mere suggestion of Islamic cultural or religious tribunals has already generated an atmosphere of fear among Muslim women.
Ms. Arjomand finally drew attention to the fact
Mrs. Boyd stated that she is willing to meet with 35 other members of this campaign on August 3rd, 2004 at 9: 30 AM.
Re: Islamic Shari’a Arbitration Proposal Submitted by “The Islamic Institute of Civil Justice”
Dear Mrs. Boyd:
We wish to state our opposition to the recent move for establishing an
“Islamic Institute of Civil Justice” in
While, technically, all Muslim women have access to Canadian laws and courts, and while the Canadian legal system would reject the oppressive decisions made under Shari’a as being contrary to Canadian Law, the reality is that most women would be coerced (socially, economically and psychologically) into participating in the Shari’a tribunal. Women are told that the Shari’a Tribunal is a legal tribunal under the Arbitration Act 1991. The women would take that to mean that whatever is decided by the Tribunal would be considered as lawful. Even women who know that Canadian law would not uphold the decisions would not challenge the decisions for fear of physical, emotional, economic and social consequences. Therefore, it is most unlikely that decisions that are contrary to Canadian law would ever come before the courts.
It is a sad and painful fact that, even in
We strongly believe that Shari’a tribunals will crush women’s civil liberties. It will enforce brutal laws and traditions on abused women who are living under the intensive influence of Islam. These tribunals will be applying Islamic Shari’a law which will compel abused women to stay in abusive relationship and will give them no choice but to be obedient’ or attempt suicide.
The acceptance of the Shari’a Tribunals as part of
We believe it is the government’s duty to protect the individual and civil
rights and liberties of all citizens living in
We need a secular state and secular society that respects human rights and that is founded on the principle that power belongs to the people and not a God. It is crucial to oppose the Islamic Sharia law and to subordinate Islam to secularism and secular states. Under Shari’a family law and its penal code (which has remained unchanged since 1400 years), women are considered inferior to men. Marriage is a contract according to which the husband should perform sexually and provide materially for the wife. He has the legal, moral and religious duty to beat his wife, if she does not obey him. Sharia states that a man can easily divorce his wife, by declaring that fact three times.
One must bear in mind that Shari’a is not only a religion; it is intrinsically connected with the state. It controls every aspect of an individual’s life from very personal matters such as women’s periods to the very public ones such as how to run the state. It has rules for everything. An individual has no choice but to accept the rule of Sharia or face extreme consequences, as non believers are shown no tolerance.
Shari’a considers women to be a potential danger
by distracting men from their duties and corrupting the community. It therefore
suppresses women’s sexuality, whilst men are given the rights to marry up to
four wives and the right to temporary marriage as many times as they wish.
Young girls are forced to cover themselves from head to foot and are segregated
from boys. These law and regulations are now implemented in
The message is clear: men dominate, women obey. A woman does not have the right to choose her husband, her clothing, her place of residence, and cannot travel without husband’s consent. The danger is that once these tribunals are set up, people from Muslim origin will be pressured to use them, thereby being deprived of many of the rights that people in the west managed to gain.
We, the defenders of secularism, believe that the introduction of Shari’a a tribunal or a “Shari’a
In light of the above, and on the grounds of human rights, equality and gender justice we strongly urge the Ontario Government the removal of family law from the Arbitration Act 1991 so that all family disputes be resolved in Canadian secular court system regardless of their race, ethnicity and religion.
Editorial introduction: The possibility of Shari'a
Once more I’d like to emphasize the presence of two forces operating within the Canadian Muslim community. One tries to implement Shari’a law with its repressive measures against women, while the other relies on modernism and secularism to resist such attempts.
The question I am asked time and time again by the media is: Since it was possible for Shari’a to be used from 1991 when the Ontario Arbitration Act was enacted, why do we care now?
The reality is that in 1991, political Islam did not show its flag. There was no overt political message because there was no apparent legal validation. The public was not aware of its hidden message.
But on October 23, 2003, the flag of political Islam was raised.
We, as activists for women’s rights in the Middle East, have experienced the
oppression of political Islam and knew the danger if it gained legal
Historically, political Islam has proven to be a major force that imposed serious setbacks on women’s lives. Political Islam is a political movement that came into force against secular and progressive movements for liberation, and against cultural and intellectual advances. In the 1970’s the political Islamic movement grew stronger and became more widespread. In the 1980’s political Islam was supported and nurtured by western governments to be used in the conflicts and tensions of the cold war.
The key features of political Islam include opposition to the freedom of women, to women’s civil liberties and to freedom of expression. The enforcement of brutal laws and untouchable traditions made women’s homes into prisons. Women were excluded from many fields of work and from education. Their brutal treatment became the norm. Under political Islam women are second-class citizen who are denied their full legal rights.
We strongly believe that only the secular movement which is already present in our society can effectively counter political Islam.
We must repeal the Ontario Arbitration Act 1991. Only then we will be able
to prevent Shari’a arbitration in
is co-ordinator of The International Campaign Against