Letters to Mrs Boyd

Letters from (click on the name)

Canadian Union of Postal Workers 

Elizabeth Cuddy

Eric Mitchinson

Children first

Homa Arjomand  

Women First Alberta, Canada

Jeffrey Perkins  

Elka Enola  

Nasreen Shah 

Richard John Purvis  

Khayal Ibrahim  

Issam Shukri

CALGARY and DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL

 

 

1

Mrs Marion Boyd

Arbitration Review

c/o 11th Floor, 720 Bay

Toronto, M5G 2K1

Boyd.review@jus.gov.on.ca                                      July 21, 2004

 

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 Canada. This move should be opposed by everyone who believes in women’s civil and individual rights, in freedom of expression and in freedom of religion and belief. We also wish to emphasis that even the mere suggestion of the Shari’a tribunals causes an atmosphere of fear among women who came from “Islamic” countries. If this Institute gains validity, it will increase intimidation and threats against innumerable women and it will open the way for future suppression.

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 Canada, we still have to talk about the religious oppression of women. Nonetheless, the reality is that millions of women are suffering and being oppressed under Sharia law in many different parts of the world. Some of us managed to flee to a safe country, a country like Canada with no anti-secular backlash. Unfortunately, Canada is the only Western country that has given validity to an “Islamic Institute of Civil Justice” (through Ontario arbitration act 1991) that will allow family and civil matters to be arbitrated according to the Islamic Sharia law. If  the government of Ontario and secular forces allow this move to succeed in Ontario, we don’t see how it will be possible to block it from gaining recognition in the rest of Canada and in every other country in the west.

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 the Ontario legal system, is a move against secularism, modernism, egalitarianism and women’s rights. It will only send a massage to women that they are undeserving of human rights protection.

We believe it is the government’s duty to protect the individual and civil rights and liberties of all citizens living in Canada. There must be no state within a state. The Islamic advocates argue that, as Mr. Momtaz Ali stated in his proposal, it is their duty as good Muslims to work towards their own state. They also emphasize that there should be no separation between religion and the law.

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 Canada, but are usually hidden from secular society although, some, such as what happens in Islamic elementary and secondary schools, are visible. According to Shari’a law, a woman’s testimony counts for only half that of a man. So in straight disagreements between husband and wife, the husband’s testimony will normally prevail. In question of inheritance daughters receive only half the portion of sons and in the cases of custody, the man is automatically   awarded custody of the children once they have reached  the age of seven.  Women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim whereas men are allowed to do so.

 

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 court” in Canada would discriminate against the most vulnerable sectors of society: women and children. It would deny them the Canadian values of equality and gender justice.

 

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.

Sincerely

 

Homa Arjomand

           homawpi@rogers.com    

           Tel: 416-737-9500

Transitional Counselor for abused women

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July 19, 2002 

Dear Mrs. Boyd,

 

I am a Canadian woman born in Iran to a Muslim family. I was hoping that at least in Canada I wont be prosecuted if I choose to change my religion as thousands of Iranians are doing around the world and secretly in Iran.

 

Just wanted you to know that if there is going to be a Canadian Sharia Court, we will RECRUITE the ‘Sinful Muslim women’ to take their SINS into PUBLIC, and ask for DUE PUNISHMENT from the Sharia Court!  You probably know the lightest Sharia Punishment for “Kefirs”, “Infidels” and most “sinful women” is PUBLIC HANGING or STONING.

 

I’ll appreciate if the Canadian Politicians could take part and CHEER my HANGING. We will give them a stone each to throw during SHARIA STONING ceremony.

 

I’m sure there are plenty of ‘sinful’ Muslim women like myself in Canada, specially amongst the young generation. And we are planning to take our ‘SINS’ public; perhaps in front of the Sharia Court Locations and Mosques nearby!  

 

Thank you for your attention,

 

Women First

Alberta, Canada

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Humanist Association of Canada

P.O. Box 8752 w Station T

Ottawa w Ontario w K1G 3J1

 

The Humanist Association of Canada's stand on Sharia  tribunals

 

As I grew up I saw much oppression of women by our society. Women are raped, tortured and killed by their husbands. I decided to protest against such inequalities and injustice, so I took up my pen against the social system and religion. - Taslima Nasrin

The welcome Canada offers newcomers is that all will be treated equally and fairly under the law. That has changed for Muslim women in Ontario whether newcomers or Canadians.

For the past 20 years the Canadian Society for Muslims has been pressing the Government of Ontario to allow Shari’a courts to be established: under the Arbitration Act, the Alternate Dispute Resolution system now allows this.

For most Canadians Shari’a brings to mind the sentence of stoning to death against Amina Lawal in Nigeria for alleged adultery and of hands being chopped off for theft. At this time such extreme punishments will not be introduced to Canada. Indeed, the Muslim authorities claim that a Shari’a court in Ontario will allow religious and cultural matters to be arbitrated in full accordance with Canadian law.

However, those same authorities, says Syed Mumtaz Ali, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, see the Darul-Qada, as a private Islamic Court of Justice to "apply our own Muslim Personal Law", including family law e,g, marriage, khula, (a type of separation payment subject to the whim of the husband), divorce, custody, guardianship, mehr division of property (known as 'Haq Mehr', it is intended to give the wife enough to survive on in the event of divorce or widowhood.), inheritance, gifts, waqf, (a religious endowment, a property giving revenues, considered as a part of the mosque.)

Shari’a has two main bodies of law: the first concerns itself with ritual and worship; the second covers regulations for juridical and political concerns. It is not merely a religious law but covers the totality of religious, political, social, domestic and private life. While Shari’a is often referred to as Islamic law, the Koran only supports a very small aspect of it. Shari’a is really a law devised by Muslim men, for Muslim men. Muslim women do not experience Shari’a as a law of equality.

One authority, Abdurrahmani'l-Djaziri, claims that the legal basis of Islam is the Shari’a …… a penal law, requiring the punishment of violators through an instrument of the state. Islam demands a religious state to enforce the law.

For these reasons, Muslim women in Canada and across the world are profoundly disturbed with the introduction of Shari’a law to Canada and are speaking up against it.

Why are Muslim women so upset? In all of the areas of Muslim Personal Law described above, women, with supposed authority from the Koran, are deemed to be inferior to men. For example, in matters of inheritance a man is equal to two women. If a parent were to leave all of his estate to a loyal and devoted daughter, a son would be able to claim at least two thirds of that estate, simply because he is a man.

Similarly, the right of a man regarding children is superior to that of a woman. (Western women who married a Muslim have discovered this to their sorrow.) In other words, a Muslim woman in Canada who accepts Shari’a, whether willingly or by coercion, has diminished rights. Let there be no misunderstanding: many women will be under tremendous community pressure to submit to this systematized inequality.

(Canadian divorce and inheritance laws cannot be held up as good examples of jurisprudence but at least women can challenge them without fear from would-be religious and political masters.)

Those who will be imposing Shari’a promise that no Canadian law will be ignored or broken. If the actions of Muslims in other Western democracies are anything to go by, this promise must be greeted with a large dose of skepticism. For example, forced marriages, where a woman sometimes as young as 12 has absolutely no choice in the matter when ordered to marry someone 30 or 40 years her senior, are kept hidden within Muslim communities.

Canadian Muslim women, however, are speaking up aggressively about their rights being diminished in Ontario because of the introduction of Shari’a law. In fact, so threatening is this development that members of The International Campaign for the Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran are spearheading a campaign to help Canadian Muslim women!

"I believe that the creation of a secular state - total separation of religion from the state – and education is the precondition to achieving women’s rights in society" These words by Arza Majedi, an Iranian exile, are, not being heeded in Canada. Muslims lose much by attempting to undermine the very equality under Canadian law which makes this country so attractive to Muslim women.

The religious and political Muslim hierarchy in Canada has missed an opportunity to show that Islam can exist with and accept the concepts of equality which is the foundation of a Western democracy. That Muslim women may be coerced into accepting diminished rights in Canada is not an achievement to be celebrated.

 

Jeffrey Perkins

 

1st Vice President

Humanist Association of Canada

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4

Mrs Marion Boyd
Arbitration Review
c/o 11th Floor, 720 Bay
Toronto, M5G 2K1
Boyd.review@jus.gov.on.ca

July 14, 2004


Dear Marion Boyd:
As a secular humanist group, The Humanist Association of Toronto, strongly supports the
separation of church and state.
That does not mean that we oppose the existence of religious groups. It does, however, mean that we oppose religious bodies or religious beliefs defining and affecting secular laws and practices.
We therefore vehemently oppose the use of The Arbitration Act 1991 by any group applying
religious definitions to what should be secular matters. For example, the definition of marriage acceptable under Shari’a would not be acceptable under Ontario Law. In fact, in some instances it might actually come under the criminal code.


Furthermore, as Secular Humanists, w e are particularly concerned with the plight of women in the application of the Arbitration Act 1991 to Family Law.
The Arbitration Act 1991 is an extremely useful tool for a variety of dispute settlements. But
not for Family Law. One of the main tenets of Canadian Law is the application of informed consent, a concept which does not seem to be enforced in the arbitration process. This has a particularly onerous effect on vulnerable women who are, in fact, restricted within their tight orthodox religious communities and who do not practice legal freedoms, as most women do, w ho are operating within the broader more open secular communities.


We draw particularly concern to women in the Muslim and Orthodox Jewish Communities.
We strongly urge the removal of Family Law from the Arbitration Act 1991.
If a separate arbitration act w ere enacted to deal only with Family Law, then that Act should clearly state the definitions of contentious matters such as ‘marriage’ and ‘consent’ using only
the terms current in Ontario Law. No other definitions should be applicable.
Yours truly,


Elka Enola


The Humanist Association of Toronto
 

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                                                                        5                                       

720 Bay Street 7th floor
                                                                                                             
July 21, 2004

To:  The Hon.  Marion Boyd

 

Dear Madam:

                        Re: Sharia Law Mediation

Having been a victim of the Sharia family law first in Karachi, Pakistan and then in Kuwait, I felt secure when I arrived in Canada in 1987 as for the first time in my life I felt my rights as a woman was protected and I could live in peace in Canada.  Thus, you can imagine my sense of horror when a few months back I read in “The Toronto Star” about the introduction of Sharia mediation being introduced in Canada.  Being a daily reader of newspapers, I was surprised that such an important issue affecting muslim women would not have had more media coverage, nor general debate before it was passed into law.

In Pakistan men felt that the divorce rate in the West exceeded that of women in the East mainly due to the western woman being emancipated and allowed to marry for love – whilst the eastern woman was restricted and subjected to arranged marriages and this lead to stability in the marriage.  In argument I always stated that the day the eastern woman was financially secure and confident enough to live on her own, there would be a lot more divorces in the East.  My assumption proved correct, as in Canada I heard many men complaining that their wives were spoilt and divorcing them as they had too many rights in Canada.  It was not the women being spoilt, but for once the eastern woman knew that if she left an abusive husband she would not (a) starve if she was uneducated and unable to work; (b) would not lose her children (unless she was an unfit mother); and (c) would be protected by the police and legal system if her husband tried molesting her in any way.  In the East women are scared of dealing with the police as there is no protection from the police should they abuse you.  As I once told my English boss in Kuwait, “As a single woman, I am more scared of the police than the robbers”.

The arguments that muslim men in favour of the Sharia law give is that: (a) Sharia is a part of Islam; (b) they are not going to be cutting off a woman’s hands; (c) marriages will not be against a girl’s will; and (d) divorce proceedings will be fair towards the woman and they will apply Sharia mediation mainly in family matters.  Well! it is family matters where the muslim woman suffers and is unfairly treated.  Sharia is not Islam – it is a law made by man for man!  Sharia differs from country to country, so it is not a consistent law – whilst the Quran is one for all muslims and has never been amended.  For example, in Saudi Arabia your hands are cut off for robbery – yet in Kuwait which is next door to Saudi Arabia, you go to jail for the same crime.  As regards a girl being forced into marriage, it may not occur in Canada as the girl can seek help from Children’s Aid.  The majority of forced marriages occur when the girl is taken to her country of origin under some pretext and forced into marriage “back home”.

In Kuwait I went to witness my friend’s marriage in court and I was told I could not be a witness as I was considered half a person.  Yet in the workforce, women in the East are not given half the workload of men.  The Quran has given women rights, but according to Sharia she is half a person and without a man by her side (be it a father, brother or husband) she is considered unworthy by society. 

I have a son, so Sharia mediation does not affect me.  However, after my past experience with Sharia law when I wanted to divorce an abusive husband and the hurdles I faced and huge expense I had to go through, I want to protect other muslim women from a similar fate.  As a Canadian who is living in such a wonderful country, I want to stress how important it is for the Canadian government to protect the rights of everyone and for muslim women this can only be done by taking away the 1991 Arbitration Act from Family Law so that all family disputes will be resolved in the Canadian secular court system.  Muslim women should enjoy the rights which other women do in this broad-minded country and we should not go backwards (as happened in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.) but should look forward to a better future.  Muslim women going to court if they are not satisfied with the outcome of Sharia mediation will not happen in most cases, as the women will be under tremendous pressure by their family to accept Sharia mediation and will be given the impression that they are unislamic – a thought worse than death for a muslim.

Hoping you will look into the above matter and help the muslim woman to regain her rights and dignity.  Thanking you.

Yours very truly,

 

Nasreen Shah
Legal Assistant
Goodmans LLP

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Dear Mr. Bryant,

 
I am writing to express my opposition to the introduction of Sharia law into Ontario under the Arbitration Act. Canadians have worked long and hard to ensure that we have the best legal system in the world; a system that all Canadians should be proud to call their own. While the intent of the Arbitration Act may have been to allow more freedom to religious groups within Ontario society, the reality is that many of Ontario's weakest citizens are at risk of losing basic human rights as a result of this Act. Sharia has no place in a modern, liberal democracy. I strongly urge you to review and amend the Arbitration Act as necessary in order to prevent the introduction of Sharia "law" into this country.
 
Sincerely yours,
Richard John Purvis
Toronto, Ont.

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7

720 Bay street,

 7th floor
Toronto, Ontario

 

July 23, 2004

 

Dear Ms.  Boyed

I am sending you this letter to explain why we, as an organization defending Iraqi women’s rights, strongly oppose the application of Shari’a court, here in Canada.

The application of Shari’a court in Canada is a dangerous proposal made by political Islamic forces which would jeopardize the well-being and human rights of thousands of women in Canada just because they were born Muslims. They seek a foot hold for terrorist political Islam in Canada disguised under “community rights”. Most of the women and men in the so-called Islamic communities fled their Islamic environment and came to Canada because of the repressive nature and inhumane laws and regulations imposed by Shari’a. They came to seek justice and secularism in the Canadian judicial system. The rules of Shari’a are totally against human rights and extensively misogynist. Islamists and Islam apologists say that human rights are Western concepts that do not apply in all so-called cultures. This is a prelude they use to justify their discrimination and strengthen their political power in their communities. Shari’a is in contrast to the right of women to choose and decide upon their lives. Shari’a allows the man to suppress his wife, arrange multiple marriages, beat his partner up, and deprive her of all her universal rights. The right to decide for her life becomes under Shari’a a male issue.

In conclusion, we demand the following as a basis to an equal legal system in Canada:

1. Total separation of religion from the Canadian legal system.

2. All family disputes to be resolved in a one secular Canadian system.

We call upon you to seriously consider the consequences of establishing such a court on the lives of thousands of women here in Canada and ask you to repeal this proposal and consider it against the Canadian principle of equality to all.

 

Yours truly,

 

Khayal Ibarhim

 

Khayal Ibrahim   

Defense of Iraqi Women’s Rights (DIWR), Canada Representative

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July 23, 2004 

To:          Ms. Marion Boyd

Arbitration Review

c/o 11th Floor, 720 Bay

Toronto, M5G 2K1 

Re: Denunciation of Shari’a Court in Canada 

Dear Ms. Boyd

 

It came to our knowledge the attempts of some political Islamists in Canada headed by Mumtaz Ali to establish an Islamic Tribunal in Ontario. This is clearly based on the Ontario Arbitration Act of 1991 that allows family and civil matters to be arbitrated according to religious code of the communities.

 

This, in our opinion, is a serious deviation from secularism, which millions of civilized people here in Canada and worldwide have been fighting to establish, in order to defend the values of equality between all people regardless of their differences. Secularism in Canada is in danger and the first victims of this Islamic Tribunal would be thousands of women and girls who would face the most backward and misogynist set of rules; the Islamic rules of Shari’a.

 

As you may well know, Shari’a is the Islamic law that was written almost 1400 years ago. It refers all matters of people living under its dominance to the will of God and not their own free will. Shari’a is against women in particular and considers women as inferior to men and should be beaten if they disobeyed the men of their families. Shari’a is not just another family law, it is one of the most comprehensive and detailed document that was designed for the purpose of creating a patriarchal society based on the subjugation of women and emphasize their inferiority to men. This has its political, economic, and social purposes and consequences. Things like inheritance, marriage, witness in courts, obligations and duties, role of women in society, and wealth distribution were all in the mind of the writer of Shari’a.

 

Canada as a secular society based on values of equality and civil liberties should not allow such a discriminative law to be given the legal status and to be practiced on thousands of unfortunate women who had originally fled their Islamic milieus and its reactionary inhumane Shari’as.

 

We strongly protest the introduction of such discriminative law and call upon you to consider the serious consequences on the fate of thousands of innocent women who will be coerced to live a miserable life. We in the Organization to Defend Secularism in Iraqi Society – ODSIS will do all we can to fight back this “Islamic Institute of Civil Justice” and consider it a infringement to secularism and the struggles and sacrifices of millions of civilized people here in Canada and around the world to defend secularism, freedom and equality of all people. We also call upon the Ontario Government to remove the Arbitration Act of 1991 from Family Law. All Canadian citizens should be under one secular Canadian law despite their ethnic and religious differences.

 

 

Truly yours,

 

 

Issam Shukri, Coordinator

ODSIS

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July 29, 2004

Ms. Marion Boyd

Arbitration Review

c/o 7th Floor

720 Bay Street

Toronto, ON, M5G 2K1

 

 

Dear Ms. Boyd:

 

 

On behalf of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers I am writing you out of concern about the proposed “Islamic Institute of Civil Justice”. While our organization encourages cultural sensitivity we also strongly believe in the protection of women’s rights.  

 

All Muslims have access to the Canadian legal system. We fear that there may be certain pressures applied for women to participate in this process. They could be cultural, physical, emotional and psychological. Particularly at risk are new immigrants unfamiliar with their rights under Canadian law. We fear that women will believe the Shari’a Law final and binding. Those that do know there is recourse in the courts may not be in a position to pursue it. In our view this will lead to more injustice.

 

We also believe that the Ontario example is setting a dangerous precedent and may be adopted in other jurisdictions should it be used here in Ontario.

 

The separation of church and state must remain. To incorporate Shari’a law (however interpreted) suggests that Canada is no longer a secular state but one that forces women to be “obedient.” The law will compel abused women to remain in abusive relationships.

 

The government must act to protect the rights of all citizens. Laws should not apply differently from citizen to citizen and especially to those in vulnerable positions.  It is our understanding that under the 1400-year-old law men have the right to beat their partners if not obeyed. According to Shari’a a woman’s testimony counts for less than a man’s. Under inheritance laws daughters receive less than sons. Men retain custody of children after age seven.

 

 

 

We believe that:

 

1.         Religion is the declared private affair of the individual. There should be a complete  separation of religion from education for children under the age 16.

 

2.         There must be prohibition of violent and inhuman religious ceremonies, practice and any form of religious activities that is incompatible with people’s civil rights and liberties and the principle of the equality of all.

 

We surely hope that such legislation will be rejected and the rights of women be protected.  A system were male privilege is reinforced and given a special place has no place in a democracy.  We believe the place to settle disputes are not under Shari’a but within a secular legal system.

Sincerely,

 

 

Deborah Bourque

National President

  Canadian Union of Postal Workers 

DB/bk cope 225

c.c.:      Dalton McGinty, Premier of Ontario

            National Executive Board

            Evert Hoogers

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Dear Homa and Mrs. Marion Boyd,

I am deeply honoured to have been invited to participate in this upcoming meeting to address the Ontario Arbitration Act of 1991. Thank you Homa. Thank you God for that day back in June when listening to the CBC radio as usual I came to be aware of this as a concern. A human rights issue in my backyard that I had no idea was going on, you bet I'm concerned.....very concerned.

I'm concerned and sometimes I feel downright angry. Sometimes I feel deceived and manipulated. I think it was Winnie the Pooh that said: the more I learn, the more I know. Whoever, I can relate. For nearly seventeen years I lived as a Canadian Non-resident as a guest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Yes, there came a point when it was most prudent and discreet to cover ones' head with a hejab when outside of ones living situation. No, we didn't come 'home' with scads and scads of money and yes, I guess for the most part we didn't mind living there....afterall, it was for almost seventeen years, eh?

Which brings me to the human rights issues currently being addressed in regard to the Arbitration Act of 1991 in Ontario. I had no idea that Shari'a Law was being practiced in this province, let alone in any western 'zionist' country for that matter. I thought military troops, ours and those from other countries went into Afghanistan as they did on human rights issues as they existed their under the Taliban, under Shari'a Law.

I'm overwhelmed as memories of moments come flooding back, as I converse with friends and buddies from those days in the Kingdom, hindsight, stories coming to me now as I mention my concerns to those around me, friends and family here. As the expression goes, I'm actively connecting dots.

A friend of a friend, who I'd met before was awfully dismal this particular day in the Kingdom. Understandably so, her husband had divorced her the day before. She was to leave the Kingdom forever that night. That's Shari'a Law. She met her Saudi husband of fifteen years when he was in the United States studying at university. They'd had five children together, three boys and two girls. She could take one of the girls, not both and definitely not the boys. That's Shari'a Law. He was getting her traveling papers in order that day. He needed to know by such and such a time which daughter she was taking with her so that he might have her papers in order as well. Women aren't allowed to carry their own passports or obtain their own visas. These are male concerns, that's Shari'a Law.

That was a very sad day as are these days connecting dots, becoming more and more aware of the fact that Shari'a Law has been being practiced in this province, for really now, how long??? Yes, this concerns me very much! Inherently there are huge human right as well as women's rights issues here, things that if we don't stop will become irrevocable and Ontario will have two-tiered government as well as two-tiered health care. One rule for the 'Canadian' lady another of bondage for the lady that follows the Islamic faith? Now how fair is that??? Another question, does that make one of us more Canadian than the other? Canadians value life. We value human dignity and fair play.

M'thinks this Arbitration Act, likely designed and considered in good faith, has run a-muck. I think it's being taken advantage of. I think it's being manipulated in a most insidious way, a dangerous and threatening manner. For all of us, but especially and specifically at this time for the Muslim lady, her family and for many, what they came here to escape from...Shari'a Law. Hence, as a concern, it's imperative that this act be reviewed in a most serious manner and be done soon....very, very soon. I feel strongly, with all of my being that we cannot allow Shari'a Law to exist here and if it does, then I think we'd better get on with weeding it out. It's a threat, physical and emotional, to ladies and girls living in our province. Some of whom already carry our passport, hence call themselves Canadian. Some still attaining, some as refugees. In any case, all of these women are in jeopardy in our province if we don't do something about this...NOW!!! There are lives being threatened, lives at stake.

Someone I know very well works in Obstetrics in a hospital down Toronto way, has done so for thirty-five years. She's seen the father's of some of the babies she's delivered from teenage girls. Aghast, she couldn't believe it was legal, but it was here, they were out in the open, it must be. She had no reason to believe the marriage wasn't legal, just disgusting. Yes, the penny drops, another dot is connected....Shari'a Law. The marriage isn't legal in Ontario at all! Ontario doesn't even know. At least until now.

I know our Canadian Charter confers freedom of religion. I just assumed, as I assume have many Canadians that it was personal, thusly a private affair of the individual, to quote Homa Arjomand. She's right. In Canada, in secular governments, it means just that. Again, in Canada I thought as I presume many do that we would take issue with any ceremony of a violent and inhuman nature, considered religious or otherwise. That is what we're doing right now, taking issue with those very issues, issues of human rights, issues of women's rights as we appreciate them in Canada, for everyone.

We have a voice and we must make it known, it's imperative that we do not just for the women in Ontario and Canada but world wide. To accept Shari'a Law is regressive, not progressive at all. To accept Shari'a Law confers the husbands right to beat his wife if he deems it necessary. It means no women divorces a man, that's against Shari'a Law. Men divorce women, not the other way around. It means from a very young age boys are taught their rights, which is seen as superior to any woman in their lives, sister, mother, grandmother, the lady next door. He too can beat a woman he sees as disobediant to him. Shari'a court can confer a temporary wife on a husband who feels he's no choice but to without sexual priviledges from his wife, usually for reasons of demanded obediance. This temporary wife's presence in the husands life can be determined by Shari'a court...for a month? A week? Longer? Depends how severe they think the punishment should be and yes, sex with a wife is considered a priviledge as well as a right. Unlike many of us, me, these women do not have the right to say no. They don't have the right as we do, as I do. I'd call it rape, Shari'a court calls it a right and a perogative. I could go on and on.

I believe in equal and universal laws and freedoms for all humanity. Then again, if there are people here who'd really prefer to living where Shari'a Law is allowed and openly practiced, there are places on this planet they can go to. I will do everything in my power to not let it be here. I do not accept current wars based on transgressions of thousands of years ago. I do not accept the notion that young children are being brought up on my planet to believe that the war happening now has the same value as it did thousands of years ago. I do not accept Irish Catholic-Protestant fundamentalism where young girls raped are compelled to give birth to the child of that rapist should they become impregnated during that dreadful time. I do not accept the arranged marriage of any teenage girl to anyone, least of all a man, who I couldn't possibly call a gentleman, of years her senior....in any country. I do not accept the prohibitions, the degradations, the sentences and punishments as set out in Shari'a Law for Canada or any other western country. As I said, if there are those here who'd prefer Shari'a Law over secular law, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, there are other places to go to have that wish fulfilled. Canada is a secular country, end of story. We protect human rights. We know that human rights includes ALL humans, in this case there is no need to separate women's rights from those of all humans. In this case, there is every reason to specifically pay attention to the abuse of women's rights under Shari'a Law, in any country where it exists.

I sincerely hope our voices are heard before it's too late.

Yours truly,
Elizabeth Cuddy

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11

Dear  Boyd:

 
I would like to add my voice in opposition to the establishment of Shari'a "courts" in Ontario.  I oppose any recognition of this oppressive system of law in our country on several grounds.
The fundamentalists who wish to impose this outdated value system on Canadian women are displaying little or no respect for the laws of Canada or the values upon which our system of justice is based.  If they did, there would be no need for their courts.
Apparently, it is believed that decisions by these "courts" are subject to Canadian law should there be an appeal on the grounds that the decision violates fundamental principles of Canadian justice.  I believe that, if one really believes that this option exists in reality, it is extremely naive to expect a woman from a fundamentalist environment to defy her husband, the Shari'a court, her community and possibly her own family.  The best protection for these women exists in a Canadian court in the first instance, not as a hypothetical possibility after the fact.
The concept of a "religious court" is a direct violation of the the basic principals of "equality before the law", "the independence of the judiciary", and "the separation of church and state".  Muslim women subjected to these courts are not being treated equally before the law as is the case with  other Canadian women.  A  fundamentalist Muslim court can in no way be seen  as being independent from outside influences and pressures.  Religious courts were banned in our culture hundreds of years ago for very good reason.
The act of giving Shari'a courts a quasi-legal status in Ontario is discriminatory.  No other religious sect or cult enjoys this status.
Many churches offer counselling to their members to help with marital or other family problems but none have the "legal" right to make decisions that have the force of law. Only Canadian courts can decide on  matters such as legal custody of children and divorce. 
The granting of quasi-legal status to a fundamentalist Muslim court rooted in a tribal culture  from a distant past and an alien culture is anethma to Canada in the 21 st century.  It is a major step backward in our culture and a huge setback for women's rights in this country.  It is a betrayal of what Canadian women have achieved over the last 100 years, and it is a betrayal of those Muslim women who emigrated to a "western liberal democracy" in the hope of finally being free of an oppressive culture and of being treated equally as  human beings.
Multi-culturalism has many benefits for Canada, but it must not be used by those immigrants who refuse to compromise with their new country, or politicians seeking votes, to undermine our basic values and the unity of our nation.
As the father of 2 daughters, and as one who loves Canada and what it represents to the world, I beg you to reconsider.
 
Sincerely,
 
Eric Mitchinson

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12

Children first

July 26, 2004

Dear Mrs. Boyd,

I have been asked from our members around the globe to take active part in stopping Sharia Court in Ontario.

As a member and one of the co-founder of organization “Children First “I would like to inform you that we strongly oppose to Sharia Court in Ontario. Most of the members around world originally came from so called Moslem world.

We experienced the inhuman and uncivilized contend of this barbaric courts. This court is contrary to the most basic norm of human life. It is public knowledge in so called Moslem world how this court discernments against women and children, this is contrary of what media has portrayed the issue to the public either inside or outside western countries.

We would also like to emphasize that how the implementation even modernized of these courts would affect the daily civilized norms of children and women.

 

 

Children first        www.childrenfirstinternational.org/

                              jbarkh@rogers.com

Jalal barkhordar 

Ontario , Canada

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13

CALGARY and DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL

#307, 315 10th Avenue SE

CALGARY, ALBERTA T2G OW2     

BUS: (403) 262-2390

FAX: (403) 262-2408

Email: cdlc@telusplanet.net

 

August 10, 2004

The Honourable Sandra Pupatello

Minister of Community and Social Services

Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues

FAX: 416 325 5225

Dear Ms. Pupatello: 

RE: Sharia Court

 

On behalf of the Calgary and District Labour Council, I am writing to express our concern about the proposed “Islamic Institute of Civil Justice”. Our organization supports and celebrates cultural diversity, however; we actively work to ensure the protection of women’s rights in all circumstances.

Our concern regarding the Sharia Court process is that there may be pressures applied to women to participate in the process. These pressures could be cultural, physical, emotional and psychological. New immigrants unfamiliar with their rights under Canadian law could be particularly susceptible to these pressures. We are concerned that women will believe that the Sharia Court’s decisions are final and binding. Women who do know that there is recourse may not feel that they are in a position to pursue it after having been involved in a Sharia Court process. In our opinion the Sharia Court process will create inequities between men and women.

We believe that Ontario would be setting a dangerous precedent. The separation of church and state is essential to the Canadian social and legal environment. To incorporate Shari’a law suggests that Canada is no longer a secular state and the law will compel abused women to obediently remain in abusive relationships.

Your government must act to protect the rights of all Canadian citizens and residents. Our laws should be applied equitably to all citizens and residents regardless of their gender. It is our understanding that under the 1400-year-old Sharia law, men have the right to beat their female partners if they feel that their partners are not obedient. According to Sharia law a woman’s testimony counts for less than a man’s. Under inheritance laws daughters receive less than sons and men retain custody of children after age seven.

We urge you to ensure that Sharia Court legislation be rejected and that the rights of all women be protected. A process where male privilege is acknowledged in a Canadian dispute resolution process and where males are granted special privilege is contrary to Canadian principles of equality. We believe the place to settle disputes is not under Sharia, but within a secular legal system.

Sincerely yours in peace,

 

Gordon M. Christie

Executive Secretary/Organizer

Calgary and District Labour Council

 

c.c.:     Homa Arjomand

Coordinator, International Campaign against Sharia Court in Canada

 

 

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----- Original Message -----

From: Elizabeth Cuddy

To: norm_sterling@ontla.org

Cc: homawpi@rogers.com ; currielo@bmts.com ; news@ctv.ca

Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 8:40 AM

Subject: two-tiered gov't in ontario?




r. r. 2
kinburn, ontario
k0a 2h0

august 31, 2004

attention: mr. norm sterling,

first, i'd like to apologize for no capital letters. i've a broken arm, thank goodness i've a good sense of humour but upper case is hard....this is difficult enough! thank-you for understanding.

second it's about time if not too late, still i very much want to hear some vigorous opposition to allowing us to be manipulated and entrapped into allowing sharia law to exist here at all, least of all not with provincial government approval and i don't care who the premier is!!!

the arbitration act of 1991 under ontarios family law must go, be revoked, be tossed out. since it's inception based on saving time and money no one knows if it has succeeded at either. no records have been kept. that in itself in my mind is plenty of reason right there to have it revoked. no one knows if it's saved money or time? no records? no one knows who's used it? has there been coercion? has it been fair? priced right and fairly to the clients? has the arbitrator been neutral? not in a religious court! by profession of faith alone arbitration within a religious setting is not neutral nor can it be.

we're talking binding arbitration here mr. sterling that our civil courts must uphold as per our civil law. hence we have two-tiered government, civil and religious. is it not bad enough to have a two-tiered medical system in ontario? the ramifications of that within our province and across canada is one thing. to allow two-tiered government based on religious belief along side our civil courts nationally and internationally is another. not even the canadian council of muslim women understand why laws should be different for them. many of them came here, some under threat of their lives, to escape sharia.

mr. sterling, please, if not you, please get someone standing up in government to ensure that sharia law cannot legally exist here, that muslim women are safe, that we will not allow two-tiered government to exist in ontario.

thank you.

yours truly,
elizabeth cuddy
(613) 839 - 0825

.......my letter to mrs. boyd

Dear Homa and Mrs. Marion Boyd,

I am deeply honoured to have been invited to participate in this upcoming meeting to address the Ontario Arbitration Act of 1991. Thank you Homa. Thank you God for that day back in June when listening to the CBC radio as usual I came to be aware of this as a concern. A human rights issue in my backyard that I had no idea was going on, you bet I'm concerned.....very concerned.

I'm concerned and sometimes I feel downright angry. Sometimes I feel deceived and manipulated. I think it was Winnie the Pooh that said: the more I learn, the more I know. Whoever, I can relate. For nearly seventeen years I lived as a Canadian Non-resident as a guest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Yes, there came a point when it was most prudent and discreet to cover ones' head with a hejab when outside of ones living situation. No, we didn't come 'home' with scads and scads of money and yes, I guess for the most part we didn't mind living there....afterall, it was for almost seventeen years, eh?

Which brings me to the human rights issues currently being addressed in regard to the Arbitration Act of 1991 in Ontario. I had no idea that Shari'a Law was being practiced in this province, let alone in any western 'zionist' country for that matter. I thought military troops, ours and those from other countries went into Afghanistan as they did on human rights issues as they existed their under the Taliban, under Shari'a Law.

I'm overwhelmed as memories of moments come flooding back, as I converse with friends and buddies from those days in the Kingdom, hindsight, stories coming to me now as I mention my concerns to those around me, friends and family here. As the expression goes, I'm actively connecting dots.

A friend of a friend, who I'd met before was awfully dismal this particular day in the Kingdom. Understandably so, her husband had divorced her the day before. She was to leave the Kingdom forever that night. That's Shari'a Law. She met her Saudi husband of fifteen years when he was in the United States studying at university. They'd had five children together, three boys and two girls. She could take one of the girls, not both and definitely not the boys. That's Shari'a Law. He was getting her traveling papers in order that day. He needed to know by such and such a time which daughter she was taking with her so that he might have her papers in order as well. Women aren't allowed to carry their own passports or obtain their own visas. These are male concerns, that's Shari'a Law.

That was a very sad day as are these days connecting dots, becoming more and more aware of the fact that Shari'a Law has been being practiced in this province, for really now, how long??? Yes, this concerns me very much! Inherently there are huge human right as well as women's rights issues here, things that if we don't stop will become irrevocable and Ontario will have two-tiered government as well as two-tiered health care. One rule for the 'Canadian' lady another of bondage for the lady that follows the Islamic faith? Now how fair is that??? Another question, does that make one of us more Canadian than the other? Canadians value life. We value human dignity and fair play.

M'thinks this Arbitration Act, likely designed and considered in good faith, has run a-muck. I think it's being taken advantage of. I think it's being manipulated in a most insidious way, a dangerous and threatening manner. For all of us, but especially and specifically at this time for the Muslim lady, her family and for many, what they came here to escape from...Shari'a Law. Hence, as a concern, it's imperative that this act be reviewed in a most serious manner and be done soon....very, very soon. I feel strongly, with all of my being that we cannot allow Shari'a Law to exist here and if it does, then I think we'd better get on with weeding it out. It's a threat, physical and emotional, to ladies and girls living in our province. Some of whom already carry our passport, hence call themselves Canadian. Some still attaining, some as refugees. In any case, all of these women are in jeopardy in our province if we don't do something about this...NOW!!! There are lives being threatened, lives at stake.

Someone I know very well works in Obstetrics in a hospital down Toronto way, has done so for thirty-five years. She's seen the father's of some of the babies she's delivered from teenage girls. Aghast, she couldn't believe it was legal, but it was here, they were out in the open, it must be. She had no reason to believe the marriage wasn't legal, just disgusting. Yes, the penny drops, another dot is connected....Shari'a Law. The marriage isn't legal in Ontario at all! Ontario doesn't even know. At least until now.

I know our Canadian Charter confers freedom of religion. I just assumed, as I assume have many Canadians that it was personal, thusly a private affair of the individual, to quote Homa Arjomand. She's right. In Canada, in secular governments, it means just that. Again, in Canada I thought as I presume many do that we would take issue with any ceremony of a violent and inhuman nature, considered religious or otherwise. That is what we're doing right now, taking issue with those very issues, issues of human rights, issues of women's rights as we appreciate them in Canada, for everyone.

We have a voice and we must make it known, it's imperative that we do not just for the women in Ontario and Canada but world wide. To accept Shari'a Law is regressive, not progressive at all. To accept Shari'a Law confers the husbands right to beat his wife if he deems it necessary. It means no women divorces a man, that's against Shari'a Law. Men divorce women, not the other way around. It means from a very young age boys are taught their rights, which is seen as superior to any woman in their lives, sister, mother, grandmother, the lady next door. He too can beat a woman he sees as disobediant to him. Shari'a court can confer a temporary wife on a husband who feels he's no choice but to without sexual priviledges from his wife, usually for reasons of demanded obediance. This temporary wife's presence in the husands life can be determined by Shari'a court...for a month? A week? Longer? Depends how severe they think the punishment should be and yes, sex with a wife is considered a priviledge as well as a right. Unlike many of us, me, these women do not have the right to say no. They don't have the right as we do, as I do. I'd call it rape, Shari'a court calls it a right and a perogative. I could go on and on.

I believe in equal and universal laws and freedoms for all humanity. Then again, if there are people here who'd really prefer to living where Shari'a Law is allowed and openly practiced, there are places on this planet they can go to. I will do everything in my power to not let it be here. I do not accept current wars based on transgressions of thousands of years ago. I do not accept the notion that young children are being brought up on my planet to believe that the war happening now has the same value as it did thousands of years ago. I do not accept Irish Catholic-Protestant fundamentalism where young girls raped are compelled to give birth to the child of that rapist should they become impregnated during that dreadful time. I do not accept the arranged marriage of any teenage girl to anyone, least of all a man, who I couldn't possibly call a gentleman, of years her senior....in any country. I do not accept the prohibitions, the degradations, the sentences and punishments as set out in Shari'a Law for Canada or any other western country. As I said, if there are those here who'd prefer Shari'a Law over secular law, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, there are other places to go to have that wish fulfilled. Canada is a secular country, end of story. We protect human rights. We know that human rights includes ALL humans, in this case there is no need to separate women's rights from those of all humans. In this case, there is every reason to specifically pay attention to the abuse of women's rights under Shari'a Law, in any country where it exists.

I sincerely hope our voices are heard before it's too late.

Yours truly,
Elizabeth Cuddy

----my current letter to the media i can reach....:)

r.r. 2
kinburn, ontario
k0a 2h0

august 31, 2004



dear mr. dewolfe,

august 11, 2004 thirty-four people sat alongside homa arjomand as we joined her in presenting our cases opposing the ontario arbitration act of 1991 under family law provisions to mrs. marion boyd. mrs. boyd was designated by mr. mcquinty under the office the attorney general to review this act and i presume it's validity.

our specific concern that day, in opposition to this act is the allowing of an islamic judicial court to exist in ontario to which not only do i believe is dangerous and a threat here but the international ramifications will be as well only bigger. I'm not alone with that concern. at this meeting with mrs. boyd i heard yet more stories of terror and escape. stories of people imprisoned, stories of people tortured, stories of why sharia law should not be allowed here.

sharia law, what is it? it's as old as islam itself, they say 1,400 years. it's the law of islam, it's the law of the quaran. it's the law in nigeria, malaysia, iraq, saudi arabia, iraq and yes, afghanistan where we sent our troops to free the people, specifically, the women. sharia law goes against everything we believe in here particularly in terms of human rights, which of course, in canada, almost without saying so includes women's rights.

mr. mumtaz ali, the lawyer who's spear heading this islamic court in ontario once called himself a canadian, for nearly twenty years at that. now he refers to himself as a wandering Bedouin, a muslim with no earthly home only that which god wills. he claims this islamic court, part one of the plan he's laid out which can be found on his website (http://muslim-canada.org/word.htm) will deal just with islamic family law issues. things like, the disobedient wife and what to do...beat her? perhaps the court will order the husband a temporary wife for a day, a week, month, year...the court will set the duration of the punishment. on the death of the husband, the court will ensure that the sons get their just deserts, the major part of whatever inheritance there is. the boys learn from a very young age of their superiority over women. mr. ali assures us there will be no coercion used whatsoever, all participants will be there willingly. to which i say, phooey and balderdash! women do not go to islamic court, men do!

i've lived under sharia law myself. i've a particular memory sitting with a western lady, mother of five, married for fifteen years to a saudi. he had divorced her the day before. she was to leave that night. the three boys would stay, she was allowed to choose one of her daughters. she had until five that afternoon to choose so the proper traveling papers and visas could be arranged in time for the flight or the moment of choice would be lost to her.

i managed a meeting with high up officials when i pulled both of my children from what was to be a class of middle east studies. first, the teacher was telling them eve was the threat in the garden of eden, hence women were to be covered head to foot, protected, the source of a threat, a distraction to men. second, i took issue with any children being told that the left hand is a dirty hand, left handed people worked by the devil. i accept that in islam, muslims are specifically directed as to left hand use. i do not accept my non-muslim children in a class of geographical and custom lessons being taught, hence led to believe left-handed people are the work of the devil. yes indeed, that incident got me into see authorities within two days. the teacher was removed. i've seen bibles confiscated and spit on, crosses removed from necklaces.

the arbitration act of 1991 was brought in to speed things up in our courts and to save money. mrs. boyd made it very clear that our government as no answers as to either saving, the dollars or time, because no records have been kept. they don't even know who's been using this act if it's been used at all! it was said rabbinical courts having been using this arbitration act for awhile, but they don't know for sure. there are no records. now mr. mumtaz ali wants our civil courts to uphold rulings made under the laws of sharia that come down from an ontario islamic court. afterall, the arbitration is binding and our courts therefore must uphold the ruling....by our civil law.

the arbitration act clearly states that the arbitrator must be a neutral party. i don't see how that can happen in a religious context because rabbi, priest, minister or therapist they are all committed by position to be anything but neutral as to the teachings they preach, hence believe in. that's not neutral to me, especially if an imam is involved. the act says everyone must attend willingly, without coercion. sharia is all about coercion. specifically, the choice of the woman is attendance or ostrasization and that would be death. it would mean a young teenage girl must accept the commitment of marriage her family has arranged for her, be the wedding in the near future or later, be the husband-to-be of her age or twice her age. yes, here in ontario. as it is, our federal government has allowed poligamy to exist here. some muslim men have been allowed to claim wife number one as wife, the others as dependents.

the arbitration act as it currently stands i feel must be totally revoked. records have not been kept in the land of cover thy butt in paper, minimum by three, since its inception, that's reason enough to me right there. it's misuse as we're being shown now is another. this attempt to manipulate and entrap to me is scarie. we've two-tired medical services here, do we want two-tired government? one law for us another for others? the canadian council of muslim women has it right when their quote is that "it sees no compelling reason to live under any other form of law in canada, as we want the same laws to apply to us as to other canadian women"

wednesday, september 08 there will be demonstrations here in canada from coast to coast as well as internationally across europe and other places. here in ottawa, it will be held at the local offices of mr. dalton mcquinty in alta vista. for more information: www.nosharia.com

thank-you.

yours truly,




elizabeth cuddy
(613) 839 - 0825