A Party in Toronto

Excellent article on sharia in Ontario in the Toronto Star. Lynda Hurst corrects one widespread misapprehension (I certainly shared it):

The decision means there will be no domestic tribunals in this province based on Orthodox Jewish, or Islamic sharia, laws. No other faiths come into it. None ever did. Contrary to government comments in past media reports and current statements by Jewish and Muslim activists, no known Christian church has made use of Ontario’s 1991 Arbitration Act to settle marital breakdown or child custody disputes. “I’ve consulted fairly widely and no one is aware of any such thing,” says lawyer Janet Buckingham of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “Of course, churches mediate and counsel if people request it, but arbitrating legal matters? No.”

It was all smoke and mirrors. How about that.

But that was just one of the many distortions and red herrings that flourished in this rancorous controversy. Time and again, in letters and columns, sharia advocates accused opponents of spreading propaganda, of claiming sharia courts would see women in Ontario stoned to death for conjugal infractions: How paranoid of these bigots, right? In fact, no one involved on the anti side ever said that, or anything close. Time and again, and with breathtaking arrogance, advocates dismissed the Muslim women who led the no-sharia fight as a Westernized elite, an educated minority who demeaned other, more recently arrived women in the guise of protecting them.

They should have sent Madeleine Bunting an invitation, she would have come over and helped with that last line of ‘argument’.

Most unsettling of all was the ease with which sharia advocates played the religion card, accusing Muslim opponents – and thousands of other objectors across Canada and a nervous world – of Islamophobia.

That’s a popular card. What a good thing that tactic failed.

When the consultations turned to sharia, dozens of Muslim women and men told Boyd that sharia, in all its myriad forms, is inherently and uniformly biased against women. They explained that it is not religious doctrine, but a cultural “code for living,” a man-made series of laws written after the death of Muhammad in 632 that’s now been politicized in many countries…Escaping sharia’s pervasive presence is the very reason many Muslims have immigrated to Canada. They assumed that, if not officially secular, Canada did, at least, keep religion and the state separate and apart. Many, such as the tireless no-sharia campaign leader Homa Arjomand, an Iranian refugee, were stunned to learn sharia had followed them.

Good on her for crediting Homa. Tireless indeed. She led this whole campaign, and what a lot she accomplished. I know I said it before, but – well done, Homa.

Boyd, however, green-lighted the continued use of “faith-based” arbitration, including sharia, albeit with costly and impractical safeguards in place. Her report, ironically, was subtitled Protecting Choice, Promoting Inclusion. It would have done neither. Had the province allowed its female Muslim citizens to be pressured into accepting the dictates of sharia tribunals or face community ostracism, or worse, their exclusion from the Canadian mainstream would have been sealed. Since when was that the aim of multiculturalism? It took months of relentless speeches, petitions, panels and protests to counter Boyd’s na├»ve recommendations and stop the province from setting a dangerous precedent. After unanimous objections by female Liberal MPs and ultimately all three parties*, McGuinty finally overcame his fear of acting.

*And international demonstrations three days before McGuinty acted, and an open letter from Margaret Atwood, Maud Barlow and a long list of journalists, writers and the like, a few hours before McGuinty acted.

There’s a party to celebrate this evening – in fact it must be going on right now, since it started at 7 and it’s either 9 or 10 there now. (What zone is Toronto in? Eastern, or central? Central, probably – but I’m not sure. How ignorant.) Have fun, all!

Galloway tried to rebuke Toronto over the sharia matter yesterday, a Harry’s Place reader reports. But it didn’t win him many friends. Bastard!

Galloway only lost the crowd at one point, when he criticized the NDP’s stand against Sharia law in Ontario. He told the audience that this was catering to the right-wing and risked dividing the anti-war movement.

Catering to the right wing is it. Unlike fawning on tyrants. Gah.

I have to listen to the debate one of these days. I’m dreading it. I heard excerpts on Today, and listening to Galloway bellow and shout and rant is not my idea of a good time.

12 Responses to “A Party in Toronto”