A little more about that meeting and press conference at the UN last week. It’s interesting that one of the available articles is from the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – since Canada has some ‘issues’ itself on this stuff, as regular readers of B&W know. Homa Arjomand has been working tirelessly to oppose the introduction of Sharia law in Ontario, but Ontario in its wisdom has not changed its decision. Ontario should have been at the UN last Monday. Ontario needs to pay attention.
Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant who has become a prominent women’s advocate in the Dutch parliament, said European countries have to accept that women are more threatened within Muslim communities than in their wider secular societies. Governments must take measures to protect these vulnerable women, even if such action is deemed culturally insensitive to the Islamic community or leads to accusations of anti-Muslim bias, she said. “If you look at the women’s shelters in the Netherlands, the majority of the victims are women from non-Western countries and the majority of them are Muslim women,” she said. “Liberal democratic governments are not interfering because they argue that that’s their culture,” she added.
And if they’re Ontario they go beyond not interfering, and actually help. Not clever. Not even all that culturally sensitive, really. Culturally sensitive toward fundamentalists who want to push women around, but damn insensitive toward the women who don’t want to be pushed. Odd to take the side of the former rather than the latter, isn’t it.
Respecting cultural diversity is really a form of “upside-down racism,” preventing immigrant women from enjoying the same freedom and protection as native European women, said Iranian activist Azam Kamguian. While Europe pays lip service to universal human rights, it is in reality “bribing Islamic countries and Islamists to give up terrorism and then saying the rest is OK,” Kamguian said. By turning a blind eye to Islam’s hostility toward homosexuality and Jews, European governments are buying “a one-way ticket to the Middle Ages,” Hirsi Ali said.
And they don’t even get frequent flier miles. Not clever and not even smart shopping.
Homa gives an example.
In communities where Sharia law interferes with people’s lives, family problems are not simply disagreements between a man and a woman and who gets what. In fact, private matters and religion are closely linked together. To make my point clear, I would like to present one case study I have come across in my social work. I have a client in Toronto who was taken out of school by her parents at the age of 15 and forced to marry a 29 year old man; according to Sharia, she is married whilst under the Canadian legal system she is not. At the age of 16, this young pregnant girl is going through separation because of domestic abuse. In a secular court, the fact that she was forced to marry at a young age is considered a crime and her husband will be charged for assault and child abuse. As for her parents, they too will be charged. The Children’s Aid Society will get involved and if they have any other children younger than 16, all will be moved out to the Aid Society’s care. While in the eyes of the Sharia tribunal no crime has taken place and the matter is a civil one, which can be resolved by the Islamic tribunal, under the modern secular system of Canada, the child will be immediately protected and the abusers prosecuted.
Cultural sensitivity, eh?