Sharia Law and the Globalization of Political Islam
I am very pleased to be here amongst you all, next to Ayaan Hersi Ali and Irshad Manji. It is hard to find opportunities such as this; to be able to share the idea of having a better life for all and identify with the supporters in an audience such as yourselves. So I will make the most of these moments by giving the focus of this discussion to the topic of this conference, Sharia Law and the Globalization of Political Islam.
I need to emphasize that I am talking about political Islam as a movement. As a movement it is very active in politics and is after its own state. Other aspects such as culture and laws serve its political desire and its political needs.
I also need to highlight that Islam, as an ideological, theoretical and ethical religion, has enough resources available not only to sustain itself, but also to expand its activities globally. I also will discuss the relation between Islamic terrorism and political Islam. I will then expand my discussion to the move for the establishment of Sharia court in Canada and its relation to political Islam.
The movement of political Islam has its own characteristics. It differs from fundamentalism and radical Islam; these terminologies do not describe the movement that I am about to discuss.
Fundamentalism is a name given to certain groups that act as sects and focus on returning to original values and beliefs in personal and social life. If this is so, then all Islamic groups can be called ‘fundamentalist’ because no changes have been accepted in Islam since its coming into existence. Also, any social group which has tendencies to rely on pre-historic origins can be called fundamentalist yet not be involved in politics at all. The reality is that most Islamic groups are very involved in society.
We call this movement political Islam simply because it precedes a political power. It has a varied and wide ranges. After the revolution of Iran in 1979, this movement organized itself as a state, realizing that it is able to achieve its goals socially, culturally, and religiously on a macro level.
This movement rides on the mass of people who are oppressed and isolated. The ones who are out of patience with discrimination and oppression and have no hope for social improvement by parties in power and have no hope for modern and progressive alternatives. This movement appears as anti-western, not necessarily anti ‘western government’, but rather anti ‘western values and standards’. Their conduct is primarily in the form of opposition to the freedom of women, women’s civil liberties, and freedom of expression. It is misogynistic and goes against modernism. It is extremely anti-secular and anti-socialist.
This is a movement that will not hesitate to do anything in order to push back its opposition and gain recognition by the states in the West. This is sometimes done through terrorizing people by implanting bombs in the busiest streets, cinemas, subway stations, hospitals and schools. This creates a parallel power structure within the surrounding societies. This movement will do anything to penetrate the legal system, whether it uses a bad piece of legislation such as the Ontario Arbitration Act 1991 or by taking the law into its own hands by preaching upon complete different human relations within society. This is done by removing civic culture where citizens are free and equal, and replacing it with ethics laid down in the Sharia.
This movement has no actual economic or social plan, but it is aware that any form of democracy in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt would end up in a mass secular uprising and the growth of labor movements. Even in Saudi Arabia no sheik could survive more than a few days if true democracy were allowed to exist. This movement was nourished by Western governments during the cold war and its purpose was to suppress and neutralize the increasing people’s movement, which it only achieved by violence and the enforcement of brutal laws and traditions. Now political Islam has taken on international dimensions. The notion of fundamentalism was put forward in order to rescue sections of political Islam that still have some use in the Middle East.
The terror that this movement has committed outside its region, presents just a fraction of its aggression towards humanity. Imagine its aggression and its hostility towards people in places where this movement runs its own state and has absolute control of law and regulations. Imagine what will happen to its opposition in places where it has its own army and police! In those places anyone who shows opposition, in any way possible, will be arrested, tortured and executed. No one will be safe at work, school, on the street or in their home.
I would like to strongly stress the point that one needs to know about the characteristics of political Islam in order to be able to identify its active members and separate them totally from the people whose faith is Islam. We should not put these very different groups into one category. To make my point clear, Political Islam is similar to fascism in Germany. Have you ever heard of German people in general being identified as Fascist?
There should be no connection made between political Islamic groups and people whose faith is Islam.
Another point that needs to be emphasized is that of separating the idea of a country from the religion of the people living there. No one calls Canada a Christian country, although Christianity may be the religion of the majority. In the same way no-one should call Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan Muslim countries . It is a huge political misdirection that is done intentionally in order to mislead the whole world about the real situation in the Middle East and North Africa. By calling them Islamic, people in those countries are blamed for the inhuman actions of States, of reactionary groups and of the Political Islamic movement. By lumping them into one category, it makes it appear as if all people in those countries hate the secular nature of society. It is as if women in Iran and Afghanistan love the “veil” being imposed on them and love to be disfigured by a jar of acid to honour their culture. The stark reality is that this type of mis-identification is legitimizing the oppressive governments and reactionary movements. If left unchecked, this mis-identification will create a comprehensive social, legal, intellectual, emotional, geographical and civil apartheid.
Islamic terrorism is a military section of Political Islam. This movement works by causing fear among people and aims to solidify its position in the Middle East. In fact, it is a power struggle for more recognition. It is telling the western governments to leave the Middle East and Africa and to validate political Islam by supporting Islamic states. Political Islam with its terrorist action clearly says that if you don’t recognize Islamic states, terrorism is what people in the West will face. The September 11 terrorist crimes against humanity that slaughtered thousands of innocent people in the USA was not an isolated act.
The reality is that terrorism is an act to push the parties in power in the West to choose between the “Bad” and the “Worse”. It should come as no surprise to anyone if they see another dictatorial and backward regime after the Taliban in Afghanistan or after Saddam Houssein in Iraq. As I said, the Western states need to choose between bad and worse.
The establishment of Shari’a court in Canada is part of a global political move by Islamists. This has nothing to do with people’s personal faith. As I have said before, this move to be recognized and to gain credibility needs to get involved socially, culturally, and legally. It needs to put pressure on the parties in power in the West to get involved and to play a role in the social metabolism, especially in education, economics and law. So it should not come as a surprise that Sharia law has come to the University of Toronto where two professors have been hired to teach sharia law and regulation. The more this movement gains credibility, the more it can attack secularism and our progressive achievements. There should be no doubt that their first attempt is to target women’s hard earned accomplishments. Once more I need to emphasize the fact that the establishment of Sharia court is the next step towards further ghettoizing and isolating a section of society. In the name of “respect for multiculturalism” and the shameful ideas of cultural relativism which leave people at the mercy of their own culture, the state has left the doors wide open for religions and adherents of old traditions to promote religious schools and centers; to legalize arranged and forced marriages; to segregate boys and girls at a very young age in school, on school buses and in playgrounds; to prevent girls from obtaining equal opportunities in all aspects of their lives; to see but to ignore honor killings, and so on. In reality the initiators of Sharia court would never say that they want sharia court in order to oppress women and children or to attack today’s norms and standards; instead they claim they are practicing their religious rights because their number have grown to 600,000.
What is the solution?
I can’t issue a specific prescription to get rid of this monster, but I know that the guiding principle of our movement, that we should not allow humanity to suffer more than it has to, is totally removed from political Islam. Don’t forget that today we are challenging a Political movement which has no respect for life.
It is our duty to cherish humanity and respect it dearly, irrespective of class, nationality, race, gender or religion. Values such as freedom, well-being and the happiness of all must be put at the centre of our Universe. We should stand for equal and universal rights, and freedom for all human beings. Secularism should come forward in full force for the separation of religion from the state and from education. Any attempt to undermine freedom of religion must be prevented. Any law and regulation that is in violation of the principle of human equality must be immediately repealed, and all cases of discrimination by any individual, authority or institution, should be voided. We must denounce this policy of multiculturalism that keeps the minority community from playing a major role in society. This policy keeps the minority community in a cultural, political and intellectual quarantine. Instead we must promote integration.
Finally I invite you to join us in this campaign and build a strong power to oppose Sharia /faith based court in Ontario. The first step in this regard is to compel the government of Ontario to withdraw this discriminative legislation and become more loyal to secular law.