Sholto Byrnes is “rethinking Islamism”

Oh jeezis – the New Statesman is telling us to love sharia now – at least Sholto Byrnes is on the NS blog, and he wouldn’t be doing that if the NS didn’t approve. If you see an article in the Nation telling us to love Nazism you’re entitled to conclude that the Nation has lost its mind and is endorsing Nazism. Same with sharia – and yes they are pretty similar. They at least share a ballpark.

But the very concept of sharia has been so oversimplified by scaremongers that in the popular imagination it is inextricably linked with the punishments of beheading, flogging and amputation for crimes such as theft and adultery, and for which Saudi Arabia has long been notorious.

Yes, that’s right, along with stoning to death, and rules of evidence that mean men accused of rape can just say “I didn’t do it” and get off while the women who make the accusation are then automatically convicted of adultery because after all they have admitted to fornication by accusing the man of rape and the man said he didn’t do it (and the woman forgot to bring along the requisite four men of good character to watch, without whom she has no case), so she must be flogged or perhaps stoned to death. And similar items of limpid justice and fairness.

Then Byrnes quotes Tariq Ramadan saying it’s all a misunderstanding, then Byrnes says it’s all a misunderstanding some more, without ever actually managing to offer a particular example of sharia being a good thing. He says in Malaysia it’s not so bad because it applies only to Muslims (which is dubious itself), but he still doesn’t say why it’s actually good. Then he concludes with a great burst of powerful argument:

Of course, there are plenty who will object to any legal system or way of life that has a religious basis, regardless of how it operates. But the one word that is, above all, associated with sharia, stressed by Ramadan in his writings, Mahathir in his interview with me, by Bernard Lewis in his latest book and by countless others, is “justice”. I think we can agree that it is not just Islamists who are in favour of that.

Lots of people say sharia has something to do with “justice,” therefore…

Oh, god. It’s too depressing.

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