2.17.2009

UK vs. Sharia

The UK is currently looking to classify all Sharia beliefs as extremist. If the plan goes forward, those who strictly abide by the Islamic scripture will find themselves on the opposite side of British Law. The Guardian reports that the change would, "widen the definition of extremists to those who hold views that clash with what the government defines as shared British values." The government believes that by targeting hardline Muslims, the nation will be better able to combat terrorists.

What probably interests most of us is how this measure will effect Sharia's views on homosexuality. Islamic law does not beat around the bush when condemning same-sex love; many Muslims, from Mecca to Madrid, strictly enforce this social code. In a 2007 UK survey, 65% of the general population found homosexuality "acceptable", compared with a paltry 5% within the nation's Muslim communities. If Britain looks to classify all Sharia beliefs as extremist, the book's anti-gay sentiments will fall under the category.

While I disagree with several tenants of Sharia, I can't help but feel that the UK's plans carry a tinge of xenophobia. Such a law only expands the schism between "us" and "the other" -- that sort of isolation breeds more anger and resentment, I can only see more bad than good come from it.

3 comments:

libhom said...

Does the law ban people following Sahria themselves or just trying to impose it on others?

Anonymous said...

In a secular society, one criminal and personal-status law has to apply to all the people. Once there are separate laws for each religion/ethnicity, chaos ensues.

I think it is just fine if individuals voluntarily adhere to sharia as long as the secular law of the land is not disobeyed. Sharia marriage agreements concerning property issues are just "prenuptial contracts" by another name, legal if entered into voluntarily by adults of sound mind. Invoking the right to kill apostates or adulterous wives, and preventing members of the community from accessing the secular law or leaving the community, cannot be allowed. What can be allowed is ostracizing the offender from the Islamic community.

It's pretty clear that legally enforceable sharia law and secular law are not going to be compatible except as regards property contracts. The state has to maintain the exclusive right to define criminal offenses and their punishment, and to define rights inherent in citizenship. Making two separate laws for the citizenry is likely to exacerbate hostility toward Muslims in non-Muslim countries. Voluntary adherence of adults to certain sharia laws, with the penalty being exclusion from the community, is None Of My Business, and doesn't evoke any hostility in me - I don't care what Catholics do either, just don't make it the law of the land.

NancyP

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