Calgary SUN -In the name of the law Collision inevitable between Sharia court and Canadian court
By EZRA LEVANT -- Calgary Sun Ontario will soon have Canada's first Sharia court. That is, a court where legal disputes are judged by Muslim imams according to the law of the Koran. As its proponents describe it, the Sharia court will be a voluntary, private court. Non-Muslims, and Muslims who prefer Queen Elizabeth's laws to Mohammed's, can still go to regular courts instead. But there is a new wrinkle. According to the Law Times newspaper, Ontario's Arbitration Act will apply to the Sharia court's judgments. Once the Sharia court issues a decision, it will be legally binding upon those who appeared before it. The Sharia court's decision will be enforced by the secular government of Ontario. There are reasons to support such a system. The way it is described by its boosters, the Sharia court would deal primarily with business matters -- presumably, criminal cases would still be decided in government courts according to Canadian law. But if two Muslim businessmen agree to settle a private business dispute according to the Koran's rules, why not let them do so? Such a localized, privatized, personalized approach to justice should appeal to libertarians -- and to anyone else frustrated by the pace or cost of the public court system. The fact that these Sharia judgments can later be enforced by Ontario's courts is not, by itself, alarming. Canadians already have the power to voluntarily bind each other with rules of their own making, even strange rules, and have a court enforce them. It's called a contract. But there are reasons to be wary of this Sharia court -- or what it might evolve into. Because Sharia law does not just apply to business disputes; it also applies to divorce law, to criminal law and to laws of sexual purity and honour. Like the Bible, the Koran governs every aspect of life. For example, the Koran has laws about inheritance. According to Sura (verse) 4:11, "Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females." So girls only get half of what boys do. Will the Sharia courts be allowed to make rulings about wills and estates? The Koran has laws for husbands who suspect -- merely suspect -- their wives of infidelity. Sura 4:34 reads "those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them." Will the Sharia court deal with family law issues? Will the Sharia court be granted jurisdiction over criminal matters? There is already a Canadian precedent for this in Native "sentencing circles" -- where judges are replaced by Native "elders." If the Sharia court acquires the same jurisdiction, crooks should watch out. According to Sura 5:33 of the Koran, criminals "should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned." Of course, the Bible is full of fearsome language, too -- including capital punishment for sexual offences. But it has been centuries since any Christian religious court carried out such injunctions literally, and millennia since a Jewish court did. Today, our law is positively anti-Christian, from the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Mississippi court house to the conviction of Mark Harding, an Ontario evangelist, for "hate crimes" -- because he criticized Islam. Devout Muslims -- such as the Sharia court's imams -- do not pick and choose from the Koran. They believe in it all. What do you think will happen -- who do you think will yield -- when the Sharia court inevitably collides with Canadian courts that increasingly believe in nothing?