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Speech of Homa Arjomand in Vancouver and update on the Campaign against Sharia court in Canada

Speech of Homa Arjomand in Vancouver and update on the Campaign against Sharia court in Canada

Nov 20, 2004

It is a pleasure to be able to be among you today. In today’s speech I would like to focus on two areas. First the obstacles women face to achieve equality. Then update you with the International Campaign Against Shari'a Court by emphasizing the urgency of achieving the separation of religion from the Canadian justice system and the practical steps that should be taken to achieve this.

In the past decades we witnessed the growth of cultural relativism and multi-culturalism sensitivities. Multi-culturalism has become another tool to increase the marginalization and ghettoization of immigrant communities. Culture and religion have become a primary issue dictating people's lives. Culture became more important than equality, more important than the rights of the individual, more important than women's rights and children's rights. The policy of Multiculturalism has provided religions with many opportunities to impose their own rules on a specific community within the greater society. Multiculturalism promotes tolerance and respect for so-called minority opinions and beliefs, instead of promoting the respect of the rights of those individuals of that community.

It is not surprising to find that, in a Canada, a country that actively infamous, doctrine, the argument of minority versus individual rights has been put forward by the initiators of Sharia court in Canada, who claim that minority rights require the installation of a Sharia court.

The International Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada opposes the implementation of shariah court in Canada. As we strongly believe that the interference of religion in justice system will subject women to various forms of abuse and daily degradation. It will increase intimidation and threats against innumerable women, and it will open the way for future suppression.

To prevent the interference of religion in justice system this campaign decided to inform the public by putting a petition online. We clearly explained the purpose of this reactionary move and its effect on women. We claimed several secular demands and called on all progressive organizations, defenders of women’s rights and concern individuals to join our campaign. Right from beginning, our aim was to motivate the progressive and secular movement which is already present in our society and convert it to a strong force for pushing back this reactionary move.

Unfortunately, this move, in areas of social and cultural has not being opposed by a progressive force to prevent it from growing, instead was encouraged to persuade its repressive measures against women. We were also facing groups and individuals who are defender of human rights and women’s equality but were afraid to make a stand against this recent reactionary move because of being called resists or anti Muslims. The above barriers made it difficult for our campaign at first but soon we overcame the barriers. Since we who came from the country so called “Islamic”, had secular demands and defended women’s rights, people started to hear us, and their support became more significant.

We emphasized on our “petition online” for religion to be declared private affair of the individual and demanded for complete separation of religion from state and justice system.

Right from beginning several organizations, concern individual women’s rights activists have joined our campaign. Right now, the petition against Shari’a court in Canada has been signed by more than 7000 and many admired our courage in this issue. Since the begging of campaign, our activists have been interviewed by mainstream media on daily bases globally. We have attended many panel discussions at various universities and tv programs in this regard. 400-500 people visit our web site daily (just for your information our website is We also receive 150-170 e-mails a day.

To mobilize people not only in Ontario and across Canada but also globally, we ran educational panel with well-known women activists from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Canada on March 7, 2004.

Among other activities we ran several public meetings, called for press conferences. We also called for the international demonstration, England, France, Germany, Sweden, Holland and Canada participated in the demonstration.

We also met the ministries in charge. On March 18, 2004 we met John Gregory, the Crown Counsel, Ministry of attorney General, On April 20, 2004 we met with Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. Our meeting with ministries in charge and the activists’ pushed the premier, McGuinty to request two of his ministers to review the proposed application of Sharia and the Arbitration Act 1991.

On July 15, 2004, Mrs Marian Boyd, requested to meet me individually for three hours. She has been appointed by Premier Dalton McGuinty to review the 1991 Arbitration Act.

Mrs Boyd then met 35 members of the campaign on July 21, 2004.

To remove family law from Ontario Arbitration Act 1991 we adapted “the Resolution number 01-11-04”. This resolution was adapted by the members of the campaign in November first, 2004. I encourage all individuals and all progressive organizations and defender of universal right for women, adapt this resolution.

On December 20, 2004, three days before Holiday sessions Mrs. Boyd announced her Recommendation through government’s website

I am very confident that the above-mentioned actions will draw attention to the urgent need for total equality of the sexes, to secularism, and towards the establishment of a society where all people are free and equal regardless of gender, race, nationality, or country of origin.

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