Tag Archives: Sharia Law

Lejla Kurić Rebuts Mo Ansar On Women and Islam

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Regular readers will remember I covered Lejla Kurić’s post on Mo Ansar and Islamic extremism in Bangladesh and that she very kindly allowed me to use her illustration of Malala in my first Huffington Post piece on Assed Baig’s Skin Deep Analysis of the West and Malala.

Lejla has written her response to Mo Ansar’s interview on “Isn’t Islam Anti-Women?

Ansar arguably exaggerates the importance of Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, and claims that she has been smeared as a “child bride” by those hostile to Islam. He omits to mention that this is also what Islamic scripture, the Hadith, states and that, consequently, it is what many Muslims believe to be true. Ansar’s opinion may or may not have a historical basis but it goes completely against Islamic orthodoxy, which elsewhere he tries to persuade us is the way forward.

On Ansar’s idealised view of Sharia under the Ottoman Empire:

In the Ottoman Empire, Sharia Law governed uniquely Muslim affairs, and any disputes involving a Muslim party were therefore under the jurisdiction of the Sharia courts. Christians and Jews had similar autonomy in their communities. Qanun was legislation enacted by the Sultan, addressing matters not covered by Sharia, mainly relating to the functioning of state institutions. Furthermore, it was drafted by the Sultan’s private secretary, an Islamic scholar, to ensure there would be no conflict between Qanun & Sharia.

How describing Mo Ansar as a feminist leaves a bad taste in the mouth of Muslim feminists:

Feminism is a progressive movement of solidarity and ideas, which fights for the rights and opportunities women are denied for no other reason than that they are women. Ansar, meanwhile, is a religious traditionalist, and religious traditionalists are by their very nature reactionary. He denigrates the struggle for female emancipation and equality and yearns instead for a return to what he pretentiously calls “traditional models of male-female interplay”. That of course is his right in a democracy. But his views have no place in feminism and there is no reason why they should excite any attention whatsoever.

Do read the full post published today here.

You can read my earlier reply to Mo’s interview “Islam and Women” here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Islam and Women

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Vicky Beeching interviewed Mo Ansar on Isn’t Islam Anti-Women. I expected some tough questioning. For example about acid attacks on women, the “honour” killing of women, the status of women as sharia is practised in Islamic theocracy now, that dress codes are designed to reflect an Islamic manner rather than their own female or personal identity. How rape victims are treated in the judicial system in theocratic Islamic states, and adulterers. Not being able to hold public office or needing a chaperone to be in public – might just have cropped up in such a discussion.

Perhaps the experiences of women going to sharia councils in the UK or the recent documentary by Panorama. The disgraceful attack on defenceless baby girls that FGM is here and abroad.

The answer is that would be a big no. This was a cosy coffee morning interview praising faith rather than a Paxman well done late night grilling. We all have our styles, but not asking a single question on the issues above was an insult to the feminism part of the “Faith in Feminism” site.

Surely for Mo a grilled breakfast would have fitted his appetite for debate:

MA: Yes. It’s quite astounding that the religion which has at its centre a woman such as Aisha, an entire chapter of the Quran called the women and another dedicated to the mother of Christ; should now stand in the dock accused of the worst manifestations of misogyny and abuse towards women. It is a charge which needs to be refuted and with some vigour.

So Mo, in the absence of being asked why those terrible things are happening in Islamic countries to women if religion promotes feminism, here was his most vigorous refutation to a general claim of misogyny:

MA: The shocking truth is that to judge Islam by the worst conditions for Muslim women around the developing world is to create an ugly caricature, one which denies the geo-political machinations behind events and the balkanisation of women’s rights in these lands. The truer picture is that which we see when the rivers or confidence, empowerment, education, peace and prosperity flow together. We can only ask that the world looks towards Yemeni feminist Nobel prize winners like Tawakul Karman, as the real face and voice of a modern, politically engaged and socially astute Islam, rather than those with a Talibanised view of education and equality; it is a hard and closed thinking which wanders around in the shadows beyond the light of Islam. In truth, we may even find that a modern, enlightened Islam has much to offer a West which today, still struggles to find the right settlement for those balancing influences of sexuality, equality and feminism.

What version of enlightened Islam does Mo have in mind for us to judge? Here are some of his words on.

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So in this enlightened Islam women should be prepared to be segregated from men whether formally or informally, that women should be dressed modestly – so forget about that party dress because being sexy is pornographic, and mothers the prophet is above your children in status so remember that if they ever become apostates or make a joke that someone overhears insulting the prophet – free speech to insult is not an option.

This is not even an ugly caricature but going by the words of Mo himself. His Islam tells you how to dress on waking, how to socialise, how to speak when you do, who to sleep with when you go to bed and that you had better satisfy each other if married before sleeping. Enlightened is not a word I would use, let alone feministic, to describe this.

Plus we still have this unresolved issue of email advice given by Mo Ansar to a woman suffering an abusive relationship. The only person whose confidentially needs protecting wants to wave it to publish the correspondence – Mo has said no.

The empowerment of women is the key thing to social change – it is an affront to history and the modern situation of women in Islamic countries to suggest that Islam has answered. The advantages for women in secular democratic countries are hard won – and women did it wearing whatever they liked and acted as brazenly as necessary to promote feminism. Women are not inferior – this needs to be clearly understood when your enlightened islam is a woman’s gaze to be lowered in modesty.

Women are being held back by islamic theocracy. It is being challenged by secular, politically astute Muslim women and non Muslim women – at considerable risk from Islamists. The rights of women are not derived by religious scribes – these rights are theirs if only they are not hindered, threatened or cajoled to be less than they truly are. Tawakul Karman survived an attempted assassination by someone wielding symbolically a traditional dagger – the weapon reflecting Karman rejecting Yemeni values of women being subjected to inferior status.

Her would be assassin wanting to kill her for practising “politically engaged and socially astute Islam” was a woman.

In the developing world give women access to birth control, education, health care, the ability to manage finances even borrow for investment, and a say in how the community is run. Let them get on with it. The results are proven when you do. Yet we also need a revolution in thinking too. Educated independent secular women will not need to listen to Mo or me.

It is noticeable that support for sharia by Muslims in Europe is a significant minority (18%) according to Pew Research. Compare that to the Middle East and North Africa (74%).

Release women from the tribal, cultural and religious shackles of seventh century thinking and designated roles so they can get on with much needed change. Mullahs, Taliban, elders and other misogynistic pricks are in the way and religion is the excuse they use.

I would also beware anyone who is for segregation of men and women, and calling for women to be modest, being enlightened about anything. For seen in the true light of the real enlightenment such people are shadow puppets to real rights for women.

Follow on Blog: Please Mo Answer – questions by historians Llewelyn Morgan and Tom Holland

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Video: Panorama “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils”

The BBC flagship current affairs documentary Panorama revealed in April 2013 what the secularist community had long feared. That access to legal address from marriage, child custody and even domestic violence was being undermined by the Sharia Councils. That it encouraged the flouting of court judgements in place to protect victims.

A memory stirred today that these fears were first mentioned on this blog in 2008 when criticising the Archbishop of Canterbury’s public support for Sharia Law to exist alongside secular law.

That blog examining the collusion of the Church of England with Sharia Law can be read here.

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One quote to see in light of the above documentary:

[Archbishop Williams]: “The problem here is that recognising the authority of a communal religious court to decide finally and authoritatively about such a question would in effect not merely allow an additional layer of legal routes for resolving conflicts and ordering behaviour but would actually deprive members of the minority community of rights and liberties that they were entitled to enjoy as citizens; and while a legal system might properly admit structures or protocols that embody the diversity of moral reasoning in a plural society by allowing scope for a minority group to administer its affairs according to its own convictions, it can hardly admit or ‘license’ protocols that effectively take away the rights it acknowledges as generally valid.”

The answer is simple my Lord Bishop – do not give religious law legal force. There is a reason why the law book of England is not the Bible. The law has developed based on tradition, culture, legal practise and Parliamentary Democracy within a liberal pluralist political system. Because a sub group feel passionate in their way of living does not make them a special case when it comes to temporal matters.His answer however is that the believer would have the right of appeal based on secular rights – that the jurisdiction of British law would trump Sharia law. The question then becomes why give legal weight to Sharia Law which under certain circumstances could be superseded? It becomes not only a recipe for conflict and legal wrangling but is ceding the rule of law to a religious body. It is a step back to the dark ages.

Rather than helping believers and none to live together in harmony this is something that would if enacted like Williams suggests tear the nation apart. The rule of law would not apply equally. Under what circumstances would someone accept less than their full rights that secular law gives them? Do we imagine such circumstances are done out of respect for the law of Allah, or fear of the community that they live in? What Williams promotes for harden the lines that already separate towns and cities across this nation. Many Muslims are in this country because their descendants were secularists fleeing the cruel imposition of religious law. He may not be advocating it, but the principle is the same – the law of the land applies to one and all, and is not based on supposed divine text and bodies with authority to interpret the mind of God.

Please support the One Law for All Campaign

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Woolas: End is nigh for the Church of England

Phill Woolas, Immigration Minister, saying how it is

Phill Woolas, Immigration Minister, saying how it is

Well, if you mean 50 years, Woolas commented:

“Disestablishment – I think it will happen because it’s the way things are going. Once you open debate about reform of the House of Lords you open up debate about the make-up of the House,” he told the newspaper.”

“It will probably take 50 years, but a modern society is multi faith.”

So who is in the way of allowing people to choose their faith or none without the state privledging one over another?

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “The Church of England is by law established as the Church in England and the Monarch is its Supreme Governor.

“The government remains committed to this position and values the establishment of the Church of England.” [BBC]

Woolas’ point – which along with a Sunday Times interview have come to haunt him in his new role as Immigration Minister – was that reform of the House of Lords was needed. Once that happens you cannot ignore the unelected Bishops of the Church of England there. Nor the role the monarch plays as head of an established church to which the majority of subjects are not actively a part of.

The reason why this is not a government priority:

The Government has reassured the Church of England that it will not embark on any move towards disestablishment unless the Church asks it to do so. With the Church bogged down in disputes over gays and women clergy, the last thing that it wants is a row over disestablishment. In Lambeth Palace and Whitehall the issue is considered political dynamite. [The Times]

It has the hallmarks of passions being stirred on all sides of the debate. The thing is that the best arguments are not on Lambeth or Westminster’s side. Citizens should be free to pursue their religious belief without having one privileged over another. The question of belief is an entirely a private matter. You do not have to believe in hell to be a member of the Church of England. That is not a question of belief but a matter of law on the statute book by parliament.

There is however a danger that rather than going ahead with disestablishment, the Labour Government will actually try to have religion encouraged in the public sphere. Sharia Law is already being practised for civil cases via Sharia Councils in Britain:

The councils do not involve themselves in criminal law or any aspects of civil law in which they would be in direct conflict with British civil codes. The vast majority of their cases cover marriage and divorce. By consent of all parties, they may also arbitrate issues of property, child custody, housing and employment disputes, though their rulings are not binding unless submitted to the civilian courts. [source]

The issue here is the nature of the consent by all parties, and whether all parties know about access to British civil codes and how to abject. This really must be stressed when you consider the number of women that may be subjected to Sharia Councils who do not speak English. By what token are we assured that they know their rights under English law?

Meanwhile the report Moral, But No Compass, backed by the Church of England suggestion is to have a Minister for Religion. As if 26 Bishops in the House of Lords was not enough representation. As one blogger commented:

the moment this minister sets foot in a church, the Muslims would demand visits to their mosques with increasingly-taller minarets, and then the Sikhs would want a visit to their shining new gurdwaras, and thence to mandirs, and viharas. And at some point the minister would have to make statements in the House about the status of Scientology, and feel obliged to celebrate Yoda’s birthday at the House of Commons with the Jedi Knight fraternity, if only to win their endorsement and votes. [Cranmer]

Hopefully the Conservative Humanist Association can ensure that the Minister for Religion idea is not one adopted as Conservative Policy – though it could be a move to gather back Anglicans feeling slighted by the Labour Government. Despite the fact that this government is very much in favour of faith based initiatives – signalling them out for special praise in the Goldsmith report.

The real reason is that the government sees the whole issue as a Gordian Knot where the monarchy, Church of England and House of Lords all intertwine. To sever one is to unravel them all, in a way that the government fears it could not control. A church that would be free to be political, rather than just a public servant. An elected head of state with executive power independent of the Cabinet. An elected House of Lords with legitimacy to take on the lower chamber more often.

It could also be one of those things that power is only ever given away when it is expedient too or the institution that has it cares not to have such exercise of authority. The political problem though remains. The issue is one that has to be advanced on a human rights front. The state cannot effectively favour all religions, nor should it use taxpayers money to privilege one over the other. Giving religious civil courts sanction to make rulings over citizens is a breach that all are the same under the law where legally unqualified people will render verdicts based on their interpretation of holy texts – which do not favour the equal treatment of people regardless of gender, and have a notion of property rights inconsistent with moder law.

The feminists should be burning Korans, and the government should be having an almighty headache over the dalliance with organised religion. Right now it bears the harlot upon it’s back – when will the beast shake itself free of the rider that feels secure debauched on the legitimacy of their union on the statue books? Some may say it would mark the end of the world, a new world order (a book on Revelation interpretations would be how many volumes?). What it should mean is the sovereignty of belief resides in the private minds of the citizens, and not a matter of the government who should protect the freedom of religion and speech by advocating those human rights values, rather than religion being able take them away and make them their own, with the complicit government allowing it’s citizens to be unequally treated in civil cases.

OTHER BLOGS:

Secularism – why it is good for us all

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Council of Ex Muslims of Britain video of Conference

The conference itself was good to attend. It is a mark of our secular attitudes that the thought of killing someone for renouncing their religion would be appalling to most of us – a denial of human rights and the freedom and autonomy of people to think things for themselves.

The videos themselves can be found here, the previous blog includes Richard Dawkins at the conference. Below the comedy moment from Nick Doody. Talking about his act:

Reviewers have described my material on Islam as both “easy” and “brave”, apparently depending on whether they were offended or not. In reality, it’s neither. Easy would be writing jokes from a knee-jerk position, pandering to the racists.

Brave would be doing my act in Tehran.

You can see my laughing my head off at the pint of Stella in a crisis at 14:08 (black shirt and glasses).

OTHER BLOGS:

International Conference Council of Ex Muslims of Britain (CEMB)

Richard Dawkins on the Atlas of Creation

Teddy Bears what is in a name? A picnic outside an Embassy

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