Ontario will not become the first Western jurisdiction to allow the use of a set of centuries-old religious rules called Shariah law to settle Muslim family disputes... the premier of the province, Dalton McGuinty, said Sunday.As you will recall, last week we asked,
quite simply, how can Ontario deny Muslims their courts -- while allowing Jewish Batei Din? This [motion to allow sharia law] may not have any direct effect on us, yet (perhaps the result will simply be that they will be forced to allow Sharia courts), however there is no question that this link will at some point work to our disadvantage.Well, we got it half right, because the bad news is that
In a telephone interview with The Canadian Press, the national news agency, Mr. McGuinty announced that his government would move quickly to outlaw existing religious tribunals used for years by Christians and Jews under Ontario's Arbitration Act.A representative from the Canadian Jewish Congress said the organization was "stunned." From this distance, I really don't know to what extent they saw this coming, if at all (were they taken in by reassurances that the government was not intending to change existing arrangements?), and what they were doing to prevent exactly this scenario from unfolding. I'm not even sure what they could have done -- they were always between a rock and a hard place, as ultimately, whether they could see it or not, it was always going to come down to all or nothing (and indeed, presumably with this in mind, B'nai B'rith came out in support of Sharia courts -- a problematic stance for anyone who believes that Sharia law is one of a number of causes being pushed or used by Muslim extremists who are deliberately trying to politicize Islam in the West, a threat to our whole society). I'm sure we'll get more background / commentary in due course from our Canadian correspondent.
"There will be no Shariah law in Ontario," he said. "There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians."
In any case, the question in my mind is, in how many countries, particularly in Europe, is this scenario going to be repeated? For what's to stop Muslims elsewhere from floating the idea of Sharia courts? They clearly have nothing to lose -- only others do.