· Naughties
· · 2005
· · · September
· · · · 14 (1 entry)

No Religious Courts · On­tar­i­o, the province in the mid­dle of Cana­da that’s the biggest and rich­est, was com­ing un­der pres­sure from Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty ac­tivists to al­low “voluntary” use of re­li­gious tri­bunals in civ­il family-law cas­es. There are a cou­ple of ob­vi­ous prob­lems with this. First, some as­pects of Mus­lim re­li­gious law are pro­found­ly in­com­pat­i­ble with mod­ern Cana­di­an val­ues, which tend to re­gard wom­en as per­sons more or less equiv­a­len­t, legal­ly, to per­sons who are not wom­en. Another prob­lem is that the Mus­lim world does not ex­act­ly have con­sen­sus on ex­act­ly what Sharia law says, let alone what it mean­s. On the oth­er side, there were two ar­gu­ments, one bad and one plau­si­ble. The bad ar­gu­ment was that the choice of re­li­gious courts was “voluntary”. I put the word in quotes for a rea­son; to an op­pressed wom­en in the grips of a semi-closed im­mi­grant cul­ture, the right to opt out of Sharia would be the­o­ret­i­cal at best. The sec­ond ar­gu­ment is that it turns out that On­tario ap­par­ent­ly al­ready al­lowed Jews and Catholics to opt for re­li­gious tri­bunal­s, and giv­en that, it’s re­al­ly tough to say “no” to the Mus­lim­s. In a re­fresh­ing out­burst of san­i­ty and fair­ness, the On­tario gov­ern­ment sim­ply banned all re­li­gious tri­bunals. I can’t imag­ine any­thing more sen­si­ble; if liv­ing in a civ­i­lized so­ci­ety means any­thing, sure­ly it means one rule­book for ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of which God they be­lieve in. Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, at least some of the Jews and Catholics are ir­ri­tat­ed. They get no sym­pa­thy from me, and good on the McGuin­ty gov­ern­men­t. [Up­date: in­formed follow-up from Rob.]
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