At Queen’s Park
Concerning Bill 27
On Monday, January 16th, 2006
Good morning I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to address this hearing on Bill 27.
My name is Homa Arjomand and I am the Coordinator
of the International Campaign Against Sharia Court in
I am very pleased to appear at this hearing and to comment on some of the proposed amendments to the Arbitration Act of 1991, the Child and Family Services Act, the Family Law Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act.
speech I will give you some background information about myself and my work,
why and how my fellow activists and I organized the opposition to faith-based
Prior to my
The rise of
Political Islam pushed back the women’s liberation movement in
power of political Islam grew in
My husband and I, along with our two children, one was an infant, were forced to flee Iran by horseback to Turkey in the winter of 1989, there, I worked for the United Nations and witnessed even more of what political Islam did to women and Human’s rights activists in the Middle East.
Discrimination and gender-based persecution in areas
of marriage, divorce, Child custody and so on are in
fact reasons why many women flee the societies which are ruled by Political
Islam and seek refuge in
We too came
past 12 years I have worked as a transitional counselor for abused women in
In my work I often see the unfair treatment of women and children when they use faith-based arbitration. Most of these women receive very little in the way of financial support and often have no right to see their children. Sometimes after a divorce, the father will send his children particularly the girls back to his home country to be raised by a family member and then push them to marry at a very young age even though they are Canadian Citizens.
A Summary of the Campaign
On October 23rd, 2003, Mr. Syed Mumtaz Ali, President of the Canadian Society of Muslims announced the opening of the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice. In his announcement, Mr. Ali said that to be a ‘good Muslim’, you must use Sharia law for family legal matters. This political statement was not only coercive but also a direct threat to devout Muslims who prefer to use Canadian laws.
statement shocked me because his proposal had nothing to do with someone’s
personal belief; it was in fact … very political. He claimed his legal
authority was based on
At the time
I did not believe that
All of us were
motivated by a common concern that political Islam was trying to expand in
We decided to take action and our purpose was to assure there was one law for all and that law should be the Family Law Act of Ontario.
campaign started in
movements to end the use of Sharia law exist in other
countries such as
Recently some of the honorable members here have said that there was little or no public debate on the issue of faith-based arbitration. I find this claim surprising since our campaign was a very public effort and Ms. Boyd’s inquiry consulted a broad spectrum of the concerned public and the faith communities. We all had a fair chance to make our views known to the government and to the press.
Our campaign supporters wrote and called their Members of Parliament, they organized hundreds of public protests and meetings, handed out flyers, conducted polls, issued press releases and participated in debates across the country including a few at the University of Toronto.
Quite often I debated with activists from the Muslim and Jewish communities who were in favour of faith-based arbitrations. These events were well attended by the public and were widely reported in the Canadian and international press.
My colleagues and I, as well as our opponents were interviewed by the press on a regular basis. On average I personally responded to at least a dozen interviews each week from Canadian and international journalists. Some of the news agencies that interviewed me were CBC, CTV, OMNI, TVO, BBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail etc.
2005, we conducted a poll in
August we brought Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali to
28,000 people are on our email list, 12,000 of them are from
Our Views on Some of the Amendments
my fellow activists and I are pleased with the proposed amendments.
I will comment on some of them now…
Ø establish training and professional standards for arbitrators
Ø establish effective, accurate, full and prompt reporting methods
Ø enable arbitrators to conduct family arbitrations in a timely manner
Ø define the accountability of the arbitrators
Ø provide an opportunity to review an arbitrator’s performance on a regular basis and if needed withdraw an arbitrator’s official approval
conclude my speech by saying, the politically diverse members of our campaign, all
the people who came to
We believe this Bill will end the interference of religion in our justice system and it will empower battered immigrant women, give security to our children and will protect “equal rights for all”, regardless of race, religion, gender of ethnic background.