July 21, 2004

Homa Arjomand

homawpi@rogers.com

416-737-9500 

 Report of Meeting with Marion Boyd Regarding Shari’a Court in Canada

On Thursday July 15, 2004, Homa Arjomand, Co-ordinator of the International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada was called to a meeting with Marion Boyd regarding concerns about Shari’a court in Canada. Marian Boyd has been appointed by Premier Dalton McGuinty to review the 1991 Arbitration Act

This meeting lasted over three hours and many issues and case studies were presented:

 

Homa Arjomand emphasized the fact that The Ontario Arbitration Act 1991 has made it possible for the Islamic movement to make another attempt to attack both secularism and the women’s movement for equality. She stated that this move has proven, historically, to be a major force in creating serious setbacks to the lives of women.  Arjomand also stated that the key features of this move include opposition to the freedom of women, opposition to women’s civil liberties and opposition to freedom of expression.

 

Mrs Arjomand, by presenting some case studies, demonstrated that due to social pressure and the strict adherence to role and obligation imposed on women by Shari’a, battered women coming from so called Islamic countries remain in abusive relationships even in Canada. The government not only has done nothing to help these battered women come out of unbearable situations but now has also created another tool of oppression in Ontario.

 

Now, using the Ontario Arbitration Act 1991, which allows family disputes to be resolved by arbitrators who are Imams or elderly scholars of Islam, family matters can be resolved according to Shari’a law.  Ms. Arjomand explained the consequences of allowing Shari’a arbitrators to handle family disputes. She listed some of the direct violations of social, political and civil rights that will result from the application of Shari’a law through the Arbitration Act.  Once more, she stated that family law must be removed from this Act.  The mere suggestion of Islamic cultural or religious tribunals has already generated an atmosphere of fear among Muslim women.

  

 Ms. Arjomand finally drew attention to the fact that, in Canada, we uphold the separation of church and state, which means that there should be no religious determination in the laws that are applied through the courts.  To ensure this, it is essential that all aspects of family law be removal from the Ontario Arbitration act 1991.  Our campaign will not settle for less and we will not allow a shallow concept of “religion freedom” to translate into the bondage of thousands of women in Canada.

 

Mrs. Boyd stated that she is willing to meet with 35 other members of this campaign on August 3rd, 2004 at 9: 30 AM.

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