Mohsen Ebrahimi


Islamic Courts in Canada!

(A political Challenge on a Global Scale)


On October 21st 2003, in a meeting held in Toronto, delegates from the Islamic groups active in North America elected a 30-member council with the mandate of establishing a Darul-Qada (Chamber of Judgment) to be known as “Islamic Institute of Civil Justice”. The Islamist leaders claimed that with the establishment of these Islamic tribunals, the issues of  around “one million Muslims in Canada”, such as marriage, divorce and so forth will be resolved according to the Islamic set of rules known as Shari’a law.


“One million Muslim; a bogus statistic at the service of a reactionary, tribal cause


Let’s assume for a moment, “one million Muslim” in Canada is not a bogus statistic. Does this justify, in any way, the necessity of Islamic tribunals in Canada? No, it doesn’t. The Islamic tribunals must be stopped, not because of the number of citizens they can deprive from enjoying the existing secular civil laws, but because they are the tools of Shari’a laws - set of anti-human, patriarchal code of conducts dating from 1,400 years ago, because Islamic tribunals with their Shari laws are in vivid conflict with secular institutions; because they are against the welfare of individuals; because they are a threat to secular values.


Bearing this in mind, the majority of this so called “one million Muslims” in Canada are those who have been at the forefront of struggle against Islamic states, Islamic tribunals, and Islamic laws. Many of them have been direct victims of political Islam prior to coming to Canada. Many of them have fled the very Islamic laws and Islamic tribunals existing in the countries they have left behind.


If the Islamic tribunals are noting but the incarnation of social and judicial harassment for many of “one million Muslims”, then who will be affected by these Islamic tribunals? The primary potential victims will be women and children in Muslim families, surrounded with a backward, patriarchal and authoritarian environment. Under moral, traditional and religious pressure by male heads of families, they can easily fall into the hands of these tribunals.


Islamic Tribunals vs. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom!


Article 15 of Canadian charter of rights and Freedom proclaims:

“15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”


With the Islamic tribunals in effect, “equal protection and equal benefit of the law” is taken away from individuals – first and foremost women and  children - who are vulnerable to the pressures of Muslim heads of their families. They are denied the same rights and protections of secular laws other citizens are already enjoying.  This is noting but discrimination against a part of society based on religion.


In contrast, and in so far as women are concerned, Sura Women, Aye 34 and 35 of Koran clearly states:


“35. If ye fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation: For Allah hath full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things.”

With the Islamic tribunals in effect, women who are abused by men will be left at the hands of Sheikhs and will be forced back to the same abusive environment.  


However, the consequences of setting up Islamic tribunals ripple out much wider than the immediate victims of these institutions. The secular values and institutions are in jeopardy. If the law and judicial system are the two pillars of a secular society, then what is at peril here, with the incorporation of Islamic laws and tribunals into the body of secular laws and judicial system, is the very foundation of secularism, that is, the separation of state from religious establishments.


Furthermore, Islamists will not limit their attempts to Islamic tribunals. They will use them as launching pads for more and more violations of secular values. Hence, it is vital to stop them right here and now.


Cultural Relativism; Rights of Cultures vs. Rights of Individuals


Cultural relativism has been widely used in recent years to undermine the universality of the rights of individuals: individuals from different cultures have different rights! Culture comes first, right comes second! Culture is, as if divinely, forbidden to be touched. People’s rights, however, are worldly not allowed to touch sacred cultures! Culture must be respected; rights can be ignored! Cultures are relative; rights are, therefore, relative and non-universal! 


There was no need to dwell on cultural relativism if it was only an academic concept. But, real lives of real humans are involved here. Real violations of rights, real suffering, and real agony have been, and continue to be, justified by cultural relativism. According to multi-culturalism, based on cultural relativism, the women born in Iran, Afghanistan or Nigeria are “culturally” different from women born in France, Britain or Canada. Hence, they should be covered by different set of laws! Cultural rights of Muslims are the most widely used tool in the hands of Islamists to justify Islamic tribunals.


In recent years, horrific crimes have been committed against women from Islamic-stricken countries in Europe and Scandinavian countries under the astounding indifference on the part of their governments, justified by cultural relativism.


Fatima, Pila and Hsehu are just the most recent victims who were murdered in cold blood in Sweden and England. Who killed them? Male members of their families. Why did they kill them? To pay their respect to god! They simply carried out their Islamic responsibilities! They honored their Islamic culture! They did not commit “crime”, they committed “honor killing”! Were they protected by “secular” authorities? No! Why? Because these were supposedly cultural/family matters. And culture is untouchable! 

When Fadima Sahindal told police in Sweden her life had been threatened, when she approached politicians for help, when she did everything to escape a death threat by her father after she refused an arranged marriage, she was simply and shamelessly advised “to make peace with her parents”!  

Sixteen-year-old Hsehu Yones was stabbed to death at her home on October 12, 2002, for having a Christian boyfriend. Fearing his daughter was becoming westernized, Abdullah Yones said he acted to "redeem" his family name. Hsehu’s death was one among 12 "honor killings" in UK only in a span of one year, according to Scotland Yard.

It took long time and hard fight for organizations like Never Forget Fiatma and Pila in Sweden and Never Forget Hsehu in the UK to bring these critical issues to the center of attention. Still many young girls - potential victims of “honor killing” - are not seriously protected by the authorities in Europe.


Despite these atrocities, the vigilant advocates of cultural relativism are still muttering in favor of the rights of different cultures, of the sanctity of cultural relativism. Aren’t you amazed of the disgusting scale of senseless stupidity here?


Cultural relativism has been and is still being used as a pretext to turn a blind eye on atrocities committed against individuals – basically women. Cultural relativism provides safe and free atmosphere for Islamic thugs to freely abuse women’s rights. Cultural relativism provides safe haven in modern societies for backward Islamists. Cultural relativism is a post-modern dark shield hiding Islamic anachronism.  


A political challenge on a global scale


The struggle to launch Islamic tribunals in Canada, like similar efforts to force Hijab in public institutions in France, is not merely a cultural effort to pursue cultural rights. Both the aims of and the forces behind these efforts are political. These attempts are part and parcel of one of the most reactionary global phenomena of the recent history, i.e., the movement of political Islam.


Islamist circles in Paris, London and Toronto are the extensions of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Taliban and Mojahedin in Afghanistan, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and plenty of other Islamic groups in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and other parts of the world. This monster has plenty of heads and tails. The big head is the Islamic republic of Iran that has savagely ruled for 25 years and is now being challenged by a huge secular movement by the people of Iran. Ironically, while the head is being smashed in its stronghold by a secular movement, the tails is challenging the secular values in the West. The head is being attacked in Iran by secular movement; the tails is attacking secularism in Paris, London and Toronto.


What is going on here? How is this possible? It may look a bit complicated, but some answers are rooted in the horror of September 11 and its political aftermath.


1- Immediately after the massacre of more than 3000 people by Islamic terrorists on September 11, old friends, the USA and the Islamist movement became new foes. A bloody duel began between two long-time friends, the state terrorism of the USA and the Islamic movement. The state terrorism of the USA needed a fresh “great Satan” to replace the recently collapsed Soviet Union which served as long lasting Satan during the Cold War. With the horror of September 11, Islamic terrorism became the most fitting alternative to play this role.


But, the strategists of New World Order were wise enough not to put all their eggs in one box. Political Islam is consciously divided into Islamic fundamentalists, Islamic terrorists, as opposed to moderate Islam. Smash Islamic terrorism and cozy up with moderate Islam. Islamic terrorism was used as a dangerous Satan to justify American militarism and moderate Islam was still kept as a potential force against the left movement in other parts of the world. No wonder how George Bush, Jack Straw, and Shruder began to compete with grand Ayatollahs of Islam in interpretation of Koran and Islamic teachings.


In the eyes of western states, and in fact with the help of them, Islamic movement can now operate in a new, moderate and modern disguise: moderate Islam! And they did so. Plenty of clerics in the West suddenly became the vigilant advocates of moderate Islam! They are not terrorists; they are “moderate” fighters against secular values in the West. They are not terrorists; they are “moderate” advocates of institutionalization of Hijab – the symbol of women’s inferiority in Islamic culture and Islamic politics – in France! They are not terrorists; they are “moderate” advocates of establishing Islamic courts in Canada! They are “moderate” forces of religious values against secular values.


2. In the aftermath of September 11, racist groups got momentum against citizens categorized as Muslims. They failed because the people in the West rightly did not want to be labeled as the supporters of this organized racist reaction. Inversely and rightly, they defended the rights of every citizen, regardless of religion, race, color, gender and nationality.


While this attitude attracted the respect of ordinary people, the Islamic groups were ready to hypocritically take advantage of this progressive atmosphere. They used it to promote their politico-religious causes. They began to present themselves as “oppressed” representatives of oppressed minority. People in the west were for the rights of citizens to live in secure environment; Islamic groups used it to promote Islamic values to undermine the rights of the same citizens.


Final Point


While in their stronghold, the ground is progressively shaking under the Islamic movement by secular movements, in the West, the Islamic movement is attempting to shake the long established secular values. It is struggling to win in the West what it is already losing in Islam-stricken countries.


Both the strong movement against Islamic Republic in Iran and the strong turnout in France in favor of banning Hijab in public places are indicative of the strength of secular movement against political Islam.


The atrocities of political Islam are global. The stoning to death in Iran and Afghanistan, the struggle to force Hijab in public places in France, the attempt to set up Islamic courts in Canada are all various parts of the one and same phenomena: political Islam. The threat is global. The fight against it must be, therefore, waged on a global scale.  


We must stand up, we must defend our secular values, and we must defeat them.