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18 March 2010

Shari'a Law in the West?!

By Gina Liggett

It is difficult to find exact statistics on the numbers of Muslims immigrating to the West from all over the world. I can tell you that in the apartments next door to me there are scores of North African Islamic families, the women wearing traditional head-to-toe cover-up, the families attending the mosque down my street.

But a disturbing fact is emerging: many leaders in immigrant Muslim communities want to pass laws in their new home countries creating a parallel legal system of Shari'a law based on Islamic religious and tribal traditions alongside Western law, which of course is based generally on secular Constitutional principles of individual rights.

The AHA Foundation Exposes Abusive Islamic Practices

This information came to my attention from an organization called the AHA Foundation, which was started in 2007 by the extraordinary Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As I described in my review of her book Infidel, published in the March 2008 edition of American Atheist, Ms. Hirsi Ali escaped a repressive and tortuous Islamic-tribal upbringing in Somalia, refused an arranged marriage, renounced Islam, escaped to Holland, educated herself about Western ideals, and got elected member of Dutch Parliament. She is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an activist against the repressive anti-human-rights practices of Islam.

The mission of the AHA Foundation is to:

  • Investigate acts of violence against females in the West in the name of Islam;
  • Inform relevant law enforcement, courts, political leaders, journalists, writers, child protection groups, community and civil rights organizations that are active in dealing with domestic violence and in protecting the rights of women and children;
  • Influence policy makers against introducing Shari'a law as a legitimate alternative legal system in the West.
The Misogynistic Practices of Shari'a Law

Many in the Muslim world claim Shari'a law does not come from the Koran. But the more fundamentalist and tribal sects of Islamic immigrants want to import laws that have been interwoven for centuries into their cultural traditions. These barbaric practices overwhelmingly violate the individual rights of females. I often wonder what goes on in the homes of my North African Muslim neighbors.

From the AHA Foundation website, these laws include (I have edited the information for brevity):
  • Child Brides: minors married off to older men.
  • Forced or "Arranged" Marriages: A girl's resistance to this marriage often leads to severe beatings or an "honor" killing.
  • Forbidden Divorces: Women who seek divorce from abusive husbands find they are obstructed by not only their husbands but their fathers, brothers and in-laws, preventing them from seeking or obtaining a divorce. Many of these women often become victims of beatings or honor killings.
  • Loss of Child Custody by the Mother: In many divorce cases the mother is no longer allowed to have custody of her child older than seven. Many western ex-wives of Muslim men find themselves in this position.
  • Guardianship: A woman must always have a male guardian from whom she needs permission for all her activities. This ranges from asking permission to leave the house to seeking permission to sign contracts, accept jobs, etc. This concept applies to all women, and the legal age of maturity in the West is not recognized.
  • House Arrest: Girls and women who are seen to be too liberal or westernized are forbidden to go out of the house without a male escort; resistance to this often leads to punishment or even an "honor" killing.
  • Domestic Slaves: Girls as young as 10 or 11 years who work as housemaids as unpaid domestic slaves. These girls do not go to school. They are often orphans, and their only family often consists of relatives who abuse them. Sometimes they are illegal immigrants.
  • Female Genital Mutilation: This horrific, ultimate example of sexual torture is a world-wide, culturally-sanctioned practice inflicted upon girls between the ages of 4 and 14. Many Muslims argue that the practice has nothing to do with Islam. Female genital mutilation is not in the Koran, but it is included in a Hadith (a saying of the prophet). The fact is, in the West, Muslim communities are almost the only ones that practice it. It is to ensure virginity until the girl's wedding day. The ritual may not be Islamic per se, but it serves the Islamic purpose of ensuring that a girl remains a virgin till she is married.
  • Polygamy: Polygamy is a part of Shari'a law. Those men who practice it may have one civil marriage and, in addition, two or three Shari'a marriages. In the UK, a number of these polygamous marriages are "legally recognized."
  • Honor Beatings: This is a beating of a girl or a woman for refusing to comply with the family code of honor and engaging in behavior deemed by the family to be shameful. Ignoring the rules of house-arrest; resisting a forced marriage; seeking a divorce; dating; dressing in western attire; wearing make-up; or simply taking non-Muslims as friends; these and a whole series of activities are seen as an invitation to be beaten. The beatings are intended to be corrective. If the girl complies, normally punishment ceases.
  • Honor Killings: Honor-killings are mostly pre-meditated and are often carried out with the knowledge and help of family members and other relatives. When the corrective beatings fail to dissuade a girl/woman from complying with the wishes of her family or giving up the behavior they consider shameful, the family may conclude that the only way they can regain the 'honor' lost through the girl's 'shameful' behavior is to kill her. The plotting can take days, weeks, months and even years.
  • Deportations/Kidnapping: Some families or husbands will not go so far as to kill a disobedient daughter or wife. Instead they trick her into going back 'home' (native country) on vacation; then they confiscate her passport and force her into marriage or whatever it is they want her to do. Some families prefer to take a disobedient girl to the country of origin and kill her there, as they can escape punishment for the murder or get a low prison sentence for their action.
It is most noteworthy that Ayaan Hirsi Ali suffered most of these crimes during her life before escaping to the West, including genital mutilation at about the age of nine. What is most shocking and demoralizing is that the women themselves enable the perpetuation of this abuse in their communities, obviously out of fear and lack of power. I call this "Stockholm Syndrome" on a society-wide scale.

Islamic Fundamentalists in the West Push for Shari'a Law

If you think these laws from the Dark Ages aren't invading the West, think again. As one example, in Britain in 2008, Shari'a law has been upheld under a legal maneuver called "arbitration."

Other western countries -- including Canada and the United States -- are being intimidated by certain Islamic leaders to follow suit and have Shari'a law legally enforceable.

The AHA foundation presents a detailed report of specific examples in the West where these practices have in fact occurred.

In No Way Should Shari'a Law Be Allowed to Infect the West

These Muslim communities must not be allowed to create a parallel set of barbaric laws under some Western rationalization of respecting "multiculturalism." A society built upon ideals of upholding individual rights must not enable morally heinous laws that legalize the abuse, sexual torture, or murder of women and girls in the name of religious/cultural practices.

Anyone forcing their daughter to marry an uncle 50 years her senior; tribal women participating in a ritual to mutilate a girl's genitalia; male relatives physically assaulting a girl for wearing jeans; families enslaving a girl to be their housekeeper -- these people should be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed according to U.S. law.

We must fight hard as a culture to preserve the historic greatness embodied in the ideals of American individual rights and freedoms, and not decay into a decrepit mishmash of religious and tribal ritualism.

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