A poll published last week (Feb. 19) in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, reveals that four out of every ten British Muslims want Sharia law introduced in areas of the country which are pre-dominantly Muslim, while 41 percent oppose it.
Sharia law is used in large parts of the Middle East, most notably in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. The law is enforced by a religious police. Special courts can hand out harsh punishments; for sexual offences punishments include stoning, for theft amputation, and for apostasy death. The law also contains detailed rules for practically every aspect of life and is made up of elements from the Koran and the Hadith besides rulings by Muslim judges from the first centuries of Islam.
Sharia law also includes provisions that allow men to have several wives. Women are inferior to men and can easily be divorced. It suffices for the husband to recite „I divorce you“ three times. A woman’s testimony is worth less than that of a man, and women cannot marry non-Muslims though Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women. Sharia law also enforces a dress code on men and women, although the dress code for men is much more relaxed than that for women. The latter are required to cover themselves entirely, including their hair and the shape of their bodies, except for their faces and hands. Such paragraphs obviously conflict with Western societies where individual freedom and the equal treatment of citizens are among the main principles. Radical Muslim imams, however, want to cordon Sharia provisions off from Western influence.
In September the head of Canada's Ontario province, Dalton McGuinty, rejected a proposal to allow Muslims to use Sharia law in family disputes such as divorce and child custody. Marion Boyd, a former attorney general, had recommended this in a report, but Mr McGuinty ruled against the move, saying there should be “one law for all Ontarians.”
In Australia Finance Minister Peter Costello, who is widely expected to become Australia’s next Prime Minister, demands that Muslim extremists with dual citizenship who scorn Australian values, be stripped of their citizenship. Such people should settle in countries where they feel more comfortable, said Mr Costello. He also denounced multiculturalism as “mushy and misguided” and wants new citizens to accept Australian laws rather than attempt to live by alternative codes from their home countries, such as Sharia law. He said it was a sign of respect for Australia in the same way that taking off one’s shoes before entering a mosque shows deference towards Islam. “If you have strong objections to walking in your socks, don’t enter the mosque,” Mr Costello said in Sydney late Thursday. “If you have strong objections to [Australian] values, don’t come to Australia.”
Australian Muslim leaders have strongly criticized Mr Costello’s comments while complaining about alleged hostility towards Muslims from the Australian conservative government. Meanwhile Prime Minister John Howard has come out in Mr Costello’s support saying his comments were „fundamentally accurate“ and accusing Muslim leaders of being too sensitive to criticism. “He’s not trying to stir up hostilities with Islamic people,” Mr Howard told commercial radio. “For some to throw up their arms in horror and say that there’s something wrong in even talking about this issue is ridiculous,” he added.
The Norwegian human rights think tank Human Rights Service (HRS) recently warned against compromising with Islamists. “There is a gulf between secular democracy and Islamism as a totalitarian ideology which goes hand in hand with fascism, communism and nazism. Indications of the similarities between those ideologies is the Islamists’ derogative views on Jews, that they exalt themselves as superior people, and that they want to subvert secular democracy,” said Hege Storhaug from HRS to the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen.
In Mrs Storhaug’s opinion the increasing debate on Islam has made the lines clearer, showing better which Muslims are Islamists and which ones are willing to become part of the Norwegian democratic society. She said it is terrible to see Muslim women in Norway wearing burqas in accordance with the Sharia law’s dress code. Mrs Storhaug also said she is very concerned about the attitude of Islamists towards homosexuals. The radical Mulims want homosexuality to be punished with death. “I would like to see an imam who says that Sharia law would not prevail in Norway if Muslims were in the majority,“ she said.
Last December a poll in Antwerp among a representative group of Muslim youths between 15 and 25 years of age, revealed that 21% of the young Antwerp Muslims find it “problematic” that the majority of Antwerp’s citizens are non-Muslims.