The editorial explains that a possible Sharia court in Canada “will invite consenting Muslims to submit disputes about marriage, money and other civil matters to arbitrators schooled in the precepts of Islamic religious law. Assuming the decisions are otherwise consistent with federal law . . . , these Sharia judgments would then be enforceable in Canadian courts.”
That consistency with federal law makes all the difference: “The question of how much would be left of Sharia after courts strip away everything that is sexist or otherwise prohibited is an interesting question — but not one we need to deal with here. Our point is that giving Muslims the right to apply Sharia in the resolution of mundane civil disputes will not lead to the stoning of adulterous women — or any other scandalous result. In other words, while the combination of Ontario arbitration law and Sharia may titillate the blogosphere, Canadians have little to fear.”
That sounds reasonable, and I’m sure that that is indeed the framework within which Sharia is being introduced in Canada. However, I wonder what will happen when a group that is growing rapidly in numbers and influence begins to call for changes in that federal law on multiculturalist grounds, charging that their freedom to be who they are is being infringed by statutes that restrict full implementation of Sharia among themselves. Then if that group becomes a majority in the country, I wonder if any among them will remember the pronouncements of many learned jurists of their faith to the effect that once their group is a majority in a nation, Sharia must become of the law of the land.
Will any of this happen? Maybe not. But I wouldn’t go so far as to assume that it cannot happen.