Daniel Pipes tackles the issue of Muslim special privilages in the NY Sun, via his site, with thanks to EPG and RB:
Throughout the West, Muslims are making new and assertive
demands, and in some cases challenging the very premises of European and North American life. How to respond?
Here is a general rule: Offer full rights – but turn down demands for special privileges.
I would only add a caveat: full rights, yes, but with full understanding of Islam’s uniqueness as a political and social program as well as a guide for individual piety. For too long too many have gotten away with too much because of the unquestioned assumption that Islam is a religion like all others, and that Muslims therefore will have no trouble accepting Western pluralism.
By way of example, note two current Canadian controversies. The first concerns the establishment of voluntary Shariah (Islamic law) courts in Ontario. This idea is promoted by the usual Islamist groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Canada and the Canadian Islamic Congress. It is most prominently opposed by Muslim women’s groups, led by Homa Arjomand, who fear that the Islamic courts, despite their voluntary nature, will be used to repress women’s rights.
I oppose any role for Shariah, a medieval body of law, in public life today, but as long as women are truly not coerced (create an ombudsman to ensure this?) and Islamic rulings remain subordinate to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I see no grounds on which to deny Muslims the right, like other Canadians, to revert to private arbitration….
Here again, it would have to be definitively established that all parties concerned, particularly Muslim women in Canada, were resorting to Sharia arbitration voluntarily. It’s a thorny question.
But anyway, read all of Pipes’ piece; it’s a useful beginning to a discussion that needs to be held. You’ll find many useful links in the original.