The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils says “Muslims in Australia should accept the Australian values, and Australia should provide a ‘public sphere’ for Muslims to practise their belief. It takes two to tango.”
Cute, but they are acting as though they are just looking for reciprocity when their demand for Sharia is one without comparison for any other group that has settled in Australia. In asking for “legal pluralism,” they want a selective opt-out clause on being Australian.
They dance around the reasons for concern about Sharia. It is supremacist, totalitarian, and not designed for selective implementation: supposedly divine laws do not lend themselves to compartmentalization. Then, of course, there is the actual content of the law, and the observable impact of Sharia everywhere else it has gained strength: tolerance goes down, persecution goes up. Women’s rights decrease, and abusive and invasive enforcement increase. Sharia has never resulted in a free society by Western standards of human rights, because it is not designed to do so.
One tactic we see here that we have also seen in arguments in defense of Sharia in Britain and against laws being passed in the United States regards Sharia’s supposed adaptability and flexibility. That should not be reassuring. It should be equal cause for alarm. It shows that Sharia is wired for deceptive implementation: People are deliberately deceived from knowing what they are getting, unless they know where to look for information.
But that doesn’t change the content of the law, as much as apologists wish it could shape-shift like the goo in a lava lamp the moment a non-Muslim notes an unpleasant provision.
In other words, Sharia is everything, except when it’s nothing in particular. But ultimately, the promise of adaptability demands trust in a reform that has not taken place. It can be adapted. It might be adapted. Except apologists will turn right around and argue there’s nothing wrong with it.
THE nation’s peak Muslim group is using the Gillard government’s re-embracing of multiculturalism to push for the introduction of sharia in Australia, but it says it would be a more moderate variety of Islamic law that fits with Australian values.
Even if they presented a binding constitution of “moderate” Australian Sharia, it would be immaterial. Where it was in agreement with Australian laws, it would be redundant. Where it disagreed, it would be illegal.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s new multiculturalism policy, argues that Muslims should enjoy “legal pluralism”.
In an interview with The Australian, the organisation’s president, Ikebal Adam Patel, who wrote the submission, nominated family law and specifically divorce as an area where moderate interpretations of sharia could co-exist within the Australian legal system.
In the submission, the AFIC acknowledges some Muslims believe Islamic law is immutable, regardless of history, time, culture and location.
“They claim that Muslims may change, but Islam will not,” it says.
The AFIC argues this is not the case and sharia can be applied in a way that fits in to Australia and is not extreme.
“This means most of the regulations in Islamic law may be amended, changed, altered, and adapted to social change.
“Therefore, Muslims Australia-AFIC takes the position that Islamic law is changeable according to the requirements of different places and times, and therefore suits the values shared by Australian people,” the submission says.
A hardline reading of sharia confers unilateral divorce rights on men, while women who initiate divorce are stripped of their property and financial entitlements.
A more moderate interpretation and common practice in Islamic countries is to recognise divorce by mutual consent.
In the interview, Mr Patel said: “I’m saying that instead of letting the extremists within Islam take over the agenda, we are saying there is a path whereby it will work for all the communities in a moderate way.
“It is important for someone who is Muslim or a practising Jew that aspects of our religion which can be incorporated within the greater legal system are introduced.
“This is about personal issues about family, and won’t affect any other Australian,” he said.
“It’s about a system that does not impinge on the rights of any other Australian.”
The fact that you want your private laws, and a foot in the door for a totalitarian system, are no less unacceptable.
In its submission to the inquiry, the AFIC says criticisms of sharia as being biased against women and treating them as second-class citizens are wrong.
“It is important for Muslims to seriously consider this criticism,” the submission says.
“But it is also important for the Australian government to respect the rights of Muslim women who want to keep and maintain the way they dress, eat and interact with others, as long as such behaviour does not inflict harm to others.
“Muslims in Australia should accept the Australian values, and Australia should provide a ‘public sphere’ for Muslims to practise their belief. It takes two to tango….