Some seventy years on, following decades of a zestly-pursued and much-vaunted policy of multiculturalism, and the migration of significant numbers of Muslims to a country which, pre-war, had been almost homogeneously “British” in population and culture (the “White Australia” policy, which had its genesis in New South Wales in the 1880s as a result of fears over the “cheap labour” of Chinese immigrants, was enshrined in law when Australia became a federated nation in 1901 and only began to be abandoned in the 1960s) demands for sharia law are being heard.
|At an anti-Israel demo in Melbourne
Former Prime Minister John Howard observed a few years ago when still in office that
“there is a small section of the Islamic population in Australia that, because of its remarks about jihad, remarks which indicate an extremist view, [present] a problem.
It is not a problem that we have ever faced with other immigrant communities who become easily absorbed by Australia's mainstream.
We want people when they come to Australia to adopt Australians' ways.
We don't ask them to forget the countries of their birth, we respect all religious points of view and people are entitled to practise them but there are certainly things that are not part of the Australian mainstream.
There is within some sections of the Islamic community an attitude towards women which is out of line with mainstream Australian society.
It needs to be dealt with by the broader community, including Islamic Australia. There is really not much point in pretending it doesn't exist."However, a prominent barrister in the Australian state of Victoria, Peter Faris QC, has now argued that no such opt-out on the lines of that of Oklahoma, where voters recently endorsed a proposal to forbid state courts from considering or employing sharia and other foreign law codes, is possible in Victoria owing to the latter’s adoption of the Charter of Human Rights (hat tip: reader Shirlee).
‘In Victoria, the Charter of Human Rights actually permits the use of international laws and judgments in applying the charter,' explains Mr Faris.
'Section 14 of that charter provides for freedom of religion. The issue then arises, does this mean that Muslims are entitled to have Shariah law applied to them in the Victorian courts?
Obviously, Islam is a religion. Less obvious, but more important is that, unlike Christianity, Islam is a complete religion governing every aspect of the believer's life, including law.
Shariah law is actually an integral part of the Islamic religious belief and, under the charter, must be protected and applied. Section 32(2) of the charter throws more light on the issue.
That subsection states: "International law and the judgments of domestic, foreign and international courts and tribunals relevant to a human right may be considered in interpreting a statutory provision."
It is important to understand that there are "courts and tribunals" applying Shariah law to the 1.6 billion Muslims in the Muslim world.
In addition to that, the Islamic world has its own Human Rights Covenants – Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, 1990, which is intended to "serve as a general guidance for member states in the field of human rights". In the Cairo Declaration, it is made clear that all human rights derive from the Koran.
For example: "There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Shariah" (Article 19(d)); "All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this declaration are subject to the Islamic Shariah" (Article 24); and "The Islamic Shariah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration" (Article 25).
These human rights must be fully respected. Australian Muslims deserve no less.
Decisions on Islamic human rights must be relevant in deciding whether Shariah law is applicable in Victoria.
Quite obviously, those Islamic decisions powerfully state that Shariah law must be applied. The Victorian courts must consider these decisions under the charter, thus it makes it very likely that, at some stage in the future, Shariah law will be applied.
Further, there is precedent in Victoria through courts that are for the exclusive use of a minority group, in this instance Aborigines (known in Victoria as Kooris).
As a matter of principle, there is no difference between special courts that are racially defined (Koori courts) to those which are religiously defined (Shariah courts).
In fact, the Muslims have a much stronger case because their devoutly held beliefs actually include a legal system (Shariah).
It is this sort of process that the Oklahoma citizens voted against. In Victoria it is too late.(http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/charter-opens-door-to-sharia-law-recognition/story-e6frg8zx-1225964766903)
This has prompted an Egyptian-born Copt, now resident in Sydney, to make the following heartfelt and powerful response (I'm most grateful to Ibby for giving me permission to reproduce his statement, and to Shirlee for bringing it to my attention):
|Copts rallying in Washington earlier this year
“Whilst very happy to see Shariah is been raised in the public arena, I was extremely disturbed when I read the [Faris] article. It concerns me immensely that our government is seemingly oblivious to the venomous consequences of shariah.
For our governments irrespective of political affiliations to allow any form of Shariah law to creep into our legal system under any guise is a total dereliction of duty and betrayal of our constitution. I have written a few articles on shariah and have read the reports relating to the dire consequences and threats posed by shariah.
As you may be aware there are a number of countries that extensively exercise shariah to differing degrees under the pretext of a legal system. I find it difficult to fathom the actions of Victoria as Shariah in fact totally contradicts and ignores many elements of the charter of human rights.
I am disgusted Victoria has displayed a total lack of diligence, vigilance and allows shariah to challenge the fundamental principles our wonderful country is founded on. The Anzacs must be rolling in their graves, our traditions and values can never ever be compromised for any reason. The incompetence of the Victorian government will leave a legacy that will haunt future generations for decades. With a growing Islamic population demands will increase, allowing Muslims to bypass our legal system and allow a draconian barbaric Stone Age system to infiltrate our country.
I hold the view that there is no word that truly defines Islam.
To say it is a religion is a fallacy and an insult to the word “religion”. It is not a religion. The term “religion” has a generally accepted meaning. Most people consider religion as, “a faith system usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs in so far as it relates to the individuals spiritual and moral conduct”.
On that basis Islam is not a religion. Islam is an all encompassing ideology that includes religion as part of that Ideology. Islam has many tentacles; it is a totalitarian extremist system that includes military, social, legal, religious and political controls over every aspect of an individual private and public life. Religion is but one of the tentacles of Islam. Shariah is in fact the legal tentacle of Islam. As a result of the worldwide Islamic tsunami, the world is fast reaching a point where nations are losing their national identities, heritage, culture and foundations. Nations are increasingly been [being] referred to as Islamic and non-Islamic. Radical Islam is also a very loose term; fact is the text of Islam “Koran”, demands and imposes upon every Muslim a duty for “World wide domination, Islamisation and imposition of shariah law and installation of a caliph. The end result is the call for “Jihad”.
I would ask all our politicians the following:
How is it possible that Australia tolerates the introduction of any aspect of shariah law to run parallel in any form to any degree along with our laws?
How can Australia allow a system that fundamentally undermines our democratic system that guarantees freedom, liberty, and equality with in the confines of our laws?
What will Australia do when posed with the dilemma of a Muslim person refusing to be subjected or tried under shariah law?
How is it possible that Australia will allow for its citizens to be judged differently based on been Muslim or non-Muslim?
Does this not contradict the whole concept of our legal system one law for all citizens?
Why does the Australian Attorney General allow any legal system of any description to openly challenge the fundamental principals of our constitution and legal system?
What will the Attorney general propose to about the creeping shariah into the Victorian legal system? Who is guarding our laws and system??
Hopefully the slap in the face to the Victorian ALP in the last election will awaken those apathetic politicians.
More importantly, does this precedent pave the way for other religious denominations to demand the same rights?
It may be a very good idea for the Einsteins in our parliaments to look at Egypt and learn of the consequences of shariah and Islamisation. The Copts in Egypt have dwindled to 10% of the 80million population. The experiment of Islamisation has been performed and the results are dark and sinister. Egypt was 100% Christian, after the Arab Islamic invasion 1400 years ago the Copts have become the minority and are treated as second class citizens in their own home land. The Copts struggle daily for recognition and basic human rights such as construction of a church. It terrifies me that my homeland of Australia could one day suffer the same fate. (You may have heard about the attack on the Copts by the Egyptian security force 2 weeks ago. The security force ( an "army"), of 3000 men stormed a church, fired live ammunition, tear gas, rubber bullets, stole the church pews, stole the donation boxes, killed 4 people to date, arrested up to 1200 according to some reports all over an alleged "unauthorised use of a building and not build in accordance with building approvals.)
.... I would pray that our legal eagles, take up the concerns and force the A[ttorney] G[eneral] to address the same and protect our legal system.
Finally I consider that it is imperative that every Australian should be fully conversant and aware of the realms of shariah and its repressive abusive nature which is diametrically opposed to Australian civil liberties, with out this knowledge they will never be in a position to make an informed decision about shariah.'