Recent objections to whether sharia triubunals should be created to provide arbitration for Ontarian Muslims are, I feel, unfounded. Many of the counterarguments are based on incidents in Muslim nations where women have been stoned to death for infidelity, or similarly received punishments incredibly severe when compared to the minor or imagined crimes for which they were prescribed. As horrible as these incidents are, to suggest that they are characteristic of sharia or Muslims and that they will be repeated in Canada is blatantly racist.

These are extreme examples occuring under specific conditions - including the coincidence of religious and secular law, the authority of religious officials, a weaker attention to human rights, and similar results of fully- or partially-theocratic government. We are fortunate enough in Canada to enjoy a democracy that, in comparison to the nations in which these abuses are committed, is nearly absolute. Sharia cannot conceivably create situations in which women’s rights will be degraded if is conducted within the bounds of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - as it is required to by current law.

In fact, it could be suggested that equitable, nonviolent and satisfying application sharia in the lives of Canadian Muslims could set a precedent for other nations seeking to embrace human rights more fully while not abandoning religious practices. Gay marriages are now conducted in some Canadian churches despite the rhetoric and sometimes violent objections of conservative Christians here and abroad; the case of sharia, if fostered properly, could be much the same.

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