31 October 2008

Jack Straw makes clear Sharia principles subject to English law

Jack Straw last night made clear that Sharia principles will always be subject to English law. Sharia principles could be used to resolve family and other personal disputes but no English court would endorse any agreement which conflicted with English law.

Mr Straw, the justice secretary, said in a speech in London: “I am firm in disagreeing with those who say that Sharia law should be made a separate system in the UK.” [Times Online] Read more

17 October 2008

Death for apostasy?

Although the Council of Ex-Muslims and AC Grayling depict the threat to life and limb as an indisputable fact, in reality there are differences of opinion among Muslim scholars (ostensibly the hard core of the religion) regarding the death penalty for apostates.

This is not to say that Muslim governments – and Arab ones in particular – have a tolerant view of apostasy but the death threat is invoked only rarely and more for political reasons rather than religion ones: to set an example or to save face as a proxy punishment for challenging the social or political status quo.

While this is in no way acceptable, it is an extension of the general lack of enshrined civic human rights and evolved political institutions and processes – a historical, social and geo-political reality in many Muslim countries that makes a mockery of any comparison to the experience of those renouncing Christianity or Judaism. [Guardian CiF] Read more

10 October 2008

Canada's Maclean's magazine wins hate speech case

A rights tribunal on Friday dismissed a case against Canada's Maclean's magazine, which was accused of spreading hatred against Muslims in an article by conservative writer Mark Steyn. The 2006 article "The New Word Order" may have caused some to fear Muslims as a threat to western society, but that did not mean that it promoted religious hatred, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled.

"The article, with all of its inaccuracies and hyperbole, has resulted in political debate which in our view (the human rights code) was never intended to suppress," the three-member panel ruled.

Media and civil rights groups had opposed the complaint against Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress, fearing that a ruling against the national newsweekly would lead to restrictions on freedom of the press. [Reuters.com] Read more