(RNS) North Carolina became the seventh state to prohibit its judges from considering Islamic law after Gov. Pat McCrory allowed the bill to become law without formally signing it.
McCory, a Republican, called the law “unnecessary,” but declined to veto it. The bill became law on Sunday (Aug. 25).
The state joins Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
Supporters hailed the bill as an important safeguard that protects the American legal system from foreign laws that are incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, while critics argued that the bill’s only purpose is to whip-up anti Muslim hatred because the Constitution already overrides foreign laws.
Although the bill does not specifically identify Islamic law, critics argue that the bill’s only purpose is to invoke anti-Muslim sentiments since the US Constitution already supersedes foreign law. In an action alert [text] urging McCrory to veto the bill, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stated “The bill itself is intended to marginalize and stigmatize North Carolina Muslims and will have a negative impact on the rights of people of all faiths and backgrounds.”
The North Carolina ban is limited to family law; bans in other states are broader, applying to commercial law, contract law and other types of laws.
Critics of sharia law, the very individuals who encourage banning it, would probably be the first to ask: If U.S. laws do in fact trump sharia laws for American Muslims who live in the United States, then why would a ban bother them? The answer to this question is simple: Because banning sharia law is unconstitutional and an infringement on their religious freedoms as American citizens.
When the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice announced it would begin offering Sharia-based services in Ontario, a subsequent provincial government review gave qualified support for religious arbitration. However, the ensuing debate inflamed the passions of a wide range of Muslim and non-Muslim groups, garnered worldwide attention, and led to a ban on religiously based family law arbitration in the province. Debating Sharia sheds light on how Ontario’s Sharia debate of 2003-2006 exemplified contemporary concerns regarding religiosity in the public sphere and the place of Islam in Western nation states.
Focusing on the legal ramifications of Sharia law in the context of rapidly changing Western liberal democracies, Debating Sharia approaches the issue from a variety of methodological perspectives, including policy and media analysis, fieldwork, feminist examinations of the portrayals of Muslim women, and theoretical examinations of religion, Sharia, and the law. This volume is an important read for those who grapple with ethnic and religio-cultural diversity while remaining committed to religious freedom and women’s equality.
Integrating Islamic law in family law in European and North American societies poses a serious threat to women’s rights – and to national integrity, writes Elham Manea, Swiss-Yemeni political scientist
Every time the suggestion of introducing Islamic law in Western legal system is mentioned, it is tempered by its proponents with the sentence: this would only affect the family law. Ye it is precisely because this suggestion concerns family law, it should be rejected. For the issue here relates to nothing but legally sanctioned discrimination against women and children.
Calls for the introduction of forms of Islamic Law, Sharia, into European and North American legal systems have often been made by three groups of people.
First, from Islamic organizations which often represent a traditional if not conservative reading of Islam. Second, from high European or North American officials or figures, who seem to be genuinely concerned about the integration of Muslim communities in their respective countries, and consider the move inevitable for any “successful” integration of Muslims. Third, from within the circle of legal anthropology academics, who are leading a theoretical and intellectual discourse on the state.
Earlier this week a debate broke out after representatives of as well the Norwegian Islamic Council as the Norwegian court of law said they might be open for a national sharia council, judging in family matters. A number of politicians, as well as Muslim representatives, has spoken against such an institution. Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Störe says everyone is to apply to the same laws in Norway, and that a separate family law for Muslims would have a negative effect on integration.
Since The Globe and Mail daily newspaper began staffing its Afghanistan bureau full-time in 2006, it has sent a number of female news correspondents to the country. In light of the current controversy over Afghan women’s rights, this article features four journalists who reflect on their own experiences in the country. Jane Armstrong notes the invisibility of women in public spaces in Kandahar City; Christie Blatchford notes the hostility toward her presence in small villages in the countryside as she wore only a headscarf. Gloria Galloway claims, “The full-body veil is, after all, a constraining garment. Peripheral vision is eliminated and even the view straight ahead is hazy through the lace. It’s also hot and stuffy and awkward, with folds of fabric that catch in doors and wire fencing. But it provides security for both me and my fixer. And it sheds some light on how most women in southern Afghanistan experience the world outside their compounds.” The four journalists say nothing of the new family law on rape in marriage.
A growing movement of scholars are reinterpreting Islamic texts to argue for family law reforms to ensure equal treatment of Muslim men and women, speakers told a Policy Dialogue held in cooperation with the King Baudouin Foundation with support from the US Mission. A recent study of Muslim women in Europe shows most are proud to be ‘European Muslims’ and appreciate Europe’s respect for freedom and diversity. They do not want draconian laws on wearing the veil, for example, preferring to make their own decisions.