Spread of IslamDear family & friends in Christ,

I am sure you are well aware of the news over the last week that the Islamic Federation of Australia has requested the Federal Government to implement Islamic Sharia law in Australia. What is most interesting is the fact that this organization is supposed to be representing the voice of moderate mainstream Muslims in Australia.

Following is a very good article written by Rev Mark Durie (Anglican Minister) who was one of the expert witnesses in the court case between the Islamic Council of Victoria and CTFM from 2002 to 2007.

Rising Up Australia for God’s Righteousness,

Pr Daniel Nalliah

Australia Gets It Right on Sharia Implementation – by Rev Mark Durie

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Australian Government is holding a national inquiry into multiculturalism.  The Australian newspaper yesterday reported that the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has requested the introduction of Sharia law under the umbrella of multiculuralism (the AFIC submission can be downloaded here: other submissions are available here).  However, Australian Attorney-General, Robert McClelland has stated that:

“Sharia law has no place in the Australian legal system.”

“As our citizenship pledge makes clear, coming to Australia means obeying Australian laws and upholding Australian values.”

“Australia’s brand of multiculturalism promotes integration. If there is any inconsistency between cultural values and the rule of law, then Australian law wins out.”

“People who migrate to Australia do so because of the fact we have a free, open and tolerant society where men and women are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background.”

“Indeed, all applicants for citizenship swear collective allegiance to the people of Australia, and undertake to respect our customs and abide by our laws. The values underpinning those principles will not be changing.”
Arguments used by the Federation of Islamic Councils and its representatives for accommodating sharia law include:

• Islam itself advocates legal pluralism, each religious community following its own laws.

• Islam allows a role for customs or cultural practices, provided that they do not conflict with fundamental requirements of Islam.

• The dhimmi system under the Ottomans allowed non-Muslims to be governed by their own law, giving them power and dignity in their own right.

• Although modern scholars now reject the dhimmi system as unjust, Muslims in the West are treated worse than dhimmis, because they are compelled to live under Western law and are not granted their own ‘Millet’ or legally recognized religious community.

• Islamic law is part of Muslims’ culture, so multiculturalism should provide a place for Islamic law.

• The Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chief Justice of England have both endorsed religious pluralism through accommodations sharia law.

• The Australian Government already actively supports accommodation to sharia law in the areas of halal food and Islamic finance: the Australian Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry, it is claimed, has ‘pledged’ to amend tax laws in order to attract more Islamic finance to the country.

• It is inconsistent to rule out introducing sharia law while at the same time encouraging the development of Islamic finance and the government regulation of halal food.

• Although some Muslims believe that sharia is immutable, many Muslim scholars do not agree, and “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.”

• A compromised is required between Muslims and Australia:  “Muslims in Australia should accept the Australian values, and Australia should also provide a ‘public sphere’ for Muslims to practice their belief.”  This implies that for Muslims to actively support Australia as a concept, they need the quid pro quo of being provided with  official public recognition of Islam through legal accommodation of sharia law:  “This approach demands a compromise from Islam, which should be open to other values, and also to make a similar demand of Australia. It is not only Australian Muslims who should reconcile these identities, but also all Australians.” This is what the submission called ‘twin tolerations’: the religion tolerates the state and the state tolerates the religion (citing Alfred Stephan).  The submission states ‘It takes two to tango.’

The AFIC submission is a  request for Australian society to offer a kind of legal covering for Islamic sharia to exist in Australian society.  In separate comments, AFIC spokesman advanced further arguments:

• Sharia accommodation is already working well in Britain the the USA.

• If the Government does accommodate, this will prevent ‘extremists’ within Islam from taking over the agenda.

• What is being proposed at present are accommodations to divorce and family law, which will not affect non-Muslim Australians: “This is about personal issues about family, and won’t affect any other Australian,” and “It’s about a system that does not impinge on the rights of any other Australian.”

In a related news story, it has been reported that sharia courts are already functioning in Sydney, Australia.  This is hardly surprising, and only mirrors a pattern which has been observed all throughout Western nations.

To which I make the following observations:

The Australian Government is wise and sensible to act quickly to reject sharia implementation.  This is consistent with a series of statements made over the past decade by both Labor and Liberal governments.

It is a terrible irony that Muslims use references to the oppressive dhimmi system as an argument for implementing legal apartheid in Western nations. 

The Muslims’ suggestion that accommodating sharia law will combat extremism can be interpreted as a threat:  “If you don’t give us the sharia we want, then you’ll have to deal with the extremists, who will ‘take over’ the agenda of the Islamic community.”  Does this an unstated threat of terrorism?  It is  important not to capitulate to such threats, in which ‘moderates’ exploit the threat of ‘extremism’ to advance their sharia agenda.

Requests for sharia implementation will never end.  No matter how much is granted, more is demanded.  There is hardly an Islamic state in the world that is not troubled with activists demanding stricter sharia observance.  These groups often resort to violence.  So it does not follow that granting more sharia someone mollifies the extremists.  If that were so, then more sharia-compliant societies would have see violence from the extreme sharia advocates.  In fact the opposite is true.  In fact demands for sharia are a slippery slope: the more is given, the more is demanded.  Better to draw a line in the sand now.  The Australian Government is right to take a stand on this issue.

We should have one law for all.  What AFIC is in effect asking for, is for Muslim women to be treated as second-class citizens under Australian law, because they will have less rights in a sharia court considering issues such as divorce and custody, than in a state court.  It is self-serving for Muslim men to argue that Australia must respect the rights of Muslim women to chose live according to sharia law, when sharia gives men such advantages over women.

Islamic law discriminates against Muslims by compelling Muslims to live according to a legal code which their conscience may reject.  For this reason, in 2003, the Grand Chamber of  European Human Rights court upheld the dissolution of the Refah Party in Turkey.  Refah had aimed to install a plurality of legal systems, under which each community would be ruled according to its own religious principles.  The court found that a plurality of legal system is incompatible with human rights.  This was against the European Convention of Human Rights, because the state would thereby compel individual Muslims to live according to religious rules with which they may not personally agree (See Paul Taylor, Freedom of religion: UN and European human rights law and practice, p.315).

Australian authorities should pay careful attention to AFIC’s argument that halal food regulation and sharia finance are examples of accommodation to sharia, and seriously consider limiting the advance of these two practices in our nation, for this very reason.  There is much that could be done.  For example, it should be required for halal-slaughtered meat to be labeled clearly, so that customers may know they are buying the meat of ritually slaughtered animals, especially since part of the price they pay consists of certification fees paid to an Islamic agency.

Australia should monitor and introduce laws to limit the advance of unofficial sharia courts and other sharia practices.  Sharia law, as it applies to family issues, discriminates against women, and is contrary to basic principles of justice and fairness.   For example the state could make it illegal for licensed religious practitioners (who are licensed by the state as marriage celebrants and whose activities receive tax concessions and ) to officiate at religious marriages if these marriages are not also recognized by the state.

A particular issue is the coercion of people to go to sharia courts to settle matters.  The state should explore the introduction of laws which protect the rights of Muslims – specifically and especially women – who choose to live in ways which are not sharia-compliant.  For example if a woman obtains a civil divorce, she should not be subject to unfair discrimination and intimidation from other Muslims because her divorce is not an Islamic one.  Clearly this is a complex area, and there are limits to the ways in which the state should intrude on religious issues, but it does need to protect the rights of individuals to live according to their consciences, without fear.

Australian authorities have been setting a good example to the world through their clear stand against sharia implementation.  However much more could  be done.

Of one thing we can be sure: religious requirements mean that the request for sharia accommodation will not go away, ever.  The challenge is to just keep saying ‘no’.

Mark Durie
markdurie.com


16 Responses to “Australia Gets It Right on Sharia Implementation – Mark Durie Blog”

  1. 1 David & Dawn

    Pastor Daniel,

    As we know Islam is a government (laws), a culture and a religion – inseparable to the Muslim.

    Consequently we need to forever say “no” or else we will end up with a nation within our Nation.

    Thanks for the article from Mark.

    God bless you

    David & Dawn

  2. 2 Assad

    Whilst Christians around the world are been slaughtered in the name of Islam, and islamic countries in turmoil with pro democracy revolutions resulting in the mass killing of 1000’s, the actions of the Australian Federation of Islamic Council are quiet bizarre.

    The Australian Federation of Islamic Council attempted to test the waters by making a formal request of the government to introduce Shariah Law in Australia. The absurd request vindicates all those that have raised concern and asserted Islam is a potent threat to democratic societies.

    One would reasonably assume all immigrants, (muslims included) coming to Australia would embrace and revel in the new found freedoms and values enshrined in the constitution and reflected in the legal system.

    Sadly the request shows and proves, many muslims arrive here with the intent of “CHANGING” Australia and introduce the draconian Islamic legal System they refer to as “Shariah”.

    Fortunately, the Federal ALP (despite their numerous misgivings and incompetence), are not fool hearty to succumb to the absurd request, that would undermine and divide the integrity of our society and spell long-term political suicide for the Gillard led ALP government.

    The suggestion that Australia introduce a parallel legal system to cater for Islam directly undermines our constitution and secular system.

    The remedy for the Australian Islamic Council is very simple, all those interested in living under shariah law, are more than welcome to vacate the country and travel to Iran, Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic country where they can enjoy the bliss and comfort of living under shariah. I have no doubts that millions of others would gladly love to come here and enjoy Australia the way it is and not the way the islamists would like to see it.

    Assad

  3. 3 Andrew

    To Daniel Nalliah

    I am totally against sharia law being implemented in this Great Southern land of the Holy Spirit of Australia. We MUST STAND FIRM TOGETHER over such a threatening evil force such as this( sharia law) and cannot and should NOT be tolerated. I’ve looked at the submission but find it rather complicated . Is there another guide or way to present our objections on such a issue. Brother in CHRIST, thanks Andrew

  4. 4 John

    Hi

    Agree totally.

    If any one needs other examples, just look at some the messy divorces situations within cults and or where members wish to depart from that group. I have some knowledge (reports about very distant relatives) of serious issues with regards to problems of divorce and child custody situations with the Closed Brethren in Tasmania.

    Likewise have seen situations where adolescent girls have been subject to huge pressure to comply with arranged marriages in Aboriginal areas. One girl paddled 16 k down the coast to get to away and was then sent to Darwin by a white well wisher. The Department and agencies took severe revenge on that person for interfering with the tribal matters.

    At what point do the guidelines of the UN Charter of Human Rights come into play.

    The formally longest word in the English language, disestablishmentarian, speaks of a time where there was severe against discrimination for non conformists – ie congregational protestants’ (Baptists, Methodists etc) in the UK. People died for that.

    We need to look to our cultural heritage to avoid making the same problems. Disestablishmentarism for ever!

    Cheers
    John

  5. 5 Graeme

    Dear Pastor Daniel

    You may be aware that the ACT has a “Bill of Rights’ introduced and passed by the Territory Labor Government led by Jon Stanhope who recently resigned as Chief Minister. This Bill of Rights seeks to protect homosexuals from discrimination &/or vilification. This ALP government has, as its Minister for Education, a openly gay practicing homosexual who has now been promoted to Deputy Chief Minister and is now setting himself up as a role model for school children of like persuasion to emulate as an achiever. This week he was on talk back radio stating that people no longer care about these issue but agreed that homophobia is still prevalent in schools and he seeks to address this issue. However the problem at hand is that their Bill of Rights prevents people from expression view contrary to his. Although he denies it in public it is commonly known that this character aspires to be our Chief Minister.

    God bless

    Graeme

  6. 6 Valarie

    Very interesting as to what is happening behind the scene with regard to Sharia Law in Australia.

    Valarie

  7. 7 Philip Bruce Heywood

    I have mentioned on another post that, under proper circumstances, I would be willing to put money towards publicity aimed at enlightening Australians on topics such as this.

    Stop smacking children, stop having children, let just anyone into the country; and you might end up with a mess. Forty years ago, today’s scenario was a foregone conclusion — bar the grace of God. Lord, have mercy on us.

    I have written so many messages to media and parliamentarians, I suspect the Queensland parliament shuts out my e-mails as a matter of course. Not to mention our gallant media (there are noble exceptions).

    I won’t start in on the legal so-called system but I was startled recently to learn, whilst dealing with a lawyer, that he had seen my name logged with the Australian Federal Police somewhere somehow. I am, officially, ‘a persistent letter writer’, or something along those lines.

    CTFM might believe that. I’m not incurably addicted to it, and don’t hesitate to throw my stuff out.

    I wonder if, say,a hundred thousand e-mails such as that following would achieve anything?

    Dear Mr. McClelland,
    The Gov’t is to be congratulated on rejecting outright Sharia Law. But given the insidious nature of this movement I petition you forthwith to become fully consistent with our bilateral policies on separation of church and state, equality, and so on, and DEPORT ANY WHO ARE PROVED TO BE PRACTISING IT.
    That will give a certain less desirable class of immigrant reason to be less desirous of coming here. Practising Sharia law shouldn’t be difficult to prove in a law court?

    Philip Heywood.

  8. 8 Sherrilyn

    Thanks. We will continue to say, NO!

    Sherrilyn

  9. 9 Col

    Jesus is Lord over Australia!

    regards

    Col

  10. 10 The Australian

    ATTORNEY-GENERAL Robert McClelland has killed any calls for sharia law in Australia arguing there is no place for it in the Gillard Governments debate around its new multicultural policy.

    In its submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the government’s new multiculturalism policy, The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has called for Muslims to be offered “legal pluralism”.

    Mr McClelland said is no place for Sharia Law in Australian society and the Government strongly rejects any proposal for its introduction.

    “As our citizenship pledge makes clear, coming to Australia means obeying Australian laws and upholding Australian values,” he said.
    “Australia’s brand of multiculturalism promotes integration. If there is any inconsistency between cultural values and the rule of law then Australian law wins out.”

    He said we are all blessed to live in a stable democracy underpinned by the rule of law.

    “People who migrate to Australia do so because of the fact that we have a free, open and tolerant society where men and woman are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background.

    “Indeed all applicants for citizenship swear a collective allegiance to the people of Australia and undertake to respect our customs and abide by our laws,” the Attorney-General said.

    “The values underpinning those principles will not be changing.”

    His comments follow a submission from the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s new multiculturalism policy, arguing 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.”

    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.

    “This approach demands a compromise from Islam, which should be open to other values, and also to make a similar demand of Australia.

    “It is not only Australian Muslims who should reconcile these identities, but all Australians.”

    Mr Patel says the AFIC, as the peak body of Islamic organisations in Australia, “strongly supports that multiculturalism should lead to legal pluralism . . . and twin tolerations”.

    The submission cites regulations governing Islamic finance and halal certification in Australia as examples of how legal pluralism can work.

    British law since 1996 has allowed for alternative dispute resolution through sharia tribunals, the rulings of which are enforceable in county courts and the High Court.

    The submission calls on the inquiry members to consider “hard questions” from Muslim communities.

    “Muslims are required to have social integration with the majority of people in Australia: what does this really mean? Should Muslims remove the hijab, dress like others, drink alcohol and go to the pub to demonstrate they have actually integrated?”

    In most Western countries, the submission notes, the idea of an “Islamic family tribunal or arbitration is likely to fuel the debate on radicalism and liberalism”.

    “But is it true that Australia will never consider Islamic law?” it asks.

    “It seems that in two areas, namely Islamic finance and halal food, the Australian government has been actively involved.

    “So although the Attorney-General ruled out introducing Islamic law, or sharia, at the same time Australian financial institutions are encouraged to do much more to attract Muslim business by developing innovative products which comply with Islamic law.

    “Apart from the economic motive, how can we reconcile the conflicting statement and fact?”

  11. 11 Josie

    Praise The Lord…

    Josie

  12. 12 Lorelle

    Thank you for information on how to make a submission to the Multiculturalism Inquiry. Most of the submissions I have read are concerned about Islam. Good on those people who made a submission.
    http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/mig/multiculturalism/subs.htm

    Mark Durie said it well.
    The Muslims’ suggestion that accommodating sharia law will combat extremism can be interpreted as a threat. The implication arises that if Australians don’t give Muslims the sharia they want, then Australia will have to deal with the extremists instead, who will ‘take over’ the agenda of the Islamic community. Does this imply a threat of terrorism? It is important not to capitulate to such threats, in which ‘moderates’ exploit the threat of ‘extremism’ to advance their sharia agenda.

    Requests for sharia implementation will never end. No matter how much is granted, more is demanded. There is hardly an Islamic state in the world which is not troubled with activists demanding stricter sharia observance. Such groups often resort to violence. So it does not follow that granting more sharia somehow mollifies the extremists. If that were so, more sharia-compliant societies would have less violence from the advocates of extreme sharia. In fact the opposite is true. Demands for sharia are a slippery slope: the more is given, the more is demanded. Better to draw a line in the sand now. The Australian Government is right to take a stand on this issue.

    Keep it up WARRIORS.
    For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; 2 Cor 10:4

  13. 13 Sharon

    Thank you for this excellent article. IT’s good to see the stand taken.

    Thanks

    Sharon

  14. 14 Andrea

    Dear Ps Danny Ps Jason and Elizabeth and team. I have just heard an article on sbs world radio about Sydney Christians to brace themselves about Islamists in Sydney putting ads on buses claiming Jesus is a prophet of Islam that Mohammed is the true saviour and that he only leads to peace and for a free copy of the Koran to ring a Syd no. Very distressing info, rubbish. I would like the Church in Syd to make a united stand and publicly denounce this material. Christ was not a wimp. In fact the Olivet discourse Mat Chapters 21-25 show how prior to Calvary He took on the religious zealots, leaders and taught them the truth… by the end they were ready to put Him on the cross there and then. Jesus the most brilliant orator of humanity is our example that we are not to be abused, rather to stand up in (Christlike way) for what we believe in. Some wld say to ignore.. I don’t think so. Please get back to me with comments, am still seeking permanent work/job, thanks for prayers, Andrea.

  15. 15 Kamran

    I find it ridiculous for the people coming all the way to Australia, demanding the implementation of the Sharia Law here. the main reason I came to this country is to get away from the, misfortune, war, torture, killing, discrimination of the Islamic regime that brought my old country (Iran) to its knees.

    Iranians, have suffered for 32 years, under the Islamic ruling and there is yet to be a window of opportunity for the Iranian people to express their rights.

    Iranians have seen and experienced the implementation of the Islamic laws, hence losing their primitive rights for Iranian women, the right to the way they want to live their lives. Practicing their own religion, and expressing their political and social point of view.

    Now thousands of kilometers away, people who never had the right to speak against their religion in their own country are living a good life in Australia and are demanding from the Australian government to allow the practice of Sharia law here.

    If Sharia law was good why did they live the original countries. Or why don’t they go to the countries that are actively practicing this law instead of trying to change Australian laws.

    What I know from these people, is if you let them to rule the only thing they don’t believe is Democracy.

    Cheers.

    Sharia Laws never in Australia
    Democracy Yes.

  16. 16 Zoezuluzulu

    Onward Christian Soldiers, I say. Pray over our nation as the Kings(Governments) heart is in the hand of the Lord.
    His will be done. May He stamp out and crush any where any time the rise and implementation of Islam, and may any who support the beheadings and atrocities in any way be deported to that land where they support its evils. Psalm 139:19-22
    They that curse the Almighty God of Israel, will be devoured by his anger. Ishmael was not the chosen one, islam comes from that line. The true shep of the Almighty come from Isaac. They are the true sheep, born of God, born again in His covenant.
    Zoe

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