IN A FEBRUARY 26, 2008 article in the Arab liberal e-journal Elaph, Libyan-European liberal thinker and entrepreneur Muhammad 'Abd Al-Muttalib Al-Houni wrote that recent statements by the Archbishop of CanterburyDr. Rowan Williamson implementing shari'a law in Britain constituted dangerous encouragement to fundamentalists in their war against the Enlightenment, adding that such statements could have very grave repercussions for the struggle for freedom in Muslim countries as well. The following are excerpts from Al-Houni's article:
"Also, European countries seeking to implement shari'a would need to submit their reservations regarding any international conventions they may have signed. This is because they will have to:
- Permit polygamy for European Muslim citizens, and not punish them for it – [even though] this is considered criminal under European law;
- Permit European Muslim citizens to beat their wives to discipline them, as the Koran urges;
- Allow men to unilaterally decide to divorce without requiring any court proceedings, as this is a right guaranteed [to men] by shari’a;
- Give daughters [only] half the inheritance rights that sons have, while widows receive only an eighth of the inheritance;
- [Not] consider women’s testimony the equal of men’s in shari’a courts;
- Deprive a divorced woman of custody of her children if she remarries;
- Allow European Muslim citizens to marry in traditional marriages without the need to officially register these marriages;
- Eliminate adoption, since it is contrary to shari’a;
- Force a woman whose Muslim husband converts to another religion to divorce him, because he is an apostate;
- Prevent European Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims…”
- Adopting Shari’a Would Undermine the Concept of Citizenship
"If [Archbishop Rowan's] intention is to introduce some or all of these laws from Islamic shari'a into Europe's legal systems, it would mean the following:
"1) The concept of citizenship in Europe will change. There will be [different] classes of citizenship and of citizens, with some citizens being exempt from having the general law applied to them because they belong to a particular religion or belief. There will be a Muslim [class of] citizen, a Christian [class of] citizen, a Buddhist [class of] citizen, a Confucian [class of] citizen, and so on. Each will apply his own laws... Thus, faith will not be an individual freedom or belief; it will [come to] have extremely serious public ramifications.
"2) If some or all of these laws were implemented and recognized by European legislative bodies, it would not only seriously damage human rights legislation - it would spell the end [of this legislation]. This is because everything I mentioned above is a negation of human rights principles.
"3) Recognizing all, or [even] some, of these laws would take European societies back to the age before the Enlightenment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a result, the West would revert to barbarism."
Is the Anglican Church a Partner in Fundamentalism?
"While I maintain that the European countries will never accede to these catastrophic demandsfor reasons more practical than humanistthe fact that they were proposed by the British archbishop sends the wrong message to the Islamic world. The gist of this message is that there is no contradiction between Islamic shari'a and Western civilization if [shari'a] applies [only] for Muslim citizens.
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