This post, “English Citizens Increasingly Turning To Sharia Courts,” by noted Law Prof. Jonathan Turley is a little short (well a lot) short on substance but it basically says many Muslims in England are “circumventing the court system in favor of Islamic courts and Sharia law.” He goes on to say this is proper in a free society “citizens should be allowed to resolve their own disputes through private mediation or religious adjudications,” and further points out that this is nothing new as the Jewish community often turns to the Temple and that Catholics take many disputes to the church. He does offer a concern:
While I support the right to these people in seeking justice from Sharia courts as a private matter, I will not hide my concern. It represents a further separation from society for Muslim families and a further compartmentation of parts of society into insular communities. Civil courts should represent part of our collective covenant to live in a unified legal system. Another concern is that it can reinforce those who oppose separation of church or mosque and state. With quasi-courts meting out faith-based justice, many are likely to seek other expression of religious doctrine in laws and policies.
Okay, so, we are concerned with the power of law as a power of a “state,” or the power of a religion, or the power of communal body–all consenting to be “ruled.”
It seems to me as if communal faith tends to bind groups of people in meaningful ways that the power of the state (one without an official religion) does not. And by this I mean it binds people to the law, to the faith, and to the community.
While I agree with Turley that a primary concern must be what seems a rather ruthless continuation of abject treatment of women in many religions, I am not so sure that I can easily find fault with a community of freely assembled people to agree to legal prescripts that conform with their other “life beliefs.” I in no way believe any mistreatment of women and girls under very repressive religious law is just. But I am saying that we are far afield from any true notion of justice in the US. And in many ways we are as draconian in the application of penalties for other minorities if not women generally. Nary a stoning here, but we can arrange a gang rape in prison if you like. Perhaps we can agree that our courts abuse our black men the way that Sharia Law abuses women. Is there an equivalency here?
In the main we talk about God but pray to property and that, friends, Romans, countrymen, has no allegiances to community.
Our laws, our lawyers, our judges, our legal representatives continue to push private economic “solutions” onto us, most recently in our education system via expansion of voucher programs and corporate charter companies. Our corporations will be given legal access to treat our children like a commodity market.
Our CEOs, our billionaires, our governors, generals and private mercenaries all stand above and outside the law. As the most angry and righteous blogger in the country, Arthur Silber, has pointed out, he would be prosecuted far more severely for lifting a chocolate chip cookie off a bakery counter than our private and military torture operatives or Wall Street thieves (Corzine and MF Global anyone?) would for bankrupting whole countries and murdering and maiming thousands of children.
As we’ve seen our President unilaterally murder US citizens without, to say the least, due process, what makes us think there is a legal code of justice we could even begin to believe in?
Where can we stand and be considered fairly?
Not in a US Court of Law, that’s for sure. Not in a Military Tribunal.
In a Sharia Court? In the Temple? The Church?
I seriously might take that chance.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Narvey