Missing the point

Let Sharia Law govern women’s lives, Amen!


Missing the point
by Azar Majedi

Perhaps Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury thought his statement about Sharia Law will be received enthusiastically as well-intended and an effort to reduce racial tensions in the society. However, his proposal got him into trouble. He was attacked from right and left. Those who saw their “white Christian culture” under threat asked for his resignation. Women rights activists, secularists and such like attacked him for the negative effects of Sharia Law on human rights, particularly the disastrous effects of such a practice on women in so-called Muslim communities. In response to harsh criticism he tried to qualify his proposal by stating that he did not mean the whole Sharia Law, but in family matters. He has just missed the point.

The status and rights of women in Islam is the Achilles hill of this religion, and I must add, ideology. Misogynism is the trade mark of Islam. The veil is its banner and gender apartheid its main pillar. Moreover, today a very active reactionary political movement has based its ideology on Islam, namely political Islam. Anywhere they gain power they first and foremost victimize women, strip them of all their rights, force them under the veil and segregate them in society. The same movement that laments lack of tolerance for Sharia law in western societies is terrorizing the population in societies under its rule to obey Sharia Law, observe the veil and gender apartheid and punishes the defiant by flogging, cutting their limbs and execution.  

One main reason to oppose Sharia law is the way it treats women. Rowan Williams’ promise that he only means the family code of Sharia law is no comfort to any woman living under the threat of losing her rights, nor to any girl who is frightened by “honor violence,” forced marriage and veiling. In fact it only exposes his ignorance.  

It may be argued that the Archbishop’s intention is to combat racism. Let us examine whether the Archbishop’s proposal is anti-racist. One might argue that he has taken Muslim’s demands and culture into consideration, particularly when Muslims are increasingly being stigmatized. This assumption is false. Historically, the fight against racism has meant fighting for equality not for differentiating; equality before the law and in social, economic and political sphere. Anti-racism has been about integration not segregation. The civil rights movement in America was not about creating a set of different laws for blacks, but treating blacks and whites equally. The essence of long battle against racial apartheid in South Africa was to create one system and one law for all citizens, which treated them equally.  

However, it is not only the Archbishop who espouses this upside-down approach to racial equality. This is a political trend. For this trend the meaning of anti-racism has changed from equality to differentiation, from integration to segregation. We owe this falsification to post modernism, which gave rise to cultural relativism and eventually giving such high socio-political status to the concept of multi culturalism in this deformed interpretation of it.  

Some misled section of the “intelligentsia,” academia and political institutions have played a significant role in defending these concepts as progressive, libertarian, egalitarian and anti-racist. Reactionary political forces, such as political Islam have been the only beneficiaries of this trend. For decades gross violations of human rights in societies under Islam were neglected and even justified by these mal-formulated theories. Only when these brutal practices made an inroad into western societies in the form of terrorism, particularly after September 11, some outcries began to be heard.  

Multiculturalism is racism; cultural relativism is racism; this should be recognized once and for all. By defining different laws for different citizens on the basis of such arbitrary concepts such as culture or religion, we leave the lot of the weakest sections of that so-called “cultural community” to the mercy of the self-imposed leaders of that community. We deprive these weakest sections the protection of the law and society. Women under Islam are down trodden and deprived of any rights. Leaving them under Sharia law will only victimize them further.

There are many fallacies involved in such an approach. One which is seemingly very liberal is the assumption that members of the “Muslim communities” will voluntarily resort to Sharia law. If Muslim women or children had any choice or voice, they would tell the Archbishop, to keep these proposals to himself. The question of choice is non-existent in a hierarchical and deeply male chauvinist community. Allowing Sharia Law to be practiced will cut off the poor voiceless women from any protection and make life much more difficult for the young women who struggle with backward traditions at home.

Giving the Archbishop’s intention the benefit of the doubt is the best case scenario. The other, to my opinion most probable scenario is that he is cunningly trying to strengthen the grip of religion and religious institutions on the society as a whole. By assigning a stronger position to Islam in “Muslim Communities” he is trying to foster the position of the church and Christianity in the wider society. If one accepts the role of Islam and Islamic laws in one community, by the same token, they should accept the role of Christianity and Church of England in the larger community. His defence of Sharia Law is a clever step towards revitalizing the role of Church in the wider society.  

And finally, as a veteran women’s rights activist and one who has suffered first hand under a brutal Islamic state, as an activist who has fought hard against Islam and political Islam for liberty and equality, I am very indignant by Rowan Williams’ proposal. We do not need to establish Sharia law in any form or shape. We need a secular, free society, free from racism, misogynism and inequality. We need to rid the society from religion and religious establishment, be it Muslim, Christian, Judaism or the like. 

Azar majedi founded the Organization for Women’s Liberation - Iran in November 2002, and at present is acting as its chair.


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K Nassery


by K Nassery on

Women should be free to make the choice to practice Sharia or not. Unfortunately, family members are forcing their beliefs on women living under their control.  At those times, the state has to protect women from their own families. 

I don't think Sharia law should be accepted in the West.  Those who wish to practice this should return to their homelands where such practices are accepted.  The practices of honor killings are horrific...  No Western nation should allow such murders.  Where's the compassion and forgiving under Sharia.. It seems to be the harshest of all religious practices.

No one has the right to live in another country.  You are a guest who must follow the rules.  At least, that's what I am told when I protest the rules Iran would put on my head if I just want to visit.



Cultural relativism - this

by Liberal fascism (not verified) on

Cultural relativism - this era's fascism
Maryam Namazie
Speech given at a forum on women’s rights
November 28, 1998
Toronto, Canada

* In Germany, in August 1997, an 18-year-old woman was burnt to death by her father for refusing to marry the man he had chosen. A German court gave him a reduced sentence, saying he was practicing his culture and religion.

* In Iran, women and girls are forcibly veiled under threat of imprisonment and lashes, and cultural relativists say that it is their religion and must be respected.

* In Holland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that Iran’s prisons are “satisfactory for third world standards," allowing the forcible return of asylum seekers.

Cultural relativism serves these crimes. It legitimizes and maintains savagery. It says that people’s rights are dependent on their nationality, religion, and culture. It says that the human rights of someone born in Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan are different from those of someone born in the United States, Canada or Sweden.

Cultural relativists say Iranian society is Muslim, implying that people choose to live the way they are forced to. It's as if there are no differences in beliefs in Iran, no struggles, no communists, no socialists, and no freedom-lovers. If so, why have 150,000 people been executed for opposing the Islamic Republic of Iran? If it’s the entire society's culture and religion, why does the Islamic regime need such extensive tools for repression? If it’s people’s beliefs, why does the regime control their private lives - from their sexual activities, to what video they watch, to what music they listen to? If the entire society is Muslim, why did Zoleykhah Kadkhoda enter a voluntary sexual relationship for which she was buried in a ditch and stoned? If it is people's culture, why did the residents of Bukan revolt against the stoning and save her life? Why are thousands of women rounded up in the streets for “improper” veiling if its their culture and religion? How come, after two decades of terror and brutality, the universities are still not Islamic, according to an official of the regime? Though it's untrue, even if every person living in Iran had reactionary beliefs, it still wouldn’t be acceptable. If everyone believes in the superiority of their race, does that make it okay?

Cultural relativists say that we must respect people's culture and religion, however despicable. This is absurd and calls for the respect of savagery. Yes, human beings are worthy of respect but not all beliefs must be respected. If culture allows a woman to be mutilated and killed to save the family “honor,” it cannot be excused. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, religion rules and has become the mass murderer of people. If religion says that women who disobey should be beaten, that flogging is acceptable, and that women are deficient, it must be condemned and opposed.

The struggle against misogynist and reactionary governments is inseparable from the struggle against reactionary and misogynist beliefs. Of course individuals have the right to their own beliefs, however offensive, but freedom-lovers are duty bound to expose and condemn reactionary beliefs and relegate them to the garbage cans of history.

Cultural relativists go further to say that universal human rights are a western concept. How come when it comes to using the telephone or a car, the mullah does not say it is western and incompatible with an Islamist society? How come when it comes to better exploiting the working class and making profits, technological gains are universal? But when it comes to universal human rights, they become western. Even if rights are western, it is absurd to say that others' are not worthy of them. In fact, though, rights are gains forcibly taken by the working class and progressive social movements. Therefore, any gain or right obtained anywhere is a gain and a right for all humanity.

Some, even among the "left" say that exposing reactionary beliefs serves racism. Opposing the rape of a nine year old girl who is forcibly married does not serve racism. Opposing the sexual abuse of a child even though the Islamic Republic of Iran's court says the father was forced to abuse the child because his wife did not satisfy him, does not serve racism - just like opposing anti-Semitism doesn't make one a Zionist. Culture for the sake of culture is not sacred. Racism and fascism also have their own cultures. A culture that cannot defend human beings to live a better life is worthless.

Struggling for universal human rights means condemning and disrespecting reactionary beliefs. The struggle against dominant reactionary ideas is a struggle against the ideas of the ruling class. After all, the ruling class must justify the barbarism of capitalism. It must make the intolerable seem tolerable and natural. It must create differences to facilitate profit. Cultural relativism serves that purpose. The idea of difference has always been the fundamental principle of a racist agenda. The defeat of Nazism and its biological theory of difference largely discredited racial superiority. The racism behind it, however, found another more acceptable form of expression for this era. Instead of expression in racial terms, difference is now portrayed in cultural terms. Cultural relativism is this era’s fascism. Cultural relativists are defenders of this era's holocausts.

In an era of unprecedented barbarity we must defend the universal rights of human beings who daily hope for freedom and equality. Though a better life is only possible when this world is turned right side up, anyone who respects humanity must immediately struggle for the abolition of all backward and reactionary beliefs which are incompatible with human freedom and progress and a secular and modern society for all.


maria cerankowski you sound like Rosi T!!!???

by Pary (not verified) on

It does not matter who you are ,My question to you is that :Do you think a muslim woman would chose to be stoned ,or have a preferance for her husband to have 3 more wives,or her daughter being sanitized by hounor killing???

Really,you said you are a feminist!!!!!For women rights!!!! do you think she would choose sharia law????
Please honey, take your nose out of muslim women's rights!!!!


Why would Archbishop want Sharia law????

by Tahirih (not verified) on

To me it is not anti racism,or wanting to have a multicultural society.


I think that Archbishop may kind of tingle by the tought of having the same power and status as the Islamic clergy.And he is testing waters!!!
Otherwise no one in free society would want to bring stoning and houner killing back.


Azar Majedi is an anti-Semite / anti-Semitic communist

by Maria Cerankowski (not verified) on

Azar Majedi called me "perverted" because I pointed out, respectfully, that her values do not fit political liberalism.

It had occurred to me that her views are similar to the type of anti-religion totalitarianism practiced in the Soviet Union.

Having now researched Majedi, I see that indeed Azar Majed is a communist and an anti-Semite. Of course, not all communists are bigoted extremists. Some communists have humanitarian tendencies. But it appears that Azar Majedi is an anti-Semitic communist who would have felt most at home in the era of Stanlin.

I would still recommend that Azar Majedi read some Locke, Rawls, and Jefferson to learn about the concepts of freedom and the rights of minorities.

M. C.

P.S. Anybody who calls for the wiping out of Jewish tradition is an anti-Semite. Therefore, Azar Majedi is an anti-Semite.


About Misogynist Maria Cerankowski

by IranianFeminist (not verified) on

S(he) is indeed a perverted misogynist person, promoting oppressive patriarchal laws for women. There are some "minorities" who are for slavery. Should we allow them to practice slavery because we need to be pluralistic? I think not.

Islamic laws are based on the concept of woman as half of a man, a slave, a sexual object, an inferior and irrational being. No civilized society should allow any of its citizens to have the OPTION of being humiliated and degraded, even when it's CHOSEN by a minority of masochistic individuals such as Maria Cerankowski.


Liberalism & Religious & Cultural Minorities

by Maria Cerankowski (not verified) on

What Azar Majidi is proposing is, in effect, totalitarianism. This is the sort of totalitarianism practiced under the Soviet Union, i.e. it is of the atheistic anti-religious variety. It leaves absolutely zero latitude for minorities.

Liberalism is in large part about the rights of minorities. To learn more about Western liberalism, please refer to the works of John Stewart Mill, John Locke, and Rawls.

Even traditionalist, closed societies (like the Ottoman millet system) gave minorities more latitude than Azar Majidi is willing to give them.

programmer craig

Maria Cerankowski

by programmer craig on

I believe Muslim/Jewish/etc. women and men who wish to live under
conservative laws of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance)
should be given the opportunity.

Why? Why should they have an "opportunity" to have a set of laws that is not in compliance with the norms of the society they live in?

In the West, when we talk about "Muslim family law," we aren't talking
about forcing it on entire communities. What we're talking about is
giving the people the OPTION to have their dispute adjudicated based on
a legal system different from that of the dominant culture. If a man or
woman who doesn't like that option, it won't be forced on him/her. This
is a win-win situation.

No, actually it's not, because if "the community" decides that it wants to have Sharia law and a woman decides she doesn't wnat to comply with it, her chances of ever finding a husband are very slim. Therefore, she will "voluntarily" comply. Won't she? And before you suggest taht she can leave the community and marry somebody from the oputside, you need to know that Muslim women are not permitted to marry non-Muslim men, so leaving the community isn't really an option for most.

You seem to be living in a perfect world where everything always goes the way it should.


When Europe was more

by Anonymousq (not verified) on

When Europe was more priest-ridden than it is now, it was very like much of the modern Islamic world. It is a deep tragedy that we have not all moved forward together. The only way this can be achieved is through secularism - the first plank of which is the absolute protection of the right to faith, and the second is the insistence that faith remain excluded from the public sphere - legislation and the law should not have a religious test ever, not for those involved in it and not for its precepts.


Canadian Women's Rights

by Bravo Canada (not verified) on

Canadian Women's Rights Activist Homa Arjomand says Rowan Williams should quit!
Homa Arjomand is the founder and coordinator of the International Campaign Against Shariah Courts.
AKI reported today on Homa's thoughts on Rowan Williams:

Islamic courts must be be ruled out in Britain and other Western countries if the democratic rights of all their citizens are to be safeguarded, Iranian born activist Homa Arjomand, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Homa Arjomand spearheaded a successful campaign to end faith-based arbitration in Canada.

She strongly disagreed with remarks made earlier in February by the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who claimed that Islamic (Sharia) courts in Britain seemed "inevitable" and could aid "social cohesion".

Arjomand told AKI that adopting Sharia courts, promoting Islamic schools and Islamic centres would be giving in to political Islam.

She said such courts would deny immigrant women equality with men and increase discrimination towards them, as well as the religious and racial segregation of minorities.

"It is the state's duty to look after the well-being of all citizens, including women and children from so-called Islamic communities," said Arjomand, who is a secular Muslim.

The failed experience of faith-based courts in Canada , where Arjomand lives, demonstrated the need for a single legal system that treats all individuals equally, she said.
Homa Arjomand and members of No Shariah Organization successfully defeated the Shariah Courts movement in Canada.



Catholic courts do not hold

by Not Anonymous (not verified) on

Catholic courts do not hold sway over the secular courts, neither do the jewish ones nor Hindu ones. Introduction of sharia as equal with secular courts does not make sense in Western Country because majority of sharia family rules clash with the secular law present in England.

Introducing sharia also means pressure on muslim men and women to conform to the rules of Islam and geting further from democratic laws, secular institutions and secular principles prevailing in the land.
Catholic adoption agencies are not the part of the government however sharia jurisdiction will be part of the law for English subjects.
There is a large difference between private adoption agencies and the legal courts. One is not equal to the other.

Pretty soon, the Catholic churches and Jewish temples will require their own courts within the secular system. It is a slippery slope.


An Iranian man and his buddy

by sad (not verified) on

An Iranian man and his buddy stoned the man's 14 year-old daughter to death after suspecting that she was having a relationship.
AKI reported:

A man known as Sharif has reportedly stoned his fourteen-year-old daughter to death in southeastern Iran because for allegedly having a relationship with a man.

Sharif's wife reported him to police after he and a friend killed the girl in Zahedan, capital of Baluchistan province.

Sharif showed no sign of remorse, telling police who interrogated him: "I suspected that my daughter had a relationship with a man and I had to stone her to death as she had besmirched my honour."

"I had no other choice," he said, telling police how he had carried out the stoning.



The Shari'a in the West: an Option.

by Maria Cerankowski (not verified) on

I believe Muslim/Jewish/etc. women and men who wish to live under conservative laws of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance) should be given the opportunity. I'm a feminist myself, but I don't like the idea of shoving feminism down the throat of unappreciative individuals. Let people live as they wish to live.

In the West, when we talk about "Muslim family law," we aren't talking about forcing it on entire communities. What we're talking about is giving the people the OPTION to have their dispute adjudicated based on a legal system different from that of the dominant culture. If a man or woman who doesn't like that option, it won't be forced on him/her. This is a win-win situation.

The analogy to this is the fact that Jews and Christians in certain Muslim countries are allowed to apply their own laws of personal status and use alcohol, even though it's forbidden to the larger society.

In short, I support pluralism, and I oppose the tyranny of liberalism, which would be a perversion of liberalism. Liberalism is fundamentally about pluralism anyway.