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  Implementation of the Sharia law in Canada

 In today’s speech I would like to focus on two areas. first explain the root of the move which is implementing Shari’a court in Canada. Then update you with the International Campaign Against Shari'a Court by emphasizing the urgency of achieving the separation of religion from the Canadian justice system and the practical steps that should be taken in order to achieve this.

 I am talking as a women's rights activist, as a political activist that has defended freedom and equality, and had fought against a religious dictatorship. I am also talking as a first hand victim religious suppression, as the first hand victim of political Islam. Believe me I know what is it like to live under sharia law and regulation, I have seen years of assassination of opponents of political Islam inside and out side Iran , years of suppression and brutal murder of the most passionate and progressive people among them girls and  women who resisted sharia rule and sexual apartheid. You don't know what is like to count the seconds for the newspaper to come up every morning so that you could search for the familiar names, the ones who were missing for days and months, as they used to announce the names of the executed ones on newspaper.

 When I first heard about the formation of Islamic Institute of Civil Justice” or Sharia court in Canada, Immediately could link it to the political Islam. As you know by now, Political Islam is against secular and progressive movement for liberation, and it is against cultural and intellectual advances. We recognize this move, it has link in Iran, Algeria, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. It is the same move that forces young girls to wear Borgheh in Sweden and Germany or resisted banning religious symbols from state and schools in franc.  We recognize this move. This move is an extension of that movement that stones women to death for adultery and in places where it has state power, exposes a nine year old girl to rape under the name of marriage. It is an extension of that movement that forces the young girls to wear vial and prevents them from happiness, play grounds and swimming pools.  It is an extension to that movement that encourages honor killing even in countries that has no state power. In Canada where they have not much influence and power, they come up on the name of cultural and religion differences to attack secularism, modernism and women’s rights.

 The rise of political Islam was part of the western governments’ policy to defeat radicalism and the progressive movement in the Middle East and North of Africa during the cold war.  It was in Iran that political Islam first organized itself into a government and then turned into a major force in the region. At that time western politician would never have dreamed that, this move would challenge them in the West over its share of power and influence in world.

 After September 11 the leaders of Islamic movement realized that in order to diffuse the western pressure from Middle East they must drive their activities to west. by using multiculturalism and with the help of mainstream media they justified political Islam to “Progressive” and “Reactionary” and in the name of respecting other cultures and religions managed to attack secularism and women’s right through all the West. As result the rate of suicide in women who are living in the communalities which Islam has intense influence increased.  In Canada through the Ontario arbitration Act 1991 political Islam is trying to gain legal credibility. This will not be their only attempt. They have much farther goal. Their aim is to institute Islamic religion in the west. That is why we must recognize this move and build a strong force against it.  We must push for absolute and complete separation of religion from the state and education system; and for religion to be declared the private affair of individuals. Our conscious struggle must be conducted against the power of political Islam.

   As you all know by now, The Campaign against Sharia court in Canada was formed urgently by the international Campaign for the Defense of Women’s rights in Iran. Right from beginning, we wanted to motivate the radical and secular movement which is already present in our society and convert it to a strong force against political Islam.  We started with nothing; while they had great source of financial and political support. We could only rely on progressive and freedom loving people. We knew then and know now that with the help of defender of human rights   we can push any reactionary move.  At first media tried hard to ignore us. They interviewed us for hours but reflected Islamis’ point of view.  Finally the hard work paid off . With the help of network on computer, activists’ articles were sent to over 12 web sides and many net work emails. The Petition on line attracted over 2000 individuals and organizations internationally. More than 300 people attended our panel discussion on March 7th 2004.Media broke the ice and couldn’t resist anymore. They had no choice but to reflect our point of view too. Since then our activists have been interviewed by almost all media and their articles were published in different paper nationally and internationally.  As Mr. John Gragory the Deputy attorney General stated in his comment two weeks ago, because of the International Campaign Against Sharia Court, “the public is now aware”. We have received letters of support internationally from the people who are directly affected by Sharia law to the ones who just became aware of it. We managed to have meeting with ministers in charge.  I can strongly state that we have been successful to resist. But that is not enough, we need to push the government to apply legislative acts and regulations in such away that can over come the present Arbitration Act only then government will be able to protect the individual and civil rights of all citizens living in Canada.      

Adapted from a speech given by Homa Arjomand at the Humanist Association of Ottawa on April 16, 2004, Ottawa-Canada


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