Sharia law in operation
IN PLACES where the long arm of the law struggles to reach, a second arm gathers strength and tightens its grip on willing and unwilling victims, mostly women.
In some Australian suburbs it is no longer a case of one law for all as Sharia-style dispensation of justice is quietly executed in Australian mosques on a daily basis.
An Australian imam has openly said he is doing just that in Sydney mosques every day.
Sheikh Haisam Farache, who is being trained by Legal Aid as a culturally and linguistic diverse mediator, said this role “formally recognises what he’s been doing for years” – applying Sharia to arbitrate family disputes and avoid(ing) a long and painful journey through the court system. 1
Sheikh Farache said he had been applying Sharia during stints as an imam at Artarmon and Lakemba mosques, where he typically facilitated “two or three mediations a day”.
He believes “Sharia has been playing out in the Australian Family Court” since mediation was introduced into the Family Court system in 2005.
Though it is flagged as a mediation process to resolve family disputes, there is a very real concern that we may have a repeat of the situation which Britain faces, and is now trying to rectify.
The poor treatment of Muslim women in that country is so extensive that a Member of the House of Lords, Baroness Caroline Cox, has introduced a bill to strengthen the law’s ability to regulate sharia courts and force them to comply with anti-discrimination law.
Baroness Cox has said: “We cannot sit here complacently in our red and green benches while women are suffering a system which is utterly incompatible with the legal principles upon which this country is founded.”2
Could we be doing the same thing in Australia by assuming that Sharia law will not and is not operating in this country?
It seems clear that forms of Sharia mediation or arbitration are already at play in this country, and though no-one would question the need for cultural and linguistic assistance for those facing a court process, it seems likely that Muslim women in Australia will be facing the same forms of manipulative gender-biased discrimination which are enshrined in many variations of Islamic marriage laws.
In Britain, Sharia councils are legally able to deal with some areas of arbitration, but they are dispensing their sharia version of “justice” far beyond what is legitimate.
Those who suffer the consequences are invariably Muslim women and children.
Baroness Cox authored a 41-page report entitled A Parallel World: Confronting the abuse of many Muslim women in Britain Today. 3
In her introduction she states: “I have sat and wept with those who are oppressed, abused and treated as second class citizens. One Muslim woman told me: “I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from”.”
The report outlines numerous examples of women who must battle a form of justice most in the Western World would find extremely abhorrent.
In one example, a woman who was raped and abused over many years by the cousin she was forced to marry at the age of 16, faced intimidation and refusals when she sought a Sharia council divorce. Her UK Court protection orders were regarded as irrelevant, and though she was in fear of her life she was told to attend mediation.
Another woman had a husband who physically abused her during pregnancy and afterwards. When she sought a divorce, she was told by the Imam that, even though her husband was extremely violent, she could not get a divorce without his permission.
There are many cases of women living in polygamous marriages, because Islamic laws allow a man to have four wives but a woman may only have one husband.
The examples of abuse by husbands, followed by discrimination and intimidation from imams, go on and on.
This is not an attack on religious freedom of expression. This is about Muslim women who are Australian citizens being able to enjoy complete freedom and access to the law.
It is also about confronting an issue which is in danger of being ignored due to its sensitivity.
If the legal arm wrestle is left to play out uncontested, will the long arm of Australian law prevail or will the misogynistic arm of Sharia hold back and repress the Muslim women of Australia?
Sharia law applied secretly in Sydney
- THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
- MAY 18, 2011
SHARIA law is already being practised in western Sydney, with hundreds of religious divorces granted by imams.
But a sheik and Muslim leaders yesterday said sharia law was already being used to end hundreds of marriages a year. Sharia law is also being used by imams in cases of business disputes and neighbourhood fights.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils also asked the Government to fund halal and koshermeat outlets and even Muslim schools and for state schools to have special sports uniforms for female Muslim students.
“If the Government and politicians cannot recognise this as essential, it should no longer accuse the Australian Muslim community of intentionally living in enclaves,” the submission said.
Sheik Moussaab Legha, from the Islamic Welfare Centre in Lakemba, said panels of imams oversaw hundreds of sharia divorces at a mosque in Greenacre.
They first try to persuade the couple to stay married, Sheik Legha said.
If a woman pursues a divorce in the Family Court but is not religiously divorced under sharia, the Muslim community and countries with sharia law still see her as married.