It’s not often that I give the words of the disingenuously shambolic Boris Johnson an awful lot of thought, really. He has occasionally given me a good laugh and there’s no doubt that he’s a lot smarter than he lets himself appear to be.
But a post on Facebook by the excellent Eu Citizens for an Independent Scotland brought to my attention one of BoJo’s statements in March, when I was too busy getting jetlagged to really notice. The article is here.
In it, BoJo is reported to have slammed the practice of allowing Sharia courts to have legal validity in the United Kingdom, and he is quite right.
It is totally unacceptable that a ‘legal code’ that treats women as livestock and mandates the execution of apostates, the mutilation of criminals, child marriage and killing anyone who dare criticise it, should be allowed to have influence in a modern, secular democracy.
Sharia is a crude, wicked, misogynistic, patriarchal code that bears all the hallmarks of the savage era that it was written in. Muslims believe that it was handed down from ‘Allah’ to the prophet ‘Mohammed’ via the angel ‘Gabriel’. Because Islam also contains an assertion from ‘Allah’ that no further intimations of his will would be coming to humanity, no part of Sharia can ever be changed.
This is why Islam lives in a time-warp. It’s why it is regarded, rightly, with abject horror by any right-minded person not infected with its nonsense. The truly horrific punishments that are part and parcel of Sharia have no place in a modern secular democracy and even the crimes themselves are absurd. This, remember, is a ‘legal code’ that routinely judicially murders women for having sex outside marriage, to name but one of its obscenities. Sharia prescribes rules for every part of an individual’s life from how they brush their teeth, how and with whom they can have sex with, through how business is to be run to what can and cannot be said.
This is completely at odds with how a secular democracy works, and it is no exaggeration at all to say that most Muslims do not properly grasp what democracy actually is. (The fact that many non-Muslims who live in Western democracies don’t either is deplorable, but of no help here.)
Democracy is not just about voting for who rules your country. This is easy and Muslims can, to an extent, deal with it. However, a far more important part of democracy as it is practised in the West is that it allows us to change our laws in accordance with the view of the majority, and in the context of a changing world view informed by science rather than religious prejudice.
Until only a few decades ago, for example, homosexual men could be imprisoned or chemically castrated and, if we go back to the 19th century, even hanged. And this is in the Christian West. But nobody – or at least nobody sane – thinks like this any more and if there are such people, they are in an isolated and largely ridiculed minority. (At least in Europe and America.)
The same is true across the spectrum of laws. Very few secular democracies now allow judicial murder, for example. Abortion is legal in enlightened jurisdictions. Women are allowed to vote and are no longer considered the property of their husbands – it is not so very long since rape within marriage was legally condoned, even within the UK – would we want to go back to such a situation?
All of these and many other laws have been changed because our populations, as the have become more educated, have become more open to new ideas. We have accepted that we were wrong and we have changed – usually for the better. The old religious certitudes have given way to a more fair and balanced social view that accepts that not everyone is alike and that the law should not be used as an instrument to enforce conformity, but instead as a means to prevent harm and protect the vulnerable.
This is all completely outwith the understanding of Islamic culture because the Sharia ‘legal code’ can never, ever be changed in even the tiniest detail. So the most fundamental tenet of modern democracy – that we can modify our laws in line with a better understanding – is completely unavailable within Islam, and is in fact itself illegal.
Because such a great part of our modern legal framework, in the secular Western democracies, is to protect the vulnerable, Sharia presents a deep challenge which cannot be resolved. Within Sharia, a man’s wives and children are his possessions, his property. Just like his horse – though women have less protection under Sharia than a horse does under democratic law.
Every person who lives within the jurisdiction of a secular democratic state, for example Scotland, England, France, the US, most of the free world, is absolutely entitled to the full protection of that country’s laws.
It is impossible to afford this protection if the legal system in force at national level is forced to co-exist with Sharia. It simply cannot be done and the inevitable result is that groups who would be protected under national law, such as women and children, are thrown to the wolves and have to suffer the unequal and degrading status that Sharia – which regards them as being of less value than the man who ‘owns’ them – metes out.
It is a meaningless sop to the conscience to suggest that people need only submit to Sharia voluntarily. In the UK, which is, lest we forget, what BoJo was talking about, we have allowed ghettoes to grow up where English is not spoken and where the most aggressive forms of Islam are routinely practised. This makes a mockery of the notion of ‘voluntary compliance’. The peer pressure brought to bear upon women by their families and the people around them is such that even if they would far rather not have to submit to Sharia, they have no choice.
Remember, ‘honour killings’ are commonplace amongst Muslim communities. Refusal to accept Sharia is de facto refusal to accept Islam, which in turn is apostasy, and this is the most dishonourable thing a person can do, at least under this benighted death-cult. Indeed Sharia specifically demands that apostates should be killed. So anyone – be that person woman or man – who states that they do not wish their cases to be heard under Sharia is literally asking for their own death.
This completely confounds the central principle of modern law, which is, to state again, that the most vulnerable should be protected. By allowing Sharia courts to operate within the UK we have created no-go zones where the democratically decided laws of the land simply do not apply. This is an atrocious abdication of its own responsibility by the State.
It is perhaps worth mentioning, as an afterthought, that the reason that Sharia courts are allowed to exist within the UK is because of Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister. Blair was never one to put principle before political advantage, and in giving this sop to the hard-line Islamist clerics who desired it, he was doing exactly what has made the Labour Party a laughing-stock: adopting gesture politics in the hope that no-one would notice the moral vacuum that they were designed to gloss over.
Well it is the State’s responsibility to protect the weak and vulnerable, even when the threats they face come from their own families or the religion they ostensibly espouse (though in a cult where one may be killed simply for changing faith, one must ask how much is ‘espousal’ and how much is simple coercion.) It is the State’s responsibility to ensure that the duly decided laws of the land are applied fairly and without exception, to every citizen, without fear or favour. This is why the national laws prevent religiously-deluded parents from denying essential medical treatment to their children.
Sovereignty comes from the people and we accept the State because we recognise that the protections it affords to everyone are a worthwhile counterbalance to both the cost of its upkeep and the restrictions it places upon us. But just as we must all pay our taxes, so must the State carry out its duty of protection to all who live within its jurisdiction. The existence of Sharia courts makes this impossible.
Permitting Sharia to exist in the UK is therefore a gross and wilful dereliction of the duty of the State. And BoJo, for all his other faults, was dead right about it.
It is high time these courts were closed and anyone applying, or attempting to apply Sharia in preference to the law of the land, arrested and tried for sedition.
Because that is what it is.