Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Religious law for some

There is a lot of talk on the right, often the American right, about how European states are allowing various aspects of Muslim religious law to be used by Muslim citizens in contravention of national laws - the dreaded Sharia. Criticism is also coming increasingly from the secular left (particularly British-based Iranian communists it would seem!) and the avowedly atheistic. But those who argue that there is a place for such parallel systems in society often cite Beth Din - Jewish law in the UK as a precedent. People argue whether this is a good parallel or not, but listening to From Our Own Correspondent at the weekend, they seemed to demonstrate an alternative parallel - polygamist Mormons in the US.

I watched a few episodes of Big Love when it started, but found it a bit boring - but I presumed that it was stretching fact to make good fiction. The only polygamists I had heard about were the really crazy ones like Warren Jeffs who married 80 women, lived in a 'compound' and was wanted by the Feds (he got caught and got 10 to life). But FOOC went to Utah (and watch the film clip at the top) where possibly 40,000 people are living in polygamist families. And they're not in the slightest bit shy about explaining how and why they break the law. Nor does the law seem very bothered about trying to stop them, seeming to take the position that there are simply too many of them to prosecute (it hasn't ever stopped the US govt. from trying to prosecute, say, drug users). The polygamists are campaigning to have polygamy legalised - FOOC quotes one sympathetic politician, Ric Cantrell (who appears to be "Chief Deputy of the Utah State Senate"), a Republican, saying:
"Your patriotism is unquestionable"... "and your faith inspiring. You have no hesitation to put God's law above the law of the state with a propensity toward civil disobedience and I find that very American."
Would it be so American if they were Muslim or Sikh or Jewish?

51 comments:

KGS said...

Hi Toby,

Anyone who puts their religious laws above the laws of their own state, are not patriotic in any sense of the word.

But let us put things into proper perspective here, before we mix the apples too much with the oranges. The Mormon issue is more amusing than relevant, since the main issue here is about polygamy, while the issue with Sharia is about an all encompasing societal system that in its full implementation, effects not only its followers but non-Muslims as well.

Neither Mormon or Islamic law should be tolerated in any degree, but lets be realistic, Islamic sharia is the far worse system of the two.

Those who bring up Beth Din courts as a comparison to Islamic law courts are treading on very thin ice. What the Islamic courts are aiming for are legal functions for their courts, something which is not delegated to the Beth Din courts.

Beth Din courts are a arbitration service in much the same way as in many secular services, which is not what those in the Islamic communities who are demanding. They want the ability to issue a ruling that the state cannot over turn, or at least with some some degree of difficulty.

What's at stake here is equality before the law, and whether it's Mormon polygamy or even worse, Islamic sharia, the female is garaunteed to come up with the short end of the stick.

And once the West begins to flirt with such a scheme, it will most certainly open the floodgate for even more demands. Besides, how can a civil court ever be sure that in a sharia ruling, the female did in fact want her brother to have 2/3 of her inheritance, without having a letter of greivance submitted to them in the first place?

The idea of parallel systems is wrong, and sharia is in fact, to be dreaded, especially if you don't happen to be a religious srtaight male.

Your Neighbour said...

Why so fussy about Sharia? There are parallel legal systems all over the place.

Professional football (soccer, if you must) has established a complex system of laws that are enforced by a parallel arrangement of disciplinary and arbitration tribunals leading all the way to Lausanne. Very occasionally, as with the Bosman ruling, that system of laws comes into conflict with national and international legislative norms, but most of the time there is no conflict at all.

Large businesses frequently settle their disputes by arbitration, and at least in Finland they can also agree that the arbitration decision is final even on points of statute law.

We do not encounter public outrage at the temerity of the sporting or business communities in exercising such legal autonomy, so exactly how does the Islamic community earn this special opprobrium?

Most of the caseload of Sharia courts tends to be divorce proceedings. The crucial point of these cases is that both parties to them are keen to remain good muslims, regardless of the reasons for divorcing one another. In effect, the marriage contract includes a clause stating that any disputes arising from the contract or its dissolution will be finally settled by a Sharia court according to Sharia law. This is precisely parallel to an arbitration agreement concluded between businesses, and it is really hard to see by what right such agreements can be prevented or what business they are of third parties.

The rules on division of marital assets must be understood in the context of the marriage and family system as a whole. It is easy to point to one element in a system (e.g. driving on the right-hand side of the road and going anticlockwise round roundabouts) and then declare that this is an unreasonable and unfair restriction of liberty.

KGS said...

Introducing Islamic law (sharia)with the intention that it will solely pertain to marriage and inheritance issues, into our Western societies as a parallel legal system is very dangerous idea.

Not only will women most certainly be discriminated by these courts, the West's acceptance of such Islamic courts will result in an increased demand by Muslims for more sharia t courts to handle other cases as well.

Football leagues and business contracts have nothing in common with the totalitarian system of sharia where a women's value is deemed less than a man's.

I understand the need to be tolerant towards others, but tolerance should never be considerd an option towards a highly intolerant, supremacist ideology.

Your Neighbour said...

As KGS fails to grasp the logical point about parallel legal orders, there's little point in debating this. There is no need for parallel legal orders to have anything in common with one another aside from their common connection to a more general legal framework. Indeed, they exist purely for specialised purposes, so any similarity of substance between them would either be accidental or result from similarity of function (as in the tail of a fish and the tail fin of a dolphin).

KGS is also denying the principle of freedom of contract, which is somewhat more serious. This principle includes the right to select the law that applies to the contract and the judicial venue. It is therefore quite possible for two companies in Finland (e.g. two banks) to conclude a contract (e.g. a share swap) specifying that English law will govern the contract and that disputes will be heard at arbitration in London under the terms of the 1996 Arbitration Act.

It is equally possible for an Iraqi pizza vendor in Tampere and a Turkish kebab restaurateur in Helsinki to make a contract for the common bulk purchase of Halal foodstuffs that is governed by Sharia law with disputes settled in a Sharia court (to convene in Finland, London or elsewhere).

These arrangements are fully consistent with the Finnish law governing contracts, and their practical outcome could only be challenged in a Finnish court to the extent that they were manifestly unreasonable.

So the question really becomes: should Finland deny freedom of contract to muslims?

That would require special discriminatory legislation, of course, which in turn might require Finland to withdraw from the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations, all of which are peculiarly keen on combating discrimination nowadays.

For descriptions of the kind of thing that Sharia courts actually do in Western countries, I refer to articles recently published in the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/09/uk.religion1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/14/religion.news

As for thin end of the wedge arguments, it has often occurred to me that someone should have whispered in Lenin's ear that the project of World Communism would fail if the Finns ever became independent.

KGS said...

'Your Neighbor' is either oblivious to the facts surrounding sharia law, or he's trying to be purposely ignorant about the impact having sharia law as a parallel legal system.

Either 'Your Neighbor' is oblivious to the fact that sharia is much, much more than just a legal system that can govern contracts between parties, that in many ways effects every aspect of human life, and in many cases working negatively, discriminatorally against minorities, or he's being purposefully ambigious about it, and just wants to confuse the issue.

I suggest 'Your Neighbor' contact attorney, Husein Mohammed, a Kurdish former refugee from Iraq and now a Finnish national, and ask him what he thinks of any aspect of sharia law being introduced into Finland.

Just google his name and it'll lead to his website, his contact details are available there. He'll tell you flat out it's lunacy to even contimplate introducing such nonsense.

Your Neighbor is just plain wrong about sharia, it's NOT like other business contractural arrangements between parties. Once a small part of sharia is 'innocently' introduced into the West, then the rest will follow, sooner or later.

The same goes for scam called Sharia finance.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I know Husein so I can indeed ask him.

"Once a small part of sharia is 'innocently' introduced into the West, then the rest will follow, sooner or later."

I can understand this argument, laws do change, but how will it? What do you think the actual mechanism through which Finnish (or other European law) would be superseded by Sharia as law, rather than as a parallel arbitration system that can not contravene national law? Why would the - what is it? - 98%? of Finnish voters who are not observant Muslims ever vote for parties that would support it? I know I wouldn't and you seem to think of me as an apologist for it somehow.

More likely the result in Europe will be a parallel to the American situation where you have possibly 40,000 people flouting the law in a specific region and local politicians condoning their law breaking presumably as a way of seeking electoral advantage.

KGS said...

Hi Toby, first of all, I obviously do not consider you as an apologist for Islamic law, far from it.

You're however, a person who's highly sceptical over the possibility that such a thing could occur, which is of course a legitamte argument. I am someone who is also well aware at the way things presently stand in Finland, but also wants to ensure that the groundwork for such a scenario is never laid.

If a political analyst in the 40's-50's were to have postulated about the possibility of present current events becoming an eventual reality, like the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury stating that sharia law will become a reality in the UK, or a Dutch poltician spouting the notion that if the demographics do indeed change, and if the majority populace demands Sharia, the Dutch consitution will have to be changed (or something similar to that effect), then the analyst would have found himself extremly marginalized, or even out of a job.

The point I'm getting at is, no one can say with any amount of certainty, what the future will look like, and that once any small portion of Sharia gains acceptence in the West, that it won't unleash even more demands for larger portions of it to be implemented as well, especially if Muslim demographics, no matter how diverse the Islamic community, remains on course with some European states like France and Holland becoming Muslim majority states in the next 25-40 yrs.

Also, I don't know how much Finnish you understand, or whether you watch Finnish TV, but Husein Mohammed made those very remarks on YLE TV2's 'Immigration Night', and said about sharia law "who would want that crazness here in Finland?" One law for all, was his mantra, something of which I applaud him for.

While the current economic downturn might result in a decrease of immigration from areas in the ME and N.africa which are traditional non-democratic/liberal states, EU immigration policies remain unchanged, and will resume once more when the economy re-starts, thereby making the issue of sharia law a very real and ongoing threat/challenge.

You have to ask yourself at some point, where does history show (outside of military successes) in any point in time, when a dynamic Islam came into contact with a non-Islamic culture, that Islam regressed?

One sees a quieted Islam, but only when it's the clear minority and cut off from the greater Islamic Ummah. What's to happen to Europe when you have Turkish leaders advising ex-pat Turks not to intergrate and Morrocan state that deems Holland as its 15th proverance?

We are in for a great challenge as Islamic states becomes increasingly emboldened through the demographic change in Europe. It matters little what the majority of Muslims in Europe think, because it's the money and influence of the Islamic leadership domestic and abroad that matters, not what Husein Mohammed thinks or does.

KGS said...

A few more points concerning sharia and the reasoning of those who demand it.

Jihadists and Islamists everywhere are always fighting for sharia. Not just for Islam, not just for the protection of Muslims, but for the imposition of sharia. The same impulse drives Islamists in both Somalia, Pakistan etc. and in European countries.

It's the same ideology, the same laws, the same supremacism. Allowing for sharia in the West is simply to encourage the supremacist impulse that leads to executions of little girls in Somalia etc. The ideology is all the same.

If either of you disagree, simply explain to me why siyar (Islamic law of nations) and qisas (retaliation) should *not* be considered a part of sharia.

A quote from Majid Khadduri who was an internationally respected diplomat, academic and a practising Muslim.

The Islamic Law of Nations. Shaybani’s Siyar, Baltimore, Maryland 1966: Page 13: The dar al-Islam, in theory, was in a state of war with the dar al-harb, because the ultimate objective of Islam was the whole world. If the dar al-harb were reduced by Islam, the public order of Pax Islamica would supersede all others, and non-Muslim communities would either become part of the Islamic community or submit to its sovereignty as tolerated religious communities or as autonomous entities possessing treaty relations with it.

What safeguards are in place to make sure that doesn't happen here in Europe, especially in light of noted European politicians, civil and non-Muslim religious leaders who have made astounding statements concerning sharia, as well as turning a blind eye to Muslim no-go areas where police and fire and ambulances dare not go with sufficient back up?

Which one of you can produce a *guarantee* that Islam won't resort to its traditional understanding of itself vis-a-vis the non-Muslim host socities, once their numbers reach critical mass?

It's seems to me that the commentor, "Your Neighbor", is asking the rest of us to believe at face value much of what he says, without showing a cintilla of understanding of what sharia actually is.

Your Neighbour said...

Answer the point about freedom of contract, KGS!

All you have offered so far is Islamophobia.

Why is it acceptable to prevent people from freely determining the law governing their private contracts and the judicial venue for settling disputes arising under those contracts?

Exactly WHY is this freedom under Finnish law unacceptable, and exactly HOW would you amend the law?

Toby, you could ask Husein whether he can find any legal objection to the contract clause that I described on 31 March, whereby two moslem caterers seek to arrange their affairs in a form that they can both understand, given the common cultural background to their businesses.

KGS said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I knew it! Islamophobia, that mythical unicorn, pops in its head for a peek afterall!

Listen up Your Neighbor. I have answered ina very honest and upfront way. For some reason you never seem to ask the obvious, why would a Muslim living in Finland, refuse the civil laws of a country they chose to live in, or were granted the opportunity to stay due to being a refugee?

Islamophobia my eye, you're an apologist for sharia, in the raw, and naked for all to see.

Your Neighbour said...

Childish response.

You have no answer to the point that there can be no justification for preventing consenting parties from selecting the law of contract and judicial venue that are best suited to those parties and to the nature of the transaction between them.

Instead, you advocate special legislation targeting the contractual autonomy of certain individuals purely because of their membership of an ethnic group. That simply is Islamophobia in this case, and it's no laughing matter.

The fact is that there are many specialist domains that operate under a considerable degree of autonomy. Some of the tackles made by members of the Finnish national soccer team would otherwise leave those players open to charges of common assault and battery in a Finnish court, but instead of this we respect the right of competitive professional soccer to provide its own system of investigation, review and punishment in such matters. That's why a player who is suspended cannot sue the club, the competition or the sports association for loss of earnings.

To the extent that there is no manifest conflict between the outcome of a formal settlement process and the standards of national legislation, that outcome must be respected and, indeed, enforced by a national court. This applies as much to securities transactions between banks as to disciplinary proceedings in professional sport, deals on commodity purchasing between businesses, or the disposition of marital assets and duties.

This is the law of Finland as it currently stands, based on the principle of freedom of contract with appropriate minimal safeguards such as section 36 of the Transactions Act (Laki varallisuusoikeudellisista oikeustoimista 13.6.1929/228).

There is not the slightest reason to change this. Parties are free to stipulate that their private relations will be governed by Sharia law and that disputes will be heard by a Sharia court. If that freedom offends you, then that is your problem.

KGS said...

Are you for real, or just trying to wind me up? My attempt as humour is in response to your absurd claim of Islamophobia, a non-word if their ever was one.

Your Neighbor: "Instead, you advocate special legislation targeting the contractual autonomy of certain individuals purely because of their membership of an ethnic group. That simply is Islamophobia in this case, and it's no laughing matter."

I have not advocated for any "special legislation", only for the law as it stands to be applied equally for all, we need no other "special courts of law" deciding things for a parallel society. What you are asking for will only lead to the further balkanization of society, and you don't want that now do you?

Your claims of "discriminating against an ethnic group consititutes Islamophobia", is a crock. It's not only a crock, but a contradiction in terms. Islam is a political, military, social, economic ideology in the guise of a religion, and it's most certainly not an ethnic group.

How you come to that conclusion one can only know. The next thing you'll be telling me is that "no Muslim good or bad can be anti-Semitic". Please do tell me that you're not one of those.

So yes, your claim is indeed a laughing matter, very much so.

Finnish law does not allow for a complete set of differing, foreign laws to be set up within its own domain. Why you would be stumping for such a thing is unknown, unless you yourself have something to gain by it.

It more certainly hasn't helped the poor 14 yr old girl married illegally by Chehab Khodr back in 98', nor the hundreds of other illegal Islamic marriages performed in Finland, that most likely were plygamous in nature.

Your kind of thinking is a blow for all civil-liberal liberties and rights that we know of, why you would want a 7th century concept of rules working within a 21C state, that would repeal some of those rights for a small sector of society is beyond me. It's damn repressive and anti-liberal and apartheid like.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

But your point Kenneth is political - fair enough - whilst the other chap's point is legal. I'm no lawyer, and definitely not in Finnish law - but it seems that he says, that people can make any sort of agreement they like as contract, as long as it doesn't contravene civil law.

> Finnish law does not allow for a complete set of differing, foreign laws to be set up within its own domain

You're right, and neither should it - but this isn't happening, and would be unconstitutional if it was. But if two people want to do some sort of deal under their understanding of what Sharia means, as long as that's not illegal, it's (to state the obvious) legal.

If Muslims want to change the law to fit their religious practice, that's of course an issue - in the same way that I disapprove of the Catholic church in Ireland continually lobbying to stop Irish women having control over their bodies. But if people want to organise their own affairs in whatever way, as long as it doesn't contravene Finnish/British/Irish/whatever law, how can denying that not be a contravention of their civil rights?

BTW - what do you think of Sikhs in Britain having exemption from the law that says motorbike riders must wear helmets? Now that's an exception to national law for religious reasons that's been around for donkey's years.

KGS said...

I'm not so convinced that Your Neighbor's motives are purely from a legal perspective, especially since he's taken up the issue of "Islamophobia" and ethnicity as an issue, which was pure bologna to begin with.

What two people do, as long as it's entirely within the framework of the law, is not inquestion, but the legitimzing of the concept of of Sharia in Finland. THAT is very political, in every sense of the word, and should be fought tooth and nail.

And as for the Sikh's, that's something for the Brits to decide, but as far as I'm concerned a non-issue, since Sikss are not currently engaged in a global jihad against the non-sikh infidel and trying toimpose Sikh sharia everywhere they live.

--Kenneth

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

You always seem to presume that if someone isn't in line with your view, they must be totally for the 'other side' - hence questioning Your Neighbour's motives. It seemed to me he was explaining to us how Finnish law works.

> "What two people do, as long as it's entirely within the framework of the law, is not inquestion"

OK - so we agree on that. But therefore how can you object to two businessmen as an example agreeing to their contract being governed by what they agree as Sharia? If footballers can contract under FIFA rules, and Helsinki merchant bankers can contract under English law - then why can't Muslims agree their divorce settlements under sharia, again - as long as that stays within the bounds of secular law?

I definitely don't think European Muslims must have to do this; and to some degree based on my political views I don't think they should, but if it's within the law it seems illiberal to deny them the opportunity if they so wish. Single out some minority group for special treatment in that you deny them rights that others have and surely that is text book discrimination?

Your Neighbour said...

So you have recovered from your childish outburst and have come back to dodging the question, KGS.

You want "the law as it stands to be applied equally for all".

That's plain enough. It means that individuals are free to agree on the laws that govern their private contracts and on the judicial venue for settling disputes. Football associations have laws administered by disciplinary committees and arbitration tribunals. Banks and businesses regularly conclude agreements governed by the law of a third country with disputes settled at arbitration according to that law in a judicial venue that is foreign to both parties.

If the law applies equally to all, as you insist, then moslems must be free to insist that their contracts are governed by Sharia law with disputes settled by a Sharia court.

By suggesting that matters should be otherwise, you are specifically advocating discriminatory legislation. Simple.

Contracts of this kind are not outlawed in Finland, and to this extent Finland already recognises Sharia courts in exactly the same way that it recognises the disciplinary bodies of the Finnish Football Association or arbitration proceedings conducted in London under the 1996 Arbitration Act. The crucial point here is the consent of the parties concerned.

It is arguably possible for a professional footballer to challenge the findings of a disciplinary committee, but the regular Finnish courts will not intervene until a final decision has been issued under the review procedures that exist within the sport itself, and they will decline to interpret the laws of that sport (for example by deciding whether a player should have been sent off, even when this reduces the player's bonuses or career advancement opportunities).

This legal autonomy is similarly recognised for any mutually agreed dispute resolution procedure, regardless of venue or rules. Only if the outcome is contrary to the fundamental principles of Finnish law will the regular courts intervene. The most famous example of such intervention is the Bosman ruling, but intervention of regular courts in autonomous specialised jurisdictions remains extremely rare.

I shall not engage in a debate over semantics and what constitutes an ethnic group. Membership of a religious and cultural collective cannot be grounds for discrimination, however you label it. That's in the Finnish Constitution, which is a shockingly liberal document that might give you further cause for discomfort as you lie awake at night fretting over how moslems enjoy the same freedom of contract as everyone else. My unsolicited advice to you is - deal with it.

KGS said...

The fact is, SHARIA entails far more than what you both are discussing here, that it's an all encompassing system effecting every aspect of human life.

Again, if two people want to make a contract between each other, and call the transaction by whatever name they choose, then there is nothing to be said about it.

It is both ridiculous and counter-productive to allow state sanctioning of the institution of sharia DUE TO ITS HISTORY. You both seem unwilling to engage in thinking about what history has proven time and again, once "sharia" gains hold....it will never stop with business contracts and marital disputes.

Peoples lives are going to be threatened by this, as the Chehab Khodr incident proves. You are not offering an assurances that sharia WILL NOT be used in an anti-liberal wasy, because you can't.

Honsetly, I just don't see why you are entertaining the notion, when the Finnish Tatars have never screamed from such a thing.

The only people asking for this are not "modernist Muslims" but those who view our very own legal system with contempt, why would want to placate their goals to have just a "a bit" of sharia, when you yourselves can't even ensure that it won't eventually become a full sharia in force?

This lawyer talk is nothing but smoke and mirrors to give that system of oppression a measure of credibility. It's the same ideology, the same laws, the same supremacism. Allowing for sharia in the West is simply to encourage the supremacist impulse that leads to executions of little girls in Somalia etc. The ideology is all the same.

And to think that it all started with two kebab vendors wanting to do business under sharia guidelines.

KGS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KGS said...

Your Neighbor has recovered from his childish and foolish outburst of "Islamophobia", a wise development.

Your Neighbor:Contracts of this kind are not outlawed in Finland, and to this extent Finland already recognises Sharia courts in exactly the same way that it recognises the disciplinary bodies of the Finnish Football Association or arbitration proceedings conducted in London under the 1996 Arbitration Act. The crucial point here is the consent of the parties concerned.

Please show one example of a bonified Sharia court that the Finnish state recognizes its rulings? I would love the chance to blog about it.

YN: "I shall not engage in a debate over semantics and what constitutes an ethnic group."

Semantics my eye, it's quite clear what defines an ethnic group, ...it's ethnicity.

You were calling me an "Islamophobe":

YN: you advocate special legislation targeting the contractual autonomy of certain individuals purely because of their membership of an ethnic group. That simply is Islamophobia in this case, and it's no laughing matter."

WRONG. I was talking about an ideology NOT about an ethnic group, I could care less about their ethnicity and from where they hail.

That is why TOBY, I call into question YN's motives...since he/she is so easily moved to use the "Islamophobia" charge, a highly disingenuous term if there ever was one.

Again, Sharia as an institution, due to its history, and being an all incompassing nature and its grand design, is something we shouldn't be giving state sanctioning to, in any shape or form. No to sharia courts and the anti-liberal rulings that would naturally come from it.

Your Neighbour said...

You have offered no refutation, KGS.

Nobody mentioned history as grounds for anything. Nor is History even required for recognising a dispute resolution procedure agreed between contracting parties.

The Finnish State certainly recognises divorces granted by the Sharia Court in Leyton, East London. Are you suggesting that it should not?

An ethnic group is defined by "its ethnicity". Have you ever considered taking a course in logic, KGS? For a less transparent example of circular definition, try "opium is a soporific because it puts people to sleep".

BTW it is incorrect to equate a religious and cultural tradition with an ideology or to reduce it to such. This is like saying that Finns do not eat maggots because of their ideology, and that they might begin doing so simply by changing their opinions about such dietary preferences.

KGS said...

Gee Toby, I hope you're not holding onto the thought that Your Neighbor isn't who I think he/she is. We got a real live sharia supporter on our hands...using every means in the book to obfuscate the issues.

OK:

Ethinicity: Pertaining to race; peculiar to a race or nation; ethnological. Also, pertaining to or having common racial, cultural, religious, or linguistic characteristics, esp. designating a racial or other group within a larger system; hence (U.S. colloq.), foreign, exotic.
b ethnic minority (group), a group of people differentiated from the rest of the community by racial origins or cultural background, and usu. claiming or enjoying official recognition of their group identity. Also attrib.
n[oun]

First and foremost, ethnicity pretains to race, or a nation. Since Muslims hail from a host of different racial groups and nations and languages and cultural backgrounds. Islam is therefor not an ethnicity nor is it a religion first, but a political entity that encompasses all ascpects of societal life, not only upon the Muslim, but upon the NON-MUSLIM AS WELL. DHIMMITUDE.

HISTORY is very much important to the discussion, for understanding it gives or takes away for support of such a anti-lberal system. You obviously do not want to mention Islamic history because in doing so...cast the whole Islamic sharia project into a very dark light.

YN: "The Finnish State certainly recognises divorces granted by the Sharia Court in Leyton, East London. Are you suggesting that it should not?"

I doubt seriously that Finnish law recognizes Sharia court verdicts, but does recognize these same divorces recognized by the British courts who ok'd them.

And NO. If in fact the only authority involved in these divorces were sharia courts, then not under any circumstances should they be recognized by a Finnish court.

Due to the inequality between the sexes under Sharia misogynist laws.

NY: "BTW it is incorrect to equate a religious and cultural tradition with an ideology or to reduce it to such."

That is a laughable and very outrageous claim. And you dare to arrogantly make fun of my ethnicity misstep. ok.

Ibrahim Cooper from CAIR, the US based Islamic pressure group would dare to disagree with you.

Check it out Toby, at the 4:30 minute mark.

Ibrahim Cooper: "Islam is not a race but an ideology."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu-c4CA-Iu4

It makes YN's comment as farcical as it is disigenuous.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Why so fussy about Sharia? There are parallel legal systems all over the place.

Yes, Jewish and other parallel legal systems exist just fine. To take the Jewish tradition as an example: They firmly believe in 'secularism', that is, the state should be secular. An uprising in 150 BC happened precisely because the king of Israel wanted to be supreme priest, too.

Sharia is special in that it doesn't permit for secularism, it doesn't permit for any reforms in the modern sense, and it implements a totalitarian theocratic regime.

I think that's bad.

I'm sure others will disagree with me, not least those benefiting from a system of this kind - primarily the clergy, that is.

Further, Sharia discriminates against women and against non-Muslims, implementing a apartheid-like system (dhimmitude) that is not suitable in a modern world.

I think that's bad, too.

Also in this case, I'm very confident that some will differ with my point of view, not least those on the profiting side of the system. We spent lots of effort bringing down the original Apartheid system in South Africa and should not passively permit the introduction of a new one, right into our own societies.

Let those who stand to benefit from such systems explain their benefits clearly. Then it will be more obvious that Sharia is bad.

Henrik R Clausen said...

BTW it is incorrect to equate a religious and cultural tradition with an ideology or to reduce it to such.

Really? I thought Islam was first and foremost defined from its book, with the prime occupation of Islamic scholars being reading these books and trying to explain the ideas contained therein, trying to make them into a coherent whole, and using them to give people clear ideas of what they should think, say and do.

I think this qualifies eminently as an ideology. A totalitarian one too, but that's sortof beside the point.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

> Gee Toby, I hope you're not holding onto the thought that Your Neighbor isn't who I think he/she is.

I have no idea who you think he or she is.

It would also seem to be disingenuous to not accept that in Europe, Islam is something like 95%+ a religion of ethnic minorities and immigrants and therefore there are plenty of people who use criticism of Islam as a cover for racism. Not all, but some - would you not agree? In fact I think it was you who told me about some in counter-Jihad circles who are suspicious of the BNP for exactly that reason.

KGS said...

Well Toby, you said: "You always seem to presume that if someone isn't in line with your view, they must be totally for the 'other side' - hence questioning Your Neighbour's motives. It seemed to me he was explaining to us how Finnish law works."

So of course I mean that he is on the other side, I have made that pretty clear, why is it that you are unclear of who I think YN represents?

The BNP is still on wavers due to their past, and must be more convincing, in much of the same way that the Vlaams Belang and the Swedish Democrats have been over the years.

Sadly the Finnish Greens party for example, and many SDP parties in Europe can't even come close to the VB or the SD in their views towards Jews and Israel.

Being anti-fundamentalist Islam is not a racial issue, and those whom I know would not have anything to do with those who make it a racial issue. So no, the claim that being against sharia and Islam as an ideology, is a racial ethnic issue, does not pass the smell test.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

> Being anti-fundamentalist Islam is not a racial issue,

Totally agree with you - but that wasn't quite what I asked.

The BNP have plenty of members (and indeed leaders) who are holocaust denying, former-skinhead shit kickers who have blighted the lives of British people for years - black, white, brown, Jewish, female and gay. If anyone can get past that they are a hell of lot more forgiving than me. And that would make me at least question the motives of those who can.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Toby, if you have such a profound interest in BNP, I suggest going after them directly instead of dragging them into other threads.

I had a similar experience over at Jihad Watch, where BNP proponents would spam threads on a regular basis with praise of their beloved party. After a few of us told them that it was offensive and off-topic, they actually buggered off. I encourage others to do likewise - BNP is not intersting enough.

In case you want to pick a fight with BNP directly, paying them a visit in Britain is encouraged.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Henrik, this is my blog after all and I don't tell those who leave comments what they should or should not discuss. So sorry if you see it as a digression, but my comment on the BNP has a relevance to what Kenneth and I were debating, so I'm afraid you'll just have to skip over it if it bores you.

This is after all a post about Mormons. Now, I know Kenneth is more interested in Islam than Mormonism so I'm not going to tell him that he has to keep his comment to the law and order in Utah if he doesn't want to.

Do you think the Utah state authorities should task their law enforcement with investigating the polygamy? "We don't have the resources" sounds something of a lame excuse doesn't it?

KGS said...

TOBY: The BNP have plenty of members (and indeed leaders) who are holocaust denying, former-skinhead shit kickers who have blighted the lives of British people for years - black, white, brown, Jewish, female and gay. If anyone can get past that they are a hell of lot more forgiving than me. And that would make me at least question the motives of those who can."

Just add the word Sharia supporters with the BNP and we are on the same page!

KGS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KGS said...

Of course I believe that the state of Utah should police it, but once again, I believe Mormon polygamy to be a side issue, close to irrelevence, because as I last looked, Mormons are not waging a war on non-Mormons until they are made to submit to the book of Mormon.

Your Neighbour said...

This was a very interesting response from you, KGS:

And NO. If in fact the only authority involved in these divorces were sharia courts, then not under any circumstances should they be recognized by a Finnish court.

So if I get your reasoning correctly, the Finnish State should not permit the dissolution of moslem marriages by application of the wife to a Sharia court, even though it does recognise those marriages when they are duly solemnised by an Islamic procedure in Finland, and even though the Islamic community in Finland considers those marriages dissolved with the woman free to marry again?

Is that really your position on this question? It's highly fundamentalist if so.

"Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder."

There are still many Finns who do not consider civil ceremonies to be "real" weddings, and would always insist that the union should be solemnised by a minister of religion with an appropriate ceremony. If you are unable to feel the force of this kind of religious conviction, then you are likely to have considerable difficulty in appreciating the similar importance to such people of a proper and solemn divorce procedure that is fully recognised by the community to which those people belong.

Your Neighbour said...

One other thing, KGS:

You described my point "... it is incorrect to equate a religious and cultural tradition with an ideology or to reduce it to such" as a laughable and very outrageous claim. My understanding is that it is almost a platitude of anthropology and comparative theology.

An ideology is a set of mutually consistent propositions. Adherence to an ideology is nothing more than holding those propositions to be true. In the strongest possible case, if the propositions are in fact true and the propositional attitude is meaningfully connected to the facts that make the proposition true, then we refer to knowledge of those facts. However, these are still merely propositional attitudes, which means that there is no emotional commitment. In other words, after learning that all of the propositions that make up an ideology are true, I can still respond "so what?"

These propositional attitudes involve no motivation to pray or worship, no sense of holiness, no notion of how to live my life, and no emotional attitude towards my own existence in the context of reality and personal experience. They are simply matters of fact that a scientist with a clipboard might be able to tick off one by one. Would we say that, on verifying all of the propositions on the list, the scientist has already become a Christian, Moslem, Jew etc?

Emotional commitment is essential before anyone can be viewed as a follower of a religious tradition. It is this emotional commitment that makes unusual events into miracles, as opposed to interesting unexplained scientific observations. To borrow an example here, without emotional commitment (religious commitment, if you prefer) the story of a man rising from the dead on the third day is a story of an ambulant corpse: an interesting freak event with no saving power. It is the emotional commitment that makes this event religiously meaningful.

There is a parallel here with David Hume's observation that "it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger." No amount of knowledge can, in and of itself, motivate action. Similarly propositional attitudes may be involved in a religious and cultural tradition to a greater (Christianity) or lesser (Judaism, Islam) degree, but there is no way to equate that tradition with propositional attitudes alone.

In short, efforts to reduce religion to ideology already fail on logical grounds. You and I can know everything that a moslem knows, but that will not make us moslems. Most crucially, even if we adhered to the outwardly apparent praxis of Islam, we would not feel like moslems. Instead, the experience would be more like enthusiastically cheering on a football team that one does not support.

The point is that religion informs every aspect of the adherent's life, which includes perception, preference, taste and the choice of what is meaningful. In an important sense, it defines who the individual is.

I gave the example of Western revulsion at eating maggots as part of the regular diet. This is emphatically not a matter of knowledge or even of hygiene perceptions. Grubs raised in sterile conditions and vacuum packed for sale in Stockmann with nutrition values printed on the packet would still only sell to Aborigines. This cannot be reduced to ideology, but is a matter of cultural preference and taste. There are many elements of religious and cultural traditions that are of precisely this character.

Your Neighbour said...

On the topic of Mormons and multiple marriage, Toby, I am not at all surprised that little or no official action has been taken. There is a fundamental difference between use of illegal narcotics and multiple marriage, which is that at least nowadays the former is not part of anyone's religious identity (the example of Native Americans and Peyote is instructive in this regard). Narcotics are understood as recreational substances that have undesirable medical and social effects, and to some extent the law seeks to protect the community and individuals from those effects. Multiple marriages by Mormons are simply a different social custom that is confined to a well-defined subculture.

I am reminded of the police attitude to dice games in the cellars of Chinese restaurants in Gerrard Street back in the 60s and 70s. There was obviously a lot of unlicensed gambling going on, but it was impossible to take part in these games unless you could speak Chinese, so the "problem" was socially confined and self-policing. It was better for these games to take place in Soho than in more out of the way places. Illegal dog fights and bare-knuckle contests in Green Belt barns were a much bigger problem for the police in those days.

Utah could launch a campaign of locking up the Mormon fathers, but the outcome would be entirely predictable and the entire process would be pointless and disproportionately costly. Persecuting religious communities for their behaviour in private is seldom if ever effective as a means of social control. Finland eventually realised this with the national service dispensation for Jehova's Witnesses that took effect in 1987. By that time it must have been clear that locking up young men for their religious beliefs really deters nobody, but instead breeds fanaticism. The best antidote to the problem, if there is one, is to enhance the individual freedom of these men and wait for nature to take its course.

The same objective could be achieved in Utah by simply not legally recognising the second or subsequent marriage while improving the general rights of the cohabiting women and their "illegitimate" children (isn't this exactly what happens in Finland?). We would then say that there is no longer any bigamy in Utah, even though there are many extended family-type communes. The Mormons who are sanctioned and blessed by their church would be largely indifferent to their status in the eyes of public administration. Probably the only thing preventing this policy is prudery, but of course prudery is a significant social force in the USA, so the safest middle-of-the-road policy is inaction.

KGS said...

Secular law always reigns supreme over religious law, if the Finnish court deems a marriage dissolved, then its dissolved, it's not a sharia court that's doing the dissolving but the Finnish state which gives it's seal of approval.

It's the same in reverse, the marriage contracted in a religious wedding is only deemed valid if the state gives its approval of the wedding, its not the chruch, synagogue or mosque that gives it valifity, but the state.

Authority comes from the state, not from the religion itself. After the nuptials between husband and wife, it's all the same what they do afterwards, they could howl at the moon and toss stones into a well and it wouldn't change the role the states plays in making their union valid, which renders your point moot.

As for the rest of your rather long post about Islam being an ideology, I could care less whether you or any other religionist "believes that a diety exists", it does not change the FACT that the belief that a diety exists is in fact an ideology.

It's totally irrelevant what a religionist "feels" or "knows" to be true, which supposedly makes his/her belief magically not an ideology. Honestly, such reasoning is plain silly. No sarcasim intended.

As for the Mormon issue, multiple marriages might fun for some, but for those trapped in the system, having peer pressure as a guide, the lifestyle can be a living hell, and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

You might think Big Love as an interesting insight to the life styles of the Mormon church...but I personally refrain from using Hollywood as a source for my understanding of the world.

Your Neighbour said...

You seem to have missed the point about official recognition of marriages and divorces (or any other disposition of legal rights), KGS, but the point remains that a wife who has been granted a divorce by the Sharia court in London is free to marry again in Finland. Nor is it materially relevant even if this requires endorsement by a registering authority or even a regular court in Finland, as the latter court does not concern itself with the grounds upon which the divorce was granted, nor does it view the matter as in any way adversarial. All that is relevant to such endorsement is that the Sharia court was duly convened in accordance with the express or implied wishes of the spouses. The detailed mechanism of official recognition is beside the point: what matters in official recognition is that there is no requirement for the process to re-examine the merits of the case.

The same applies to a disposition of property determined by a Sharia court in settlement of a dispute between businesses. No Finnish court would consider itself competent to rule on whether or not a particular consignment of foodstuffs is halal and therefore in compliance with or contrary to a contractual stipulation between the parties. Any dispute that turns on such a question would be referred to an expert, and ideally to an expert recognised by both parties to the dispute. A Sharia court is an expert in this sense par excellence.

I'm not sure how you digressed into ontological questions based on my remarks on the nature of faith and religious tradition, but I did not introduce the "existence of a deity" at any point. That is your premise, not mine, and seems to be based on some kind of persuasive definition of religion that you have not provided. At the risk of encouraging your repeatedly ad hominem approach to disputation, please note that I consider myself an atheist in the strict sense of the term.

I have not seen the screenplay to which you refer, but I never said that multiple marriage involved no matters of social or legal concern. A similar debate is now simmering over birth control in Lestadian communities in Finland, and it has become quite clear that the women concerned cannot simply walk away from the problem. This, of all things, should make it clear that religious and cultural tradition cannot be reduced to ideology alone. If it could, then all that these women would need to do is change their opinions.

KGS said...

No matter how much Your Neighbor spins it, sharia law is something that not only many Muslim majority states refuse, one noteable example being Turkey, but also many Muslims living in the West.

I already mentioned Finnish Muslim of Kurdish extraction, Husein Mohamed as being one of those fully agaisnt sharia in Finland, but there are more Muslims out there as well.

Muslims Against Sharia is one of the more noticeable examples as well as No Sharia:
http://www.reformislam.org/

Homa Arjomand: http://www.nosharia.com/is%20Islam%20incompatable%20with%20modern%20society.htm

Canada rejected it's inclusion of sharia law courts recently, and with good reason, it sets up a precedent for parallel societies, with one set of laws for one, while another set of laws for another.

Your examples of football litigation wouldn't be taken seriously there, nor should it here. It's only a matter of time before Britian comes to its coleective senses, and repeals any steps made at introducing sharia courts in the UK.

Your Neighbour said...

So it seems that you do want to limit the freedom of contract of a specific minority and prevent Moslem women from divorcing their husbands in a manner that their community respects, KGS. I suspect that this is because you have no respect for that community in the first place.

This is not a matter of the content of a system that you or I find objectionable, but about the freedom of others who do not share those objections to have recourse to that system.

Perhaps I am wasting my time providing analogies, as you consistently and quite deliberately ignore the evident structural similarities that they are designed to illustrate. However, I shall press a point made previously as an aside to show exactly what you are advocating:

Neither you nor I eat insects and we probably find the idea repulsive, but on what grounds could we prevent Aborigines in Finland from importing such a foodstuff for human consumption? The point is that this foodstuff must be subject to exactly the same technical acceptability criteria as all other foodstuffs. Our distaste is irrelevant, and it remains irrelevant even if some other aspects of the traditional Aborigine diet are shown to be unhealthy. In order to ban this foodstuff, we would have to show that this foodstuff is a health hazard.

Finnish law already includes safeguards on unacceptable consequences of alien dispute resolution procedures. To the extent that a Sharia court ruling in family or business law, an arbitration award in business or a disciplinary sanction in sport contravenes those safeguards, it can be quashed.

Precisely the same reasoning governs the use of Sharia courts for settling disputes. If there are material problems with the outcome, then these can be disputed in the regular courts, for example on the basis of the Transactions Act. Otherwise the fundamental principle of liberal democracies is that it is lawful to do everything that the law does not specifically prohibit.

Are you seriously suggesting that a Finnish court could rule on the question of whether a consignment of food was not halal and therefore in breach of contract? Or are you suggesting that no such clause may be included in a contract made between two Finnish businesses? How, precisely, should Helsingin Käräjäoikeus deal with an action of this kind? Ask the parties to nominate expert witnesses? And what should the court do if both parties to that dispute nominate the same Sharia court in London as their only expert witness?

In a previous posting you complained that "this lawyer talk is nothing but smoke and mirrors", but what would you expect to find in a discussion of any legal system?

It would be interesting to hear where you stand on such questions as Jewish circumcision, the dispensation of Jehova's witnesses from military service and business liability for Church tax. These are all far more substantial special exceptions for religious communities than mere recourse to a specialised dispute resolution procedure.

It would also be interesting to hear where you stand on the question of the individual's duty to resist unjust laws and the duty of a soldier to disobey an order to commit a war crime. Serious meditation on these questions is one way to develop a more profound understanding of what law is for.

KGS said...

I have respect first and foremost for civil law.

What you appear intent on doing, is to ramrod a highly politicized legal system in religious clothing, down the throats of a secular state, under the guise of "not discriminating against a minority".

You have used every trick in the book to advance the cause of allowing sharia into Western society, without once ever mentioning any of the disadvantages such a highly misogynist and intolerant system would pose for the people forced by local peer pressure to submit to it.

I do not deem you an honest broker in the discussion, especially when I have submitted individual Muslims and Muslim organizations who are vehemently opposed to sharia being given state sanction.

You conveniently overlook "No Sharia" and "Muslims Against Sharia", choosing not to respond to anything they have to say. It's understandable why you do so, because it proves my point, that there is no such thing as just a "little bit of sharia".

It's the very same point, political analyst, Iivi Anna Masso pointed out during the same Maahanmuutto Ilta on TV2 a couple of months ago.

Masso argued, as I do, that there is much much more to sharia than just "marriage issues" and inheritance matters. These issues should be and can be handled by the civil courts, something of which the local Tatar community has managed to do over a hundred years their community has existed in Finland.

There is no need for the Finnish civil courts to recognize a religious law, when there are ample civil laws in force. If a religionist is upset about the fact that secular laws trump religious laws, then they are free to try their hand at emmgrating to a state that provides that service.

Sharia courts and laws that come from them have no place in a secualr society.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Kenneth, it still appears that YN is offering a legal argument based on his/her reading of Finnish law, whilst you are offering a political/ethical argument. The correctness of one doesn't really have much bearing on the other.

You haven't proven at all that what YN says is wrong - that it is already acceptable that contracts can be governed by sharia (or other non-Finnish legal systems) under current Finnish law. You just disagree with the implications of what he says.

Maybe YN is totally wrong on this - I'm no lawyer so don't know - but if he/she isn't wrong (and you need to check that with a lawyer to see if there are other interpretations) then your argument should be directed at your MP because it would be a legislative issue to change Finnish law to somehow exclude the right for people to contract under Sharia. From what I understand of YN is arguing, what most of us would call the terrible excesses of Sharia law as practised elsewhere in the world are already clearly outlawed in Finland because they contravene Finnish law.

But if you can explain why YN's explanation of how the Finnish legal system already works is wrong - please do so.

KGS said...

On the contrary: YN hasn't provided a scintilla of proof that anything he has said, is actually true. As far as things stand, it's all been heresay.

As I stated early on in the exchange, I would love some valid examples, you know, like links, tangible evidence that what he says is true, because I WOULD LOVE TO BLOG ON THIS AND SPREAD IT AROUND FAR AND WIDE AS POSSIBLE.

As of yet, all we have is YN's word that what he/she is saying is infact Finnish law. So I cannot prove wrong something that I have no way of knowing in fact exists.

I am not impressed by his legalistic terminology and phrasing, not in the least. Where's the beef?

KGS said...

Also: If two individuals want to enter a purely private contract based on their personal interpretation of sharia, there's no way to stop them. But the state should never recognize any such contract. It's not a matter of sharia, it's a matter of secularism. The state should recognize no religious law whatsoever.

We can't outlaw Islam, which would be the only way to deal with purely private contracts. The only thing that matters is whether or not the state grants any recognition to these contracts.

The state is the only thing that matters. If the state recognizes private contracts based on religious laws, then the state ceases to be a secular state.

Either you have secularism or you don't. That's the point I'm making. As of yet, there has been no proof offered showing the Finnish state's rejection its own secularism.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Perhaps you have a mate who is a lawyer - and could ask them? I'm not sure what proof we can ask for from YN. He/she said many messages higher that:

This is the law of Finland as it currently stands, based on the principle of freedom of contract with appropriate minimal safeguards such as section 36 of the Transactions Act (Laki varallisuusoikeudellisista oikeustoimista 13.6.1929/228).

Are you saying this is wrong? Again I have no idea, as I'm not a lawyer - but my sense is you don't know either if his/her legal interpretation is correct or not? I'm not totally certain - but this http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1929/en19290228.pdf appears to be the relevant law in English from Finlex (so I think they are approved translations), I have no expertise to know whether YN's explanation of it is correct or not. But do you?

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

"Either you have secularism or you don't. That's the point I'm making. As of yet, there has been no proof offered showing the Finnish state's rejection its own secularism."

Good point, although maybe not that simple - why do Jehovah's witnesses get exemption from military and civilian alternative conscription? Surely that is a religious exemption? It didn't used to be that way, there was a work camp somewhere in Western Finland (can't remember the name of the place) where total refusers - almost all Jehovah's Witnesses were sent until, IIRC, the early 70s when Kekkonen himself visited and was shocked by the state of the prisoners. He set up an investigation led by the head of prisons at the time that led to the law being changed.

KGS said...

I appreciate your points about JW's etc., but I believe it's a mistake to conflate Islam with other religions, since no other religion consistis of so many elements.

True, there are exemptions made on one point or another for other faiths, I'm not denying that, but the existence of these exmptions, shouldn't be used as a battering ram for the inclusion of a dearth of sharia based laws.

None of this was even contimplated 60-100 yrs ago, and neither have the Tatar Islamic community been clamoring for "special rights", which has been missing from the exchanges....though I have repeatedly referred to that group.

I also believe that what's in question here, is not that private contracts can be made between individuals, which (13.6.1929/228)was referring to, but the state giving its recognition of those private transactions.

YN has repeatedly called for the state to recognize Sharia courts, which it can't do if it wants to remain a secualr state.

We are being asked to take a major step backwards here.

Your Neighbour said...

Section 36 of the Transactions Act essentially outlaws unreasonable transactions or transactions with unreasonable consequences. This is a catchall safeguard that applies to all commercial and civil relations.

Another important, more specialised law in this context is the Arbitration Act (Laki välimiesmenettelystä, no. 967 of 1992). This is also available in English in the Finlex database. Finlex translations are not official, Toby, and the quality varies considerably, although they are generally reliable for practical purposes.

The Arbitration Act stipulates that any civil or commercial dispute that can be settled by agreement between the parties may also be referred to arbitration (section 3).

There are no mandatory stipulations on the persons who may serve as arbitrators or on the detailed procedure that an arbitration must follow. This means that the parties are free to appoint whomsoever they wish to settle their dispute, subject to the usual minimum general conditions of fair and equitable process (audiatur et altera pars etc.).

Please also note that section 5 of the same Act instructs the Finnish court to refer the parties to arbitration when they have so agreed, even when one party has petitioned the Finnish court instead, should the other party so insist.

This means that if our kebab restaurateur refers the halal dispute to the District Court of Helsinki, but the pizza vendor insists on the agreed arbitration by a Sharia court in London, then the District Court cannot hear the action. Instead, the District Court of Helsinki is legally obliged to refer the parties to their agreed arbitration procedure, although the Finnish court does have the power to grant injunctive relief pending settlement of the dispute.

It is difficult to imagine a more concrete statute than this for recognising the competence of a parallel legal process. This is precisely the statute that underpins commercial arbitration between merchant banks and settlement of disputes relating to sport. This law clearly does not exclude or outlaw the use of Sharia courts for the same purpose.

The specific safeguards of the Arbitration Act in the case of an award issued by the Sharia court in London are set out in sections 51 - 55 of the Act. The basic premise is that the arbitral award is enforceable in Finland (section 54), but is open to challenge to the extent that it is contrary to ordre public in Finland or on the grounds that the arbitration procedure (including the agreement upon which it is based) is in some fundamental way defective (section 53).

What this means is that any award made by the Sharia court in favour of the kebab restaurateur or the pizza vendor must normally be enforced by a Finnish court. That simply is what is meant by recognition.

To sum up, then, Finnish courts are legally bound to refer parties to their chosen mode of arbitration, even when this is a Sharia court, and they are also legally bound to enforce the outcome, provided that the procedure was correct and the outcome does not conflict with public policy in Finland.

It occurs to me that divorce is probably a bad example to use in this context, as Finland has a system of no-fault divorce anyway. The reference to a Sharia court ruling is therefore strictly irrelevant to the legal and administrative process in Finland - though not to the Islamic community. In the area of commercial relations, however, a Sharia court is as good a place to settle a dispute as any other venue freely chosen by the parties.

Toby, I e-mailed you about something related to your workplace. Hope you saw it.

KGS said...

One thing worth noting Toby, is YN's making a false comparison with secular contracts (banks, sports, vendors) and religious contracts. He's conflating both, and they're not the same. Again, the heart of the matter is secularism.

YN's conflation of secular/civil and religious laws, and then stating that the Finnish courts are duty bound to uphold those rulings, dictated no less, by a religious court.... can't be allowed go unnoticed.

If in fact, what YN says turns out to be true, then, it's an astounding situation, and as you said befoer Toby, it's a situation that needs to be addressed before the Finnish parliament. I would then suggest that, since YN has indeed, lawyerly skills, he should seek a review of the laws.

I would also expect Husein Mohammed to take up the challenge and ensure that the issue be brought before the parliament to have whatever anti-secular statutes repealed.

I must then ask YN if he/she is more than ready to proceed with such a task, or let things sit as they are?

Again, Sharia is an all encompassing legal system that effects every aspect of society, do we really want such an anti-liberal system at work in our liberal society? I think not.

Your Neighbour said...

I have no idea what you mean by a religious contract and I suspect that you don't either, KGS, but I'll share an extraordinary fact with you about Finland. There are churches all over the place, and there are also people who attend those churches at least occasionally and sometimes regularly. Astoundingly, this is not illegal, and even more astonishingly, ordinary Finnish people seem to think that the fact that church attendance is not illegal means that they are allowed to attend those churches as and when they please.

It's called freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of association. It goes along with that other thing that's been bugging you lately: freedom of contract.

This one really creased me up: ... do we really want such an anti-liberal system at work in our liberal society? I think not.

I seem to recall Neil Hardwick brilliantly satirising this point of view in his Kuvalehti articles over 20 years ago. "We have freedom in Finland! We can do whatever we like. But if you foreigners come here you will abuse that freedom by doing whatever you like!"

The plain fact is that it's already happening.

A couple who have been married in church might even consult their parish priest, minister or other senior Church figure seeking acceptance of their decision to divorce. The authority figure consulted would begin by hearing both spouses and encouraging them to explore avenues for reconciliation. If no reconciliation is possible, then (depending on the denomination concerned), the person consulted might give the requested blessing, possibly against the wishes of one of the spouses. This kind of process is something that some people (especially the ones that you find in Church on Sunday) consider to be important in their lives, and that some communities traditionally expect.

It is also possible for entrepreneurs to seek conciliation in their business conflicts by a comparable procedure, most particularly when these entrepreneurs are mindful of the fact that their livelihoods depend on the confidence of other members of the same congregation. If halal food is important to people in a particular community and a dispute arises as to whether a business is trading in genuine halal food, then you have to submit this dispute to a process that the community considers pre-eminently competent to resolve it. This is what the community expects and is fully entitled to expect.

Owing to those pesky freedoms that give you so much cause for concern, these methods of conciliation are not illegal in Finland. When something is not illegal, that means that people are free to do it. They are also free to formalise these processes and call them a court.

But why don't you try to get the Arbitration Act repealed or amended with some religiously discriminatory content preventing people from seeking conciliation under the guidance of a minister of religion or appointing such a person as an arbitrator?

I certainly see no legal obstacle to establishing the same kind of Sharia court in Helsinki as already convenes in East London. There may be practical obstacles of one kind or another, especially in meeting the costs of such a service and finding judges with the right qualifications, but there is nothing in the Finnish statute book to proscribe such a move.

And if you don't like the term "Sharia court", then why not simply call it an Islamic conciliation and arbitration service?

KGS said...

With all of your lawyerish jargon, yet you fail to see the major difference between a civil and a religious contract? Really?

A license to marry is required by the Finnish state no matter if the ceremony is a civil one or religious ceremony held in a Church, Mosque or Synagogue - they are not one and the same.

Why you went on about Church goers is beyond me, freedom of assembly is not in question here, but the secularism of the state trumping all, for the good of the all.

I never said anyone did not have the right to contract freely, but that the state is under no obligation to recognize a religious oreintated contract, something that you appear bent on having.

YN: This one really creased me up: ... do we really want such an anti-liberal system at work in our liberal society? I think not.

So, it creased you up, why's that, huh?

So in fact, you see no problem with the anti-liberal system of sharia, and therefor see no problem with a Muslim woman's rights being deemed of lesser value than a man's, and that under sharia a man can divorce a wife far much easier than a wife can divorce her husband.

So instead of agreeing with me that even the less liberal portions of sharia should never be allowed in Finland, you want the entire enchilada, otherwise Finland is somehow being intolerant.

What a crock.

You are enthralled with the sharia court in East London, are you as equally enthralled with the idea that people are going to be forced against their will to submit their cases before such a court, through family and/or peer pressure?

while I regard it a fundamental right for people to contract with each other all day long on host of different issues, I maintain that if they are religious oreintated disputes, the state is under a moral and legal obligation not to recognize religious contracts.

If they want a state sanction, then it must be done in accordance to how a marriage and divorce contract is done. The principle is the same.

I find it very interesting that the head of the Finnish Islamic Council in Finland, Mustafa Kara, said on Finnish television about sharia courts in England, that

"the Finnish Islamic community in Finland is not seeking sharia courts, in England it's different, because of the size of the community is larger than what we have here.

It might have been a "shuck & jive" attempt to divert suspicion that such a thing is being contimplated here, but it is nonetheless a statement by an Islamic leader, that sharia is not necessary here.

So why are you so intent on bringing it here?

Your Neighbour said...

Well, KGS, perhaps you will point out precisely where I expressed any recommendation that a Sharia court should be established in Finland. I have simply pointed out that there is no legal obstacle to doing so. You certainly have not shown otherwise.

I think that this is a matter for the Islamic community to decide, and I indicated that there would be practical difficulties of cost and securing the services of competent staff. I am quite sure that the Islamic community in Finland is aware of this. At the moment it is probably cheaper and more convenient to seek such conciliation and arbitration abroad.

A contract is simply an exchange of promises of a character that can be enforced. All contracts are "civil", in the sense that the promises are made by civil individuals to one another as a private matter. The promises are not made to third parties, nor do they bind third parties. These are not matters of criminal law, nor of the law governing public administration. It follows that whatever you meant by a "religious" contract, this must also be a "civil" matter insofar as it really is a contract. The "major difference" that you perceive "between a civil and a religious contract" remains completely opaque until you tell us what you means by the latter expression. Perhaps you could give us an example of a contract that you do not consider to be "civil" in the sense that you use this term.

It is also possible to conclude contracts on religious subject matter. My example of a contract for the supply of halal food is an example of this. However, this contract would be just as "civil" as a contract for the sale and purchase of a hundred gallons of 12 year-old Scotch concluded between Alko and a Glaswegian distillery (disputes about which would probably be settled at arbitration, especially where such disputes concern the quality that is implied in the terms "12 year-old" and "Scotch").

If you want to know why your remark about trying to ban something in order to fortify a liberal society was amusing, then try reading my paraphrase of Neil Hardwick again. The idea of shagging for virginity also comes irresistibly to mind. Still can't see it? Oh dear.

I have pointed out that there are ordre public safeguards against the consequences of alien dispute resolution procedures of all kinds, even when these are freely and knowingly chosen by the parties. There is also an explicit safeguard in the Arbitration Act (item 1 of paragraph 1 of section 53) against enforcement of arbitral awards arising from arbitration clauses that were agreed under duress.

It is, to say the least, strange to object on libertarian grounds to the right of a woman to petition a Sharia court for release from her marriage without the consent of her husband. How else can a woman who values the respect of her community secure such a divorce? Simply renouncing her faith and walking away with a decree from a regular court is not an option for a woman in this position, however bad her husband may be, as the community will still consider her to be married and will not look kindly on her apostasy. A Sharia court offers the only respectable option in this regard.

Now we may condemn this state of affairs in Islam (and even more so in Roman Catholicism, which offers no way out at all) as much as we like, but no amount of condemnation serves the happiness of its victims. My specific advice to a devout Moslem woman in an abusive marriage is to seek the assistance of a Sharia court to extract herself from the situation without losing the respect of her community. What is your specific advice to her, KGS? Let's hope it's more constructive than "abandon your values and personality to date and subscribe to western secularism", which is rather like advising a Finn to adopt a diet of insects and small crustaceans.

KGS said...

YN, you appear keen on sharia courts, that's just my observation, as well as keen on conflating commercial and religious arbitration. If you're not...ok, but that's how you come across to me.

I accept that two parties who share commercial interests and who are more or less equal in using sharia law to settle their commercial disputes, are by law allowed to do so, calling it by any name they see fit. Their transaction/debate and arbitration IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR BECAUSE IT ONLY AFFECTS THE PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE DISPUTE. I agree that they are legal, as long as these type of arbitrations don't conflict with existing state laws. Civil laws therefore reign supreme. But commercial arbitration does not involve, nor need state sanctioned sharia courts, only councilors advising their clients. Period.

Sharia/religious arbitration however, is another kettle of fish altogether, because it's solely about the privatization of civil law and civil legal services. It's a slippery slope that will lead to parallel societies, with one set of laws for Muslims and another set for non-Muslims, and no liberal minded person should want that. I'm for every Muslim included jointly and fairly in our civil society under the same rule of law, it's the only way.

Modernist Muslims who are opposed to sharia religious arbitration do not want these public issues becoming privatized. People like Finnish attorney, Husein Mohamed, (because he's said so himself,) understand and appreciate that aside from the law there are social relationships between people that determine how/or whether legal rights are exercised. Social relationships, for example, like gender inequality, discrimination/inequality in the economic and financial power sectors, ARE PUBLIC ISSUES AND PROBLEMS [ because they cut across all religious & cultural communities. ]

We don’t want to see minorities within a minority (example: women) being subjected to bargaining away their rights in order to acquire a sense of so called "honor". YN is playing a dangerous game with other people's lives, because he thinks he knows best, that Muslim women will not be pressured into signing away their inheritance to their brothers, or be forced into divorce because their unable to bear children or lose custody to their children due to a manipulation of rules. I fail to see your logic in allowing for a different tier of justice where minorities will be put at a gross disadvantage, just because you say Finnish law already allows for it.

Those who support sharia courts (in lump, commercial & religious), state of course, that it's only meant for their communities and, of course, all of their own choosing. What sharia enthusiasts hope to gain, is societal acceptance of sharia law so that they can later get the state to enforce their edicts for them. Once people have agreed to be bound by religious rulings they can then be denied the right to seek redress in secular courts. This is how sharia supporters can get naïve or intimidated people to sign away their civil rights forever.

The problem about sharia is that it undermines the civil rule of law by establishing a different set of laws for Finn in the Muslim communities. This also raises major questions about the segregation and marginalization of Muslims from the rest of society. That is something we no not need here in Finland, in any shape or form. I hope that you and Toby in agreement with this.

P.S. As for the Neil Hardwick quotes time and again. I don't apologize for wanting to ensure that all members of society are protected from anti-liberal legislation and rulings, so go ahead with another Hardwick line at my expense, you are only making an ass out of yourself, not me. I would react the same if national or communist socialist planning were being advocated for Finnish society, I wonder if I would be getting a Hardwick quote from you concerning those ideologies as well?

There was an error in this gadget