The Rise of Patriarchy in Britain

Women have enjoyed equal rights with men for about, say, 20 years, in the history of our species (and only in certain countries). If recent developments in Britain are anything to go by, then their day in the sun may already be ending.  

Watch the incomparable Pat Condell (listen out for the ‘letterbox ladies’ story) on the Saudi-inspired misogyny of the new British Sharia Courts

Somewhat scarily, YouTube had previously blocked this video in response to …err, well, you can guess. Happily, it has been reinstated.  Womens’ Rights trump Patriarchal Religious Bigots’ Rights…for now. 

66 thoughts on “The Rise of Patriarchy in Britain

  1. I’m not up with the full legal status of these courts, but I seen nothing in principle wrong with them — if people voluntarily want to discriminate against themselves, it’s fine. I see it as just another form of self harm, and I think that should be legal too.

  2. Conrad – I very much doubt that it will be fully voluntary, I can’t see many women from Muslim families in the UK taking a stand and refusing to be bound by sharia courts. Voluntary consent is all well and good, but religion and religious groups can be extraordinarily manipulative in contolling poeple’s lives.

    Personally I think this is very, very scary. Religion should have absolutely no place in the executive or judiciary systems. It’s one of the main reasons we enjoy the liberties we do in Western counties – the whole reformation thing. I would fight any regression of the separation of church and state as strongly as possible.

    Initially I thought this whole “Islamification of Europe” thing was just right wing / nationalist propaganda, but I’m not so sure now.

  3. conrad – if indeed it was voluntary, there would be less of an issue. however, the point Condell and others make, and has already been demonstrated, is that for many Muslim women these courts are not a voluntary option. and they have already been shown to discriminate against women.

  4. Also Britain is ruled by Common Law precedent. If bad decisions are allowed to hang around long enough, they are treated as the laws of the land!
    How long before discrimination becomes habitual, and customary, and justified as cultural?

  5. “is that for many Muslim women these courts are not a voluntary option”

    I think there’s a real problem here with what you are assuming. No-one is forced to do these sorts of things in the UK (as far as I’m aware). It is therefore a voluntary option. If you want to belong to some social/religious group that doesn’t like you for some reason or other, then you always have the ability to leave. If you lose the benefits of that social group because you can’t/won’t conform, then that’s the way life is.

    For example, if you want to wear pink raver gear, none of the goths will like you anymore. In case you were a goth before hand, and they want to stone and persecute you for wearing pink raver gear, then that’s clearly illegal and could be dealt with via normal law.

    I might note here that the argument put forward that leaving is not voluntary is essentially identical to the non-religious argument people put forward for things like domestic violence. Simply because people’s lives will go down hill in some respects if they leave (and up in others) doesn’t mean that they still can’t voluntarily leave (especially in Aus & the UK which have social support for such things). Sure, you might sympathy for the victim (who wouldn’t), but having sympathy for the victim doesn’t mean you take away their ability to have some form of self determination in their lives.

  6. Sharia law doesn’t give a damn about freedom and human rights. It’s primitive and faith based.

    I posted a link to an article on this subject in the Discussion section a while back. This article stated there were plans to extend the powers of these arbitration councils to cover criminal law, and that is definitely wrong.

    I think that when it comes to criminal law, there should only be one law of the land. eg/ Business contracts can have many permutations, but justice for a violent crime needs to be standardised.
    The law should provide justice to Isalmic women who have suffered domestic violence crimes for example.

    I think these Sharia courts are a dangerous precedent.
    But I’m not sure they should be banned in their current form.
    If your religious belief is that women should not get equal treatment in issues such as wills, estates, contracts and marriage then I suppose that’s your problem.

    Sharia law is IMO idiotic.
    And an important issue is that freedom of speech pointing this out should not be restricted or censored as I believe it is in England, Canada, Denmark and many other western countries. Pat Condell rightly draws attention to the stupidity of effectively making it illegal to hurt someone’s feelings.

  7. The Exclusive Brtheren in Australia appear to practise a form of strict sanction against members who are judged to have trangressed in some way. None of these sanctions are enforceable at law, the same goes for the British proposals. That hasn’t stopped the Exclusive Bretheren making some peoples lives a misery to the extend that it alleged that some have taken their own life. As Conrad says that’s up to individuals. I think the tone of the post and some of the comments point to an underlying racist sentiment that is not unknown here.

  8. Condell isn’t racist.
    He just strongly dislikes all religions, particularly Islam which is IMO easily currently the worst of the major religions.

    It’s important and right to be able to make judgements of various cultures and religions. eg/ Generally, Islamic countries are absolutely pathetic at science right now. Not racist.

    However, the government and the law should of course treat people as individuals. eg/ Immigration laws should not be based on a person’s race. If they are, then this is racist.

    The exclusive bretheren are a good example. You shouldn’t outlaw them, but you’re an idiot if you join that church. I think it’s the same for contracts based on Sharia law – If you base your will on Sharia law, you’re an idiot IMO but it shouldn’t be illegal.

    The dangers are 1) when Sharia law is allowed to arbitrate criminal matters. (which they will probably soon try to do). 2) Further erosion of the right to freedom of speech simply to appease sensitive religious people who are too stupid to even recognise the irony of threatening to blow you up if you dare draw a picture of Mohammed.

    Freedom is a binary situation. If you compromise on this principle, then it follows logically that more compromises are inevitable. Because the arguments defending freedom have been made invalid by the first act of compromise and further exceptions will be made. Freedom is such a broad principle covering the entire realm of politics that it doesn’t have exceptions – because providing freedom should be whole purpose of politics.

  9. Tim – indeed

    conrad – ‘no one is forced to do these sort of things in the UK’

    that’s a very naive view of Islam. female Muslims can’t just decide to abandon their faith. if they choose this option, they are effectively kissing goodbye to their friends, their families and their whole way of life. it is not voluntary for women. and that is the whole point.

    patrick – a hundred lines for the dunce in the corner.

    Islam is a religion not a race.

    how many f***ing times.

  10. “female Muslims can’t just decide to abandon their faith. if they choose this option, they are effectively kissing goodbye to their friends, their families and their whole way of life”

    The same is true of many people in domestic violence situations. But I’d recommend that they leave also. If all my friends believed in some oppressive religion or just had completely oppressive views, I’d find a new set.

    I might note here too that I’m not talking about Muslims in general (I’m sure most are fairly happy with common law in places like the UK — what percentage want Sharia law anyway?), so it’s really a tiny chunk of the population we are worrying about. Perhaps they could just go down the street to a more moderate mosque, for example.

  11. @11

    Er … did I say that Islam was a race? Perhaps Pommy is confused by my apostropherical blunder.

  12. Islam is a religion not a race. How many f***ing times.

    I’m afraid we’re going to have to keep at it for a while pommy. ‘racism’ nowdays means lot more things than merely discriminating on the basis of race, according to the culural relativists. It’s often used to stop a debate where the other side is legitimately criticising an aspect of a particular culture or religion.

  13. “…did I say that Islam was a race?”

    Ahem, YOU were the one who suggested the author of the post, which attacks patriarchy in Muslim communities, held some “underlying racist sentiment”. The only way to interpret your original statement is that opposing some tendency among Muslims is evidence of “racism”, which by logic implies that Muslims are a race. Don’t go backing away from the accusation now.

  14. “It’s often used to stop a debate where the other side is legitimately criticising an aspect of a particular culture or religion.”

    Yes I often deploy it in the face of such brilliantly constructed rhetoric as:

    “Sharia law doesn’t give a damn about freedom and human rights. It’s primitive and faith based.”

    and then there’s

    “Sharia law is IMO idiotic.”

    BTW I just noticed this:

    “the whole reformation thing”

    I don’t really understand how the “reformation thing” endorsed the separation of church and state. That is if you’re talking about the Protestant Reformation, commonly thought to have started with Luther although it had been formenting for some time. I think you’ll find many references to contemporary Protestant Princes throughout Germany. In England Henry the 8th replaced the Pope with himself as head of the Church but I don’t think he loosed his hand on the reigns of power.

  15. @15
    That’s a possible interpretation. Although I would argue that saying that there is an underlying racist tone to both the post and this blog is rather too general to sustain you view. In fact my post doesn’t even mention Islam on my reading. Next please.

  16. In fact, Pommy, in many cases they are not simply kissing their way of life goodbye – they are forfeiting their lives completely.

    I happen to agree, wholeheartedly in fact, with the commenter’s point about the Exclusive Brethren (which was, just as an aside, made in bad faith and entirely for the purpose of changing the topic away from Islam and Muslims for no principled reason). They are a stupid, backward, obscurantist cult that should be ridiculed and mocked freely. Obviously, they don’t pose any threat to the rest of the community, but I would be certainly interested to hear about how they treat people who choose to leave their barbaric way of life.

    Now, as for the “tiny minority of extremists” in other religious communities whose name needn’t be repeated, we can only go on recent polling that shows, far from there only being a “small fringe” of fanatics, there is in fact a very large reservoir of support for implementing Sharia and killing ex-Muslim apostates:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1540895/Young%2C-British-Muslims-%27getting-more-radical%27.html

    Forty per cent of Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 said they would prefer to live under sharia law in Britain, a legal system based on the teachings of the Koran. The figure among over-55s, in contrast, was only 17 per cent.

    Turning to issues of faith, 36 per cent of the young people questioned said they believed that a Muslim who converts to another religion should be “punished by death.” Among the over 55s, the figure is only 19 per cent.

    Phew! Only 36% of young British Muslims are prepared to admit to a polling firm that they advocate murdering apostates who choose leave their idiotic superstition. And a trifling 40% would rather live under Sharia.

    Nope, move along folk – nothing to see here!

  17. did i imply that Islam was a race?

    yes you did, patrick.

    an underlying racist sentiment that is not uncommon here

    you also implied that this is a racist blog frequented by racist commenters. please clear up this misunderstanding.

    are you sure you actually meant to say this?

  18. So you think it’s racist to criticise sharia law? Point proved – you clearly don’t have the same definition of racism that I do (or what’s in the dictionary for that matter)

  19. Oh, so now you’re saying that you are happy to make vague, unsubstantiated accusations of racism against people, without reference to anything in particular. Obviously, if flinging lazy, pathetic libels around is what you like doing in your spare time, we’ll be sure to let that fact influence how we judge the value of your future comments.

  20. @20
    BTW if you are going to bring an action for defamation you’ll have to identify the injured party and you must show damage to that individuals reputation. It is possible to bring an action against a class of people although this is very difficult to sustain. Try not to be lazy when using legal terms.

  21. @21 re your @17 – no ‘possible interpretation’ about it.

    Quite clearly in @16 you say that you deploy the ‘racist’ tag against a criticism of sharia law, which is a religious and cultural contruct. Therefore you define ‘racism’ as criticising religion and/or culture.

    So my @19 stands!!

    p.s. dont sweat the occasional missing apostrophe (see I missed one there no sweat) – many bloggers still confuse their/there/they’re and you’re/your 😉

  22. No, I’m certainly not going to bring any court action, not least as the damage to Pommygranate’s reputation from an cowardly, libellous, internet troll is probably much too slight to bother with.

    The real damage is to your OWN credibility, which now lies in tatters, having casually deployed serious, morally-loaded accusations against Pommygranate without giving a skerrick of substance to them.

  23. Patrick, I really think you are the lazy one. Tossing around words with careless regard to their meaning is decidedly sloppy. Despite your ramble about defamation I doubt if you are a lawyer, because you would know how important definitions are.

    Religious bias, which is what you are criticising, is obviously not racism. That’s not even open to debate really.

    And libel (or verbal defamation) can occur without it being actionable. Although I suggest you quit while you are still ahead. It’s mighty expensive to defend.

  24. @26
    No doubt about it I’m not a lawyer and neither are you I’d say, just studied tort and contract, to wit your definition of libel:
    “libel (or verbal defamation)”
    I would present this definition of libel:
    ” 1. A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person’s reputation.

    As opposed to slander:
    “Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.”

    Anyway the point still remains that despite all the blustering noone here was able to show that any part of my original post asserted that Islam was a race.
    I would thank you to have the decency to either put up or shut up.
    It is typical of racists that they attempt to obfuscate their sentiments, after all racism is regarded as abhorrent by all right thinking people.

  25. patrick – stop screaming racist like a child throwing a tantrum.

    it is you who first made the allegation that ‘the tone of this post and some of the comments point to an underlying racism that is not uncommon here.’

    accusing people of racism is a very serious charge these days. it can end up in court and can be very expensive for everyone concerned.

    The onus is on you to explain the ‘racist tone of this post and the comments.’ go ahead.

  26. I think now might be a good idea to track down Patrick’s IP address, Pommy.

    Just suggestin’

  27. I’m not sure Patrick was sloppy, reading the thread he deliberaely smeared pommy and, I guess, anyone else who is worried that sharia courts might be a bad thing.

    I don’t think it is even religious bias. Have we got to the point where the merits of particular belief systems are out of bounds?

  28. In hindsight, our friend hasn’t been sloppy at all. He has deliberately repeated the same indefensible smears, to try to emphasise his point.

    And what is his point? That anyone who opposes sharia law is a racist. That’s the only possible interpretation of his original comment.

  29. guys – methinks it’s time to stop feeding the troll (or pedant, I’m not even sure which). cheers

  30. It is typical of racists that they attempt to obfuscate their sentiments

    The only one obfuscating is you Patrick. And you’re not doing a very good job of it. In fact, you’ve now included more people in your defamation.

    after all racism is regarded as abhorrent by all right thinking people.

    “Right-thinking” does not entitle you to engage in libellous insults. Indeed, most racists claim that term too.

    [And yes I am a lawyer (qualified anyway) and I inadvertently replaced written with verbal. My advice to you remains the same though. Throwing ignorant insults like that around is not only dumb, but risky to your financial circumstances.]

  31. “[And yes I am a lawyer (qualified anyway) and I inadvertently replaced written with verbal. My advice to you remains the same though. Throwing ignorant insults like that around is not only dumb, but risky to your financial circumstances.]”

    Oh dear, a sloppy lawyer, me thinks we’d better track him down and avoid him like the plague, could very detrimental to his client’s financial circumstances.
    What a bunch of blustering windbags. I’ve accused no one of racism and yet I’m suffering veiled threats of legal action. What a bunch of hypocrites, first bloodied nose and off they go to the courts which are of course provided by the state at taxpayers expense, something you over aged kindy kids oppose with all your feeble will. I could take you all on with one hand tied behind my back.

    “changing the topic away from Islam and Muslims for no principled reason”
    I note you are keen to maintain the focus of the insults exclusively on Islam. Not really interested in contrasts are we? Not much at critical thinking are we? Moron.

  32. Regarding the actual point of the post — I agree with Patrick & conrad. Under UK (and Australian) law, people can leave Islam. I’m not saying it’s easy. But neither is leaving other cults/religions, neither is quitting smoking, lots of things are difficult. Sometimes, life is hard. But if you have a choice, then you have a choice. I accept the right of people to privately arbitrate their disagreements if they so choose.

    However, regarding the later debate, Patrick clearly was saying that anti-islamic comments are racist and was accusing some people here of being racist. Instead of admitting his mistake (which would have let us move on to the substance of the debate) he instead dug a bigger hole for himself and starting throwing mud. Amuzingly, he found the only lawyer here and accused him of not being a lawyer.

    Islam is not a race. It is a religion. The term Patrick was probably looking for was ” religious bigot”. There might be a bit of bigotry against Islam by some here, though I don’t think it’s the dominant position at all. Perhaps he was looking for simply “anti-islam”, which there is a bit more of here. But it’s a more understandable view and even that position is not unanimous. I dislike all organised religions pretty equally, but I tolerate people no matter what their brand-name of sky-fairy.

    Anyway — let’s try to keep things friendly. It’s possible to disagree without calling each other stupid, racist or (even worse) jewish. 🙂

  33. Tim R – regarding comment #7 does it bother you that in Australia ever state has a separate and at times quite different body of criminal law?

  34. jon and conrad – try reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’ by Khaled Housseini or ‘Infidel’ by Ayan Hirsi Ali to understand more about the life of women in Islamic societies.

  35. Agree with what John said.

    I think that allowing different courts to exist within the law and under the law is alright. In fact it seems to be to be the foundations of a more federalised system. It gives precedence to other groups to be able to form their own private courts, etc.

    Leaving Islam is hard. You stand to lose your entire family. Your friends. Your entire world. But provided there is no risk of violence from leaving the religion and provided you have protection under the law, then it’s still a choice. I don’t see it as being any different to coming out of the closet in Southern Baptist America- a lot of gay people from Southern states in the US lose their family, friends and entire way of life, too.

    Hard decisions happen. In times of recession people might have the choice between unemployment and working for peanuts. Most here believe that’s a valid choice and that the government shouldn’t interfere with the free market. Personally I think the risk of leaving Islam isn’t all that bad compared to having to choose between unemployment and peanuts.

  36. Pommy, a gay Mormon in Utah (or other religious right extremist in the South) that comes out of the closet risks facing:
    -excommunication
    -ostracism
    -potential loss of family, friends and membership in clubs and organisations
    -verbal abuse
    -threats of violence
    -actual violence
    -reduced chance of employment

    I’d think the risks are fairly similar for an Islamic woman who leaves the faith…

  37. I agree that people can arbitrate thier disputes anyway they choose. There is currently nothing here to stop any religious group setting up private “courts” to arbitrate disputes on the basis of their religious beliefs. That is a different thing from giving an explicit state recognition to a religious court, which is a bad principle because it gives a greater authority to private arrangements and could be used to coerce or repress vulnerable people within groups.

  38. provided there is no risk of violence from leaving the religion

    Shem – the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death.

    This is not even remotely comparable to a gay guy leaving the Baptist Church.

  39. Terje, with the Sharia law courts in England, there are two courts running simultaneously covering the same function. This is where it gets dangerous IMO (unless perhaps one court has final authority over the other). In Australian states, there is still only one court for your criminal offence. eg/ I can’t elect to get tried in the Northern territory. So this is what I meant by “one law of the land”.

    Perhaps Sharia courts could be made obsolete. Muslims can make their Sharia based agreements in writing and a regular court could enforce these contracts. But I don’t know enough about it really.

    I think within the one country, it’s particularly important to have a final arbitrator. In our case this is the high court.

    I think that the legal system as a whole could do with improving. eg/ Cases dragging on for years, old law that contradicts newer laws, and un-principled focus/misunderstandings/disagreements on the concept of justice and therefore law making.

    I don’t know whether or not separate state crim law is better or worse than one Australian standard.
    I’d be concerned if there were big differences for major violent crimes like murder.

  40. Pommy- and the Sharia law courts in Britain sentence apostasy with death? That is allowed under British law? Wow, you’re right, it is bad…

    Either that or females leaving the Islamic faith in Britain AREN’T killed… in which case it is comparable. Gay guys in the South DO face death threats. Matthew Shepherd and Lawrence King are two examples of gays there WERE killed. Not to mention the prevalence of gay teen suicide…

    So unless there have been examples of Islamic women being systematically executed for apostasy in Britain then I’d have to say we err on the side of freedom and let them have their stupid beliefs. Just like we let dumbass Americans have their stupid homophobic beliefs. http://www.godhatesfags.com this stuff is just as hate-filled as Islam.

    I admit to not knowing enough about the Sharia courts. But I believe that Sharia courts should be allowed for things that are offences against Islam but aren’t offences against state law. I do think that the courts should run as private courts, only relevant for people that hold to a particular faith. I also think that sentencing could be different. Provided the ACTUAL courts are the higher authority. I know other churches have “church courts” but penalties usually only include church-related things like excommunication.

    But if someone enters into Islam and implicitly agrees to a contract that they will receive 20 lashes for eating shark or non-Halal beef, then the religion should be allowed to administer that.

  41. Shem

    many muslim women don’t ‘implicitly agree’ to anything. they are not given the luxury of choice. they are told what to do and who to marry. they certainly dont ‘enter into a contract’ voluntarily.

    i don’t believe that you are indifferent to equality of the sexes, hence i have to conclude that you have very little understanding of this culture.

  42. Tim R – I’m not taking sides just showing up inconsistencies in the argument. So here is an example where two courts cover the same action if you are Australian. Go abroad and commit (or be accused of commiting) acts of sex with a minor. As I understand it you can then face trial in either the courts of the nation where the act is commited and / or in an Australian court. Both may claim juristiction, one because it occured within their nations boarders and the other because of the nature of the act and the nationality of the accused. Also join the army and murder somebody whilst abroad and you will be subject to either an Australian military court and / or the court of the foreign land where the act occurs. The notion that the juristiction of courts stops at the boarder or that juristictions don’t overlap is a neat idea but it doesn’t always apply in practice.

  43. As libertarians in the Western enlightened tradition we agree the value system our laws are based on should be rational. The conflict comes when you introduce the idea of irrationality and mysticism within the idea of law.

    From a purely intellectual perspective we can agree that conceptually because it’s voluntary and dealing with relatively minor matters that it should be able to go ahead. And indeed this works towards a privatised courts system which is desireable.

    However, like so many things, in the real world it has problems. This results in a society with two conflicting value systems thereby making day to day interaction difficult, as no one really wants to deal with someone who does not adhere to values close to their own. And people don’t universally live by higher intellectual concepts – you will get a devout muslim walking down the street thinking that Western women are all whores, and Western women will pick this up and no one wants anything to do with each other. So you get the disjointed society we see in so much of the UK. The reality is, that despite the rational concept behind it, this will create conflict and friction within it’s society, which makes your average person further disconnect from that society, resulting in less happiness, productivity, security etc etc. If you don’t want to live in the values of your host society then go somewhere else where you do fit in. And this in no way conflicts with the values of open liberal democracy as a liberal democracy can choose who comes into their society and who stays out, and all members within the society can vote for change (hopefully within the value system of an open liberal democracy).

  44. Shem I did voluntarily leave catholicism, but I did not voluntarily enter into it. My parents kinda made me do that. In fact, I don’t even remember when it started.

    Also, do you really think that people should be able to contractually agree to any type harm to themselves, like say death for apostacy? Our common law bans certain things on the basis of public policy, such as entailing land or contracts in restraint of trade, and I reckon the same should apply to your example about implicitly agreeing to 20 lashes.

  45. they are told what to do and who to marry.

    My mum sometimes told me to clean my room. And I sometimes told her to go stick it…

    I’m not talking about Muslim countries- where obviously the ACTUAL law can punish someone for abandoning the faith. But Muslim women living in Britain have the law on their side. It can be scary to take a risk like that. But regardless of what they are TOLD, what they do is still their own choice.

    Just like a victim of domestic abuse as was mentioned earlier. Or an abused teenager who runs away from home. All sucky situations…

  46. Pedro- people should be able to consent to BDSM. I think the same applies to religious codes- provided they are constrained within the actual law and there is is an escape clause for people wishing protection from religion.

    It reminds me of the case in Germany a few years ago where someone volunteered to be killed and eaten by another man. It was quite sickening, yet at the same time it was explicitly consensual. Hard for me to say it was wrong, to be honest…

  47. Mick- I’m totally opposed to most religions. Especially the three Abrahamic religions. Personally those religions are against my morals. Much like in our discussion about charity earlier I believe that those religions are wrong, but I don’t believe the government should do anything about it. Nor do I believe isolation or “cultural preservation” is the best path forward either. Most 2nd-3rd generation immigrants end up well assimilated, preserving the elements of their own culture that meld well with their new society while abandoning those that don’t. I live in an area with a lot of Muslim teenagers in Narre Warren and most of them seem well enough integrated.

    The problem with Britain, perhaps is “too much, too quickly”. But I don’t know enough about the situation.

    I don’t like the idea of cultural ghettos, but I like the idea of government restricting the movement of people even more. I look at Japan as an example of a nation that takes preserving its national identity way too far.

  48. I admire your adherence to the philosophy of open society and libertarianism. I agree with the theory (of course!).

    I don’t know what happened with the UK either, but the home of liberal democracy is pretty much no longer a liberal democracy and I think a lot of people would argue that these sort of things are part of the reason. I’m starting to err on the side of the argument that says there are practical realities that need to be addressed while working towards to the ideal of open society liberal democracy.

    If we did exactly the same thing as the UK shouldn’t we expect very similar results?

    You lived in Japan so you’d better understand the situation, but I think the Japanese are generally happy with their society?

  49. Sure the Japanese are… but a lot of Germans were proud of their nation during WWII.

    I don’t see Japan as a healthy nation. While most Japanese aren’t exactly racist, they are xenophobic in the extreme. A foreigner, even one that takes up citizenship (requiring revocation of their birth citizenship) and a Japanese name (required by law) is not fully integrated. Gaijin (lit. “outside person”) are gaijin- no matter their fluency in Japanese, years of experience in the country or familial connections.

    Even 3rd generation Korean immigrants (whose grandparents have been in Japan since WWII) don’t reveal their heritage, even though they have grown up in Japan and the only country they know is Japan.

    And don’t get me started on Japanese rice tariffs…

  50. I suspect that cultural ghettos are more common in the UK due to the public housing situation there. It causes ghettos in general. If you want people to assimilate then require them to rent or buy their own accomodation using money acquired via a job.

  51. The establishment of private legal systems and institutions to arbitrate in disputes is, regardless of whether this is Islamic law or Klingon Law, a very good thing.

    The argument that an unquantifiable minority of participants in these bodies might be doing so under some sort of compulsion is not, in itself, an argument against private dispute resolution; as the same arguments could be deployed to ban abortion clinics or the sale of the morning after pill (for example). The fact remains that the participants in shariah-based arbitration have the same legal remedies available to them in the ‘official’ legal system as any other citizen if they disagree with a ruling or consider it unjust or inappropriate.

  52. If all Muslims were like you, Amir, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because there would be no conflict. But I think you’d agree they’re not all like you and they don’t all share exactly the same values and rational approach that you do.

  53. It’s interesting to compare the US experience of Muslim immigration with that of the UK, France and elsewhere. The problem is that whereas the US system encouraged these Muslim migrants to find their own way (and therefore implicitly encouraged integration and education), the socialist systems of Europe have, to varying degrees, prevented or dissuaded integration whilst simultaneously providing a social security framework that allowed people to ‘opt out’ of the mainstream and ensconce themselves in cultural and geographic ghettos.

    In other words, the social security systems of these countries provide a form of cultural protectionism where, like all forms of protectionism, bad ideas and perversions are afforded a level of protection that ensures they can continue to operate and spread. It’s easy to be an extremist when you are on the dole and your ongoing survival doesn’t depend on how well you can compete with others in the same labour market, same housing market, etc.

  54. Amir – that is pretty much the crux of the problem. given that Australia’s system is somewhere in between the two, what outcome do you predict?

    i am rapidly coming to the conclusion that just about everything that is wrong in the world can be traced back to unconditional welfare.

  55. Pommy — as coincidence would have it, I just finished “a thousand splendid suns”. Not a bad read. Contrary to you, I didn’t find the message to be “Islam is evil”, but that some people do bad shit and some people have crappy lives. Both the good and bad characters are Muslims.

    I strongly doubt that people not choosing to join the voluntary sharia-law private courts will be killed. If your argument against allowing Muslims to enter voluntary contracts is based the idea that most Muslims want to kill, rape and pillage all of the sheep in NZ (or whatever new weird anti-Islam scare story you have) then I think it’s a pretty weak argument.

    I think all people (including Muslims) should be allowed to enter into voluntary contracts free from government intervention.

  56. Terje, Yeah I know you weren’t taking sides.

    What I was assuming is that if Sharia courts went into crim law, the accused could elect to be prosecuted in either a regular or Sharia court. (because this is how the courts currently operate for civil cases – I assume both parties must agree). This situation is still different to your military and international examples where the accused ultimately doesn’t have a choice of where to be tried.
    And when applying this idea to crim law, this would definitely be wrong IMO.
    Also, the existence of a choice of courts could be a dangerous thing even for civil cases. – Ultimately you need one final court, of highest authority.

    I’m still against the need for Sharia courts. I think it’s important to guard the separation of church and state and important for the state to base legal science on principle and theory as opposed to just faith and ancient texts that obviously don’t respect human rights and freedoms. Granting legal validity to Sharia law is dangerous full stop because you must pick and choose. And once you’ve allowed this law some validity, you then have to draw a line in the sand, and defend that line – which is what the English will now have to do.

    What I’m saying is that if you immigrate to another country and you want to set up contracts, wills, marriage arrangements based on your religion, then that’s fine. Just make sure you take the responsibility of drawing up a clear contract that can then be enforced by a regular court. Why should one race or religion or any collective get special treatment when it comes to the law?
    NB/ I regard law enforcement as a different function to business and the providing goods and services.

    Incidentally, a country’s way of life, culture etc is partly due to it’s legal system and politics. And in an ideal world, people will definitely consider this when immigrating in the first place. eg/ Irish or Italians immigrating to the “land of the free” in the 19th century.

  57. John

    strangely enough, neither did i. i found the message of the book to be that women lead tough and second-class lives under Sharia. nothing more, nothing less.

    where do you get off on such nonsensical accusations as ‘islam is evil’, and your bizarre sheep analogy.

    your comment is weird. stop smoking whatever it is you are smoking.

  58. The feminists are the bigots, not the patriarchists. Patriarchy=family values; feminism=lies and government tyranny.

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