I'd forgotten, until reminded late this morning, that today is 7/7 the fourth anniversary of the London Tube and bus bombings. (Previous dispatches on the event, and a previous anniversary, are here, here, here, and here.)
So today seems a good, if not entirely un-controversial, day to point up the recent report: Sharia Law or ‘One law for all’? from the think-tank Civitas, as reported in the Times. Reviewing the effects and rulings of sanctioned Sharia law in Britain so far, it makes for sobering reading. Worse, I fear it is not likely to get nearly the exposure it probably deserves, so I'm pleased to do my tiny bit to shine a light on it.
'Such courts are handing down rulings that are likely to breach fundamental principles of British law … "The reality is that for many Muslims, Sharia courts are part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat … many of them are discriminatory against women and non-Muslims". Some "transgress human rights standards as they are applied by British courts".
Examples include: a Muslim woman should not have fertility treatment; may not under any circumstances marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam; may be coerced by her husband to have sex; a man may divorce his wife without telling her about it … a woman, who is restricted in leaving her home and driving a car, cannot marry anyone she chooses.
It is "a challenge to what we believe to be the rights and freedoms of the individual, to our concept of a legal system based on what Parliament enacts" and to the right of everyone to live in a society free from ethnic-religious division or claims to superiority, or special "above-the-law" status. Far from helping integration, any further encouragement of Sharia will only "undermine the efforts of British Muslims struggling to evolve a version of Islam consistent with a tolerant and pluralistic society".'
My original comments on the institution of Sharia law in Britain (as well as some of Christopher Hitchens') can be read here.
And while I'm getting all bloggy, and while I'm mentioning Hitch: In the current Vanity Fair, Hitchens seems to be justifying his 'polemicist' title by taking a flying drop kick at the current PM's "Party of One". Recommended for any American who wants to know how Britons, in the main, feel about their leader; or for anyone who enjoys a particularly erudite, and particularly vicious, and terribly amusing, political broadside:
'This [the Labour trouncing in European Parliament elections] is not a defeat. It is a humiliation. And on exactly what question of principle was Labour brought so low? The main if not the sole "issue" appears to be the self-love and the self-pity of a prime minister Gordon Brown who has never won a general election or even a contested leadership election within his own party. He is in power only in order to be in power. For many years he waited as a resentful dauphin, swallowing his envy and bile. And then, like the fruit of the medlar tree, he went rotten before he was ripe.
In a party that used to pride itself on open debate, you hear dreadful whispers about carpet-biting, furniture-hurling spasms by someone whose contorted face reproduces the awful slobbering mask of a weak king.
Brown managed to insult the Queen, and the veterans of D-day on the Normandy beaches, for no better reason than that he wanted to hog the entire stage for himself. He got booed by the crowd on an occasion that is usually almost supernaturally silent, and then he contrived to make an idiot of himself by alluding to Omaha beach a near-totemic name for anyone with a sense of history as "Obama beach." Enough is enough.'
In the same issue, there's also a fantastic piece by James Wolcott on the disppearance of our outward signifiers of cultural snobbery into our e-book readers, MP3 players, and digital film downloads:
'When all our entertainment can fit on a microchip, James Wolcott asks, how will we display our superior tastes to houseguests, fellow subway riders, and potential mates?'
He really nails dead to rights us heavy-tome-toting subway riders not to mention our obverse numbers (often the same people), who make snap judgements, and develop elaborate fantasies, based on what people are reading in public places. Article sadly not online. Perhaps you'll want to pick up the current issue. Perhaps I'll post some excerpts from it when I get home tonight.