Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2005.07.07, Four Years On
Plus: UK Sharia Courts, First Report
Plus: Hitch on King Gordon
Plus: The Digital Death of Literature Snobbery
"The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens."
- Thomas Jefferson
"To govern by promulgated established laws, not to be varied in particular cases, but to have one rule for rich and poor, for the favourite at court, and the countryman at plough."
- John Locke

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:

No, Prime Minister, by Christopher Hitchens

'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:

Whats A Culture Snob To Do?

'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.

  7/7     culture     excerpts     freedom     hitch     islam     politics  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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