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Reply to Hari Iyer

Reader comment on item: Enforce Islamic Law in Canada?

Submitted by Raphael (United States), Sep 28, 2005 at 11:57

Hari Iyer wrote:
"Unlike Canada and other western european 'almost' islamic countries, the citizens of United States are protected by the US Constitution which overrules anything else. The first amendment allows an individual to say what he wants to say, if it means, telling an islamic adherent to go pound sand when islamists seek to establish institutionalized discrimination in the form of sharia."

Unlike the United States, the citizens of Canada are protected by the Canadian Constitution. The Charter of Rights and Freedom allows an individual to say what he or she wants. This sort of provision appears fairly regularly in the constitutions of western nations. I wasn't aware that the U.S. was claiming exclusivity.

"If US Constitution were to rule in Canada, then a judge can tell Sharia enthusiasts that they can practice what they want as long as the constitution overrides anything that appears to be discriminatory in nature, and the individual has an ability to sue if that person feels cheated by 'sharia' ruling."

Let me assure Mr. Iyer, as an Ontario solicitor, that there is nothing preventing the Canadian judiciary from making similar rulings. It appears that Mr. Iyer has completely misunderstood the entire gist of this issue. The Ontario authorities always did indicate that any agreement reached in the context of faith-based arbitration of family law disputes could not conflict with Canadian law or it would be void and unenforceable. We certainly didn't need to hear this from the politicians either, as the Canadian Constitution overrides all, including legislation that is inconsistent with constitutional provisions. The fear was that immigrant women, suffering undue pressure from their communities and family, would consent to this sharia arbitration against their better judgment. There is nothing preventing legislators in the States from attempting to go down a similar path.

... It may come as a surprise to Mr. Iyer and his ilk that many Canadians shudder at the thought of the fundamentalist Christian rule currently enjoyed by the States, where the school systems are seriously considering replacing the study of evolution with "intelligent design". It is something that the Taliban would applaud, I am sure.
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