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Monday, March 24, 2014

Fears of a Theocratic Britain: How Far has the UK Truly Gone down the Sharia Law Rabbit Hole

I wouldn't even know where to start with the level of controversy, and even greater confusion, that has emerged since the incremental introduction of Sharia Law into the British legal system. My colleagues across the pond have some serious misapprehensions about the subject, while the locals also have their own share of misapprehensions.

Dear Citizens, here's more crap to muddle your law...
Well, not entirely.
The concerns against, as well as arguments in defence of, these legal changes highlight two primary contentions, one of them in opposition and the other in favour. The first argument, made by the critics of this legal framework, carries the unsubstantiated assumption that Sharia Law is on its way to becoming a fundamental mode of legislation over both criminal and civil matters, which is simply not true. Their opponents, or proponents of these changes, argue that this broadening of the legal system is simply there as an elective matter to accommodate the specific needs of those who might want their finances managed under Islamic tenants, which are purely partial and very much civil law matters. Unfortunately, this is also a gross oversimplification and one that ignores some serious moral and ethical ramifications that arise from this kind of special privilege.


Sharia Law in the UK: The Realities

As a legal framework, it isn't the fundamental mode of legislation; not even close. In fact, Sharia in UK is entirely elective, optional, and strictly for civil, personal, financial and business matters for dispute resolution. In fact, the Jews have had similar legal provisions for a long while in order to help with the mediation process through a cultural and religious methods that can often help the cases, although the efficiency or absolute need for any of these provisions could still be questioned (Casciani, 2014).

Nevertheless, human beings are undergoing a constant cultural evolution and many of them are indeed still limited, or stunted by the doctrine that was imposed upon them from birth, it's a hard cage to break. Many individuals, well intentioned and well educated, continue to rationalise their cognitive biases and irrational attachment to superstition as a means to justify their roles as decent members of society. In the case of theological bias, many assume that the empty corrupt vessel needs the religion to shine at its best, and thinking beyond such parameters is a logical impossibility for many folk.

So, at the end of the day, if they turn to pure hogwash, nonsense, bullshit, poppycock, as a means to maintain or find positive direction, then that is truly their personal choice and our civil sense of liberty makes great concession for this fundamental right of choice. It still doesn't make an elective, joint-module to the legal system all that practical or entirely justified—given the technical issues of gender inequality and potential abuse—that arise from Sharia, even in its neutered, reduced, partial, modernised form. However, it does speak to the freedom of choice, and as far as the legalities are concerned, no one is being forced to observe Sharia law, and that includes everything from Sharia wills, legal documents and conflict mediation (Molloy, 2014). It does seem entirely optional for those sad, or otherwise mentally shackled dimwits who cannot make individually informed decisions and are much more comfortable with having their lives micromanages according to scripture.

Frankly, I find the idea of Halal and Kosher meat much more disturbing given the outdated and utterly tortuous execution policy that goes into the process of slaughter, but even that has little bearing on freedom at a social and individual level. 

As it stands, Sharia courts and legal documents—in this country—are nothing more than an optional module of the civil side of the legal system, simply for those who wish to utilise the option. The British Legal system and sense of freedom and democracy are going nowhere; in fact, a bit too true to their spirit, they're adopting this optional feature to widen legal choice and options. This fact has also been confirmed and further reaffirmed by the Ministry of Justice (Bingham, 2014).


But Was it Ever Necessary?

Absolutely not necessary, despite being debatable, as any level of dispassionate observation of the facts would support the criticism directed at the pointlessness of having Sharia in the British legal system. So the practical question that we should be pondering is what any of this implies for the consistency, future security and integrity of fundamental British institutions put in place to protect what we consider civilised, democratic values. This isn't just a purely secular or 'western' concern, as plenty of Moslems in favour of reform also stand against Sharia.

It would be hard to deny that all of this does raise some serious concerns about where we are headed as a society. From an collective-intelligence and pragmatism standpoint, this is indeed a step backwards. An intelligent society, where individualism and personal volition are to be encouraged, an individual can easily seek private guidance in matters of finances and life to confirm to scripture requirements, if required. This puts into question why our legal system must be inconvenienced with the task of accommodating something so trivial and ultimately, optional.

Frankly, Sharia has no practical place in this form under UK law—while its large scale legislative form in Islamic theocracies is utterly barbaric and unacceptable—since people are free to conduct their lives as they chose to conduct them anyway. Want a will to address dispersion of assets a certain way? Get a religious consultant and do it yourself! Want your mortgage or loan managed a certain way? We didn't need Sharia for that as we already have banks that offer the handling of money in accordance with the individual's religious wishes, including a specific Sharia option that is pretty much offered by every bank; the free market has already accommodated Islamic requirements and is rather inclusive. Therefore, it really makes little logistical or practical sense to further entrench something so pointless into our legal institutions when individuals have the option to avail it privately anyway.

Instead, this kind of pointless expansion of our legal system opens the gateway for serious criticism and also speaks to the potential vulnerabilities within our own legal hierarchy that might, dare I say, get abused. Really, who's to say that this won't become a matter of an ugly slippery slope? The moment you give Sharia—even in this utterly limited form—a place in the legal paradigm, how long will it be before some dogmatic maniac demands that his 'adulteress wife' by mere accusation/allegation and the utterly outdated 'male witness' protocol of Sharia, be put to death, and by stoning no less? Obviously, this is an impossibly far-fetched scenario as one would assume, with absolute confidence, that our legal system can't be so daftly contorted to allow something so fucking maniacal to transpire, or for that matter, to allow any manner of slippery slope religious escalation to contaminate the fundamental human rights and dignity of British citizenship.

Despite what concessions can be made, and despite a generous benefit of doubt, the question of necessity continues to be begged: How is a parallel legal system necessary in any shape other than to enable and support a sinister, theocratic takeover of UK's legal paradigm?


One Legal System to Rule them All – No Fucking Less and No Fucking More

There is plenty to be proud of in the enlightenment and humanity of the value system in much of the civilised world. The counter-culture brigade will surely point to many serious underlying issues in our economy, politics and foreign policies, but it is through the same value system that we are openly able to address these issues, something that cannot be said about any other system or meta-culture in the world.

With this system, comes the freedom of personal choice, self-determination and individual rights. This means that our legal frame work is essentially divorced of any cultural or religious bias other than the basic rights of the individual's integrity and freedom. The notion that such individuals rights should be protected, but by the same token, should not be disproportionate to the rights and quality of life of another individual; one's freedom and basic entitlements should not infringe upon the freedom and basic entitlements of others who partake in the same social contract.

To insist otherwise—to add more clutter and potential confusion—to a single, humane, objective, open-ended system that deals with real matters of genuine legal value and social importance, is in a sense, a perversion of justice. You heard that right, perversion of justice; because you're making a special exception for a special group, and with this, we're back to the special privilege enjoyed by religion in this country, so long as it can ride on the minority card, which the media loves for baiting purposes. A card that is also known for furthering the cultural divides, fears, stigmas and the resulting social anxiety that breeds culture wars. 


Racism? Bigotry? You're Comically Deluded!

Now if anyone's reading this and getting the urge to falsely cry foul over non-existant racism or bigotry, then I would not only tell them to fuck off for demonstrating intellectual dishonesty, but also remind them that I support a single set of secular laws for a noble reason and purpose. The purpose being that all individuals receive equal and quality representation, where their human rights, dignity and personal quality of life—no less, no more—are protected, regardless of their personal superstitions, allegiances... and idiocy. This would be the most anti-racist and anti-bigotry agenda that one can hold and I reaffirm my proud stance against bigotry and racism on this note.

Many idealisms present Justice as a blind and devoted guardian, and I am telling you right now that there is nothing blind, safeguarding, or just, about creating an unnecessary, prone-to-abuse, offshoot of an already existing, humane legal system that caters—quite blindly/indiscriminately—to everyone regardless of gender or ideology. One legal system is what we had, and defending the integrity and fundamental, humane essence of that system is what everyone needs to support, regardless of personal beliefs or petty differences.

Of course, despite reading this, if you some people still feel the urge to be exceptional twits about the matter, with the urge to not only take offence, but expect special privilege for taking that offence and demanding that others be silenced as reparation, then that is also fine. Idiots, morons, and nimrods are free to make public exhibits of themselves; I'm all about free speech. I am also definitely about having more subjects—to mock—that speak to the state of evolution and diversity, because never before in history have the stupid or the arrogantly dishonest had more representation. Never have these imbeciles and charlatans been heard on such open platforms (Hey there, Anti-Vaccers... Nice measles!) than in today's setting, thanks to these often taken-for-granted democratic justice institutions that allow them the freedom and dignity... even if only to make complete fools of themselves by virtue of things like seeking special privilege in matters of free speech.


References

Bingham, J. (2014, March 23). Sharia law in UK: calls for Parliamentary inquiry - Telegraph. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10717575/Sharia-law-in-UK-calls-for-Parliamentary-inquiry.html

Casciani, D. (2008, July 4). BBC NEWS | UK | Q&A: Sharia law explained. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7234870.stm

Molloy, A. (2014, March 23). Islamic law to be enshrined in British law as solicitors get guidelines on 'Sharia compliant' wills - Home News - UK - The Independent. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/islamic-law-to-be-enshrined-in-british-law-as-solicitors-get-guidelines-on-sharia-compliant-wills-9210682.html

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