A focus on integration is key to defeating Sharia

Canadians, and especially Canadian Muslims, should stand up and fight against instances of creeping Sharia.

(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

North America has long been a land of freedom and opportunity, and Canada has a proud history of welcoming newcomers and integrating them into our society. Integration is key, and it’s based on the idea that newcomers embrace our values and institutions while being free to pursue their own hopes and dreams.

Newcomers enjoy all the rights and fundamental freedoms of Canadian citizenship, and in return, they are asked to embrace our way of life and adhere to Canadian laws. Immigration only works when it’s based on integration; it fails when integration is sacrificed to the doctrine of official multiculturalism.

Multiculturalists argue that newcomers should bring their own culture and values, and that there is no core or dominant culture. But what happens when newcomers seek to supplant their own laws and institutions? What happens, for instance, when Muslim immigrants want to impose Sharia Law?

In Islamist theocracies, Sharia Law is the set of religious rules that guide both public and private life. Sharia is an all-encompassing religious and political system, and while it can be interpreted in different ways, its fundamental principles are at odds with our Western legal system.

Most Muslims in Canada oppose Sharia Law, and some specifically came here to flee it. Others, though, have long been trying to bring Sharia to Canada.

Canada had its first taste of encroaching Sharia in 2003, when the Islamic Institute for Civil Justice announced its intention to establish panels that would use Sharia Law in Ontario. Controversy erupted and a group of Muslim activists stood up and fought against Sharia in Canada.

The fierceness of the debate prompted Ontario’s government to ask the province’s former attorney general to study the proposal for Sharia arbitration panels. Adhering to political correctness, the study concluded that the Sharia panels were legal, so long as several new safeguards were added.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, however, decided to ban Sharia panels, and in 2006, Ontario’s legislature passed a bill requiring all arbitration to be “conducted exclusively in accordance with the law of Ontario or another Canadian jurisdiction.”

Canada dodged a bullet by banning Sharia. But since this close call, efforts to seep Islamic law into our legal system have been stealth and often come as the result of cultural relativism and the doctrine of multiculturalism.

Take, for instance, the recent case of an Ottawa man who was found not guilty of sexual assault because the judge determined that the man’s Muslim faith led him to think he could have sex with his wife anytime he wanted.

The court heard stories of the man abusing his wife, and forcefully having sex with her even when she asked him to stop. But according to the judge, “both he and she believed that he had the right to do so.”

He may have that ‘right’ under Sharia Law, but not under Canadian law. In Canada, women have equal rights to men, and that means the right to say ‘no.’

This ruling is not an anomaly. Another recent Ontario court gave a Muslim man a reduced sentence after he was found guilty of abusing his children, hitting his wife and forcefully having sex with her.

The judge attributed the lighter sentence to “a significant culture gap” between accepted behavior in Canada and in his native Iran.

This is unacceptable. Canadians, and especially Canadian Muslims, should stand up and fight against instances of creeping Sharia.