Shariah in Victoria

Opposing shariah (Islamic law) is more effective than campaigning against Islam, which is, after all, a religion, and therefore out-of-bounds under most Western constitutions. The move to ban shariah is what recent initiatives in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and other American states have been about.

The situation is different in Australia. The state of Victoria has already allowed the shariah camel’s nose under the tent by providing for the application of foreign law in its Charter of Human Rights. Many thanks to the Australian tipster who sent this op-ed from The Australian:

Charter opens door to Sharia law recognition

THE issue of Sharia law and human rights is rippling around the world.

In the US state of Oklahoma, voters recently approved a proposal that forbids state courts from considering or using international laws, as well as Sharia, or Islamic law.

A US federal judge has suspended the certification of that change to the law because it might breach the constitutional rights of individual Muslims.

In Victoria, the Charter of Human Rights actually permits the use of international laws and judgments in applying the charter.

Section 14 of that charter provides for freedom of religion. The issue then arises, does this mean that Muslims are entitled to have Shariah law applied to them in the Victorian courts?

Obviously, Islam is a religion. Less obvious, but more important is that, unlike Christianity, Islam is a complete religion governing every aspect of the believer’s life, including law.

Shariah law is actually an integral part of the Islamic religious belief and, under the charter, must be protected and applied. Section 32(2) of the charter throws more light on the issue.

That subsection states: “International law and the judgments of domestic, foreign and international courts and tribunals relevant to a human right may be considered in interpreting a statutory provision.”

It is important to understand that there are “courts and tribunals” applying Shariah law to the 1.6 billion Muslims in the Muslim world.

In addition to that, the Islamic world has its own Human Rights Covenants — the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, 1990, which is intended to “serve as a general guidance for member states in the field of human rights”.

In the Cairo Declaration, it is made clear that all human rights derive from the Koran.

For example: “There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Shariah” (Article 19(d)); “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this declaration are subject to the Islamic Shariah” (Article 24); and “The Islamic Shariah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration” (Article 25).

These human rights must be fully respected. Australian Muslims deserve no less.

Decisions on Islamic human rights must be relevant in deciding whether Shariah law is applicable in Victoria.

Quite obviously, those Islamic decisions powerfully state that Shariah law must be applied. The Victorian courts must consider these decisions under the charter, thus it makes it very likely that, at some stage in the future, Shariah law will be applied.

Further, there is precedent in Victoria through courts that are for the exclusive use of a minority group, in this instance Aborigines (known in Victoria as Kooris).

As a matter of principle, there is no difference between special courts that are racially defined (Koori courts) to those which are religiously defined (Shariah courts).

In fact, the Muslims have a much stronger case because their devoutly held beliefs actually include a legal system (Shariah).

It is this sort of process that the Oklahoma citizens voted against. In Victoria it is too late.

Peter Faris, QC, is a Melbourne barrister and media commentator

7 thoughts on “Shariah in Victoria

  1. We have serious people in the Nashville-Murfreesboro area of Tennessee (USA) that are dedicated to opposing building of mosques & madrassa in their communities; also, the invading forces of Council of American Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) efforts in all 50 states.

    I’ll pass this post along to them.
    Buona Fortuna! God Bless Elisabeth!

    ___ ___

  2. It’s very important to place sharia “courts and tribunals” between quotation marks. While mahoundians refer to our secular courts as “voodoo courts”, because their origins can in no way, shape or form be traced back to a giant black cube and a child-molesting desert pirate from the Arabian Peninsula; sharia “courts and tribunals”, as pictures from an old article from the Daily Mail can attest, are a bunch of bearded and turbaned inbred bedouin savages sitting around a table, eating shortbread and drinking tea and deciding how to apply their barbaric customs to matters which, if adjudicated on in civilized countries, should be left to secular courts only.

  3. The question is whether Victoria is going to start applying Sharia law to crimes committed by Muslims. If it does, that means Muslims can murder their children, rape and beat their wives, and kill apostates with impunity. They can also harm infidels with impunity. I can’t wait until a Muslim appeals to demand a Sharia criminal court try his case. Will Victoria stand tall and say no?

  4. Although there’s plenty that gives me cause for alarm in Victoria, I think that Mr Faris is overstating his position in this case. The Act serves to constrain the ability of Parliament to enact laws that trample on rights and freedoms, and to regulate the activity of public officials. The right to freedom of religion includes the right to adopt the religion of one’s choice–which is a right over and above the right given by the Cairo Declaration. My biggest worry is that the right to freedom of expression can be curtailed in the interest of varying causes, including national security, but also including ‘morality’–this could be stretched by some to include some concept of blasphemy, but I do note that we no longer have a blasphemy law. A bigger worry is the anti-vilification legislation that has enabled offended persons to cause considerable stress and legal fees to people. And, of course, the whole PC thing that means that there are some opinions that you avoid articulating unless you really know to whom you are articulating them.

    In general, ‘rights’ should be read as ‘freedoms’ and not ‘entitlements’–there is no entitlement of Shariah to trump the laws of Victoria and such an entitlement will arise over my dead body.

  5. It may also be worth noting that Shariah would actually violate the Federal Constitution, and therefore, an appeal to the High Court could strike down any judgement made under Shariah should such appeals be made.

    It’s also good to note that the Commonwealth would have a hard time getting a bill of rights like Victoria’s through (based on precedent, the High Court could rule it unconstitutional, at which point it needs a referendum which will probably fail), and that only the ACT has a charter like it. No other state or territory has such a charter (though they were under consideration, they’ve generally been shot down).

    And I could also guarantee that if such events did occur, there would be a massive push to get the Victorian charter repealed. One law for all, and all that jazz.

Comments are closed.