Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sharia law- On the road to madness?

Interesting to see the piece on Stephen Hockman QC's views on Sharia law (as below, though it was the Birkenhead Society and not Islam4UK that organised the debate). Currently Sharia law is applied by lay tribunals for certain commercial and family disputes. Contrary to Stephen Hockmann QC's view that full sharia law needs to be brought in to prevent alienation of Moslems, there is a strong case to be made that its inclusion would have exactly the opposite effect. Its inclusion would lead to further fragmentation of the law and, in turn, a lack of social cohesion. This is because we would be enforcing and exacerbating the differences between communities by creating different laws for different people. This would further unedify the idea of nationhood and the importance of having a singular identity which is currently provided by having one law of the land.

A singular system of law protects a singular system of values, despite differences in view as to what some of those values might be. In a our democracy once one value is chosen through the political process it is the value we all adhere by. A simple example of this would be the making certain forms of fox-hunting illegal. Different systems of law would make enforcing the disparate systems extremely difficult, and would undermine the great values associated with traditional British democracy. It would also undermine the working of the Parliamentary process, that has a monopoly over the law where rule-making is done through debate and discussion. It would allow other
law-making processes to take place, and taken to the extreme, permit an oppressive law-making regime to function freely in a separate community or a separate part of the country.

The importance of having a singular law to govern people of differing races, cultures, and religions is vital to the functioning of any society, such as Britain, that values pluralism, the freedom of ideas and toleration. It is also important in providing social cohesion where there are peoples from varying backgrounds and culture, and to promote extra-ordinary values of the great intrinsic British culture and heritage. Further, only through a singular rule of law that is not arbitrary in its form, content or application can fair system of Government operate. This is particularly important where there is, as in Britain, different peoples from different backgrounds. The rule of a singular law provides the vital cohesion needed for a variety of people to work and function together. To bring about different rules to different parts of the populous is to fragment both state and society. It would leave open the possibility of apartheid, on the basis of ideas and culture. In turn this would encourage isolationism towards national interest and the lack of cohesiveness would unedify interest in the function of our nation state.

The alienation of the Moslem community from the mainstream of our society that a Sharia law would bring about would also increase further the chances of younger members of the Moslem community being radicalised. It would leave fundamental Islam unchecked as it would be left to be self-judged within a distinct system of values. The end result, due to enforced differences between community groups may lead to distrust, fear and loathing. The notion of one nation may quickly fade away.

Hockmann also conveniently forgets what radical forms of Islam stand for. Alienation and abuse of women are rife amongst some countries that follow Islamic law. These proposals would leave open the risk of marginalising progressive and moderate Moslems who wish to practice their religion through our secular state. It would leave to rot Moslem women who have been campaigning for reform in their own community and through the world through the platform provided by British liberalism. If radical elements of Islam are to be dealt with, then giving a carte blanche to unlimited application of the Sharia is certainly not the way forward.


On the other-side of the spectrum there is a need to evaluate whether the rise of political support for other extreme groups such as the BNP is linked to the institutional quasi-liberalism that Hockmann represents. Quasi-liberalism is being liberal for the sake of liberal and forgetting the responsibility of making a value-judgment. The rise of the far right is another form of fragmentation that undermines the cohesive of the nation state. It may bring plurality, but at the cost of undermining that which the plurality of ideas is supposed to serve- the nation state. This is by giving further unneeded assistance to extremism. Quasi-liberalism of this type is not Gladstonian liberalism. It is a form of gratuitous sentiment that has no regard to the large historical processes that gave rise to the nation state, and alienates its people by forgetting or disregarding their history and culture. Thus quasi-liberalism of leading figures such as Hockmann fuels extremism, such as that found in the BNP, by undermining the British identity.

Britain is an extra-ordinary country with a unique and powerful history. It needs to remain one nation in order to promote its political ideals of free-speech, toleration and democracy to the world. The unedification of disparate legal systems does not have to be brought in to undermine this. Mr Hockmann QC needs to sit down and re-think the implications of his suggestions on such a difficult and complex issue.

(For Hockman QC’s views: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/3523672/Sharia-law-should-be-introduced-into-legal-system-says-leading-barrister.html)
APG Pandya ©

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

QUESTIONING A JUDGE’S RIGHT TO PUBLIC DEFENCE:

It is worth noting, see link below, that Lord Pannick last week in the House of Lords proposed that judges should be able to speak out against criticism given to them by politicians. I respectfully disagree as there are inherent dangers with respect to this. This would open the back door for judicial intervention into politics. This would be unconstitutional as it would permit unelected officials to have a say in matters of politics and public policy. This politicisation of the judicial role also undermine the independence of the judiciary.

The comment in question was made with respect to Paul Dacre’s criticisms of Sir David Eady, judge of the High Court of England and Wales. Sir David Eady has interpreted British libel law to ban a book, namely Rachel Enhrenfeld’s ‘Funding Evil’. This is a powerful act that inveighs against our inherent right of free-speech in Britain that has taken several centuries to develop. One has to look no further back than ear-cropping of those who wrote against Elizabeth I, to understand what a struggle it was to establish freedom of speech in this country.

It is no doubt very likely that an activity of judges will be of interest to public and political opinion. However, for judges to have to defend their judgments from public opinion would undermine the integrity and independence of the legal system. I very much hope that the power of the judge in making libel law is thoroughly questioned by politicians and the media, and that judges are aware of the heavy criticism that follows. Libel law in its most draconian form can be used to excoriate and supress genuine opinion, where it is not factual - and this has the danger of concomitantly suppressing the freedom of speech. Paul Dacre was right to scrutinise Sir David Eady, and appropriately there can be no recourse for the judge. It is for Parliament to put right any inappropriate wondering of the judge as it sees fit, and not for the judge to defend him or herself.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/lawreports/joshuarozenberg/3480379/Privacy-judge-only-doing-his-duty-says-peer.html

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3756954.ece

For Lord Pannick's views: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/81118-
> 0016.htm

APG Pandya

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Be wary of the President who wants 'peace'.

Now, finally, Islamic fundamentalism has the President of its choice. Obama believes in peace and that's such a great thing isn't it? Suspicions and raised eyebrows should start there. Obama campaigned on removing US troops from Iraq, content in leaving the Iraqi people; with a half-finished, half-baked job; at the hands of militants. The threat of Islamic terrorism is as great now as ever, yet Obama the pacifist, will defeat them all with a sigh of peace. He thinks the fanatics will suddenly decide to stop waging the war because he wishes to remove and reduce US presence in both theatres. He is too na├»ve to realise that they do not hate for the sake of hating but for the destruction of the liberal West, that the US was just as much a risk from them the day before 9/11 as the day after. He doesn't quite grasp the geopolitics of territorial presence and influence. If the West is going to fight Islamic fascism, then a territorial foothold in the Middle East and Afghanistan has to be maintained for security and protection. The possibility to influence a move towards modern democratic governments in other states in the Middle East should not be lost. The Iranians are no doubt amused, that the voice of peace may finally give their nuclear programme the implicit consent it needs to carry on, whilst they live in a dictatorial regime that curtails fundamental freedoms with state sponsored censorship and does little to protect the rights of women. I still remember Obama’s keenness, early in the election, of wanting to get into bed with Ahmejinedad. This instinctive palm-greasing is a dangerous sign. It is the mark of a man who is willing to be a philanderer with integrity in order to gain on a desire to be liked. The possibility of Obama using US influence to change the world for the better, such as a voice for freedom, remains extremely dubious.

The election itself was a disgrace. I have never seen human beings pander in such a vile way to the lowest common denominator of race in an electoral process. Voting for someone because they are black, is as vile as voting for them because they are white, or pink or brown. If one looks beyond the man’s complexion there is very little in Obama’s empty rhetoric- How exactly is going to change the gulf between the rich and the poor that was made obvious by the faces suffering from Hurricane Katrina? He has never outlined any clear method of doing so, the electorate falling for nothing more than flamboyant vacuosity. McCain ran a terrible campaign, by god it was awful. Whilst going on about his war wounds, he never bothered to explain in full why they made him a better candidate. He had no clear game plan for a recession and did not seem wary of it. But then neither did Obama. What exactly is the President’s plan barring an increase of taxes? And is that even the right solution? When people are asked why they voted for him, it’s because of ‘change’. It is difficult to find a more empty and shallow proposition wanting of consideration than that. What and how are not questioned, spoken of, or asked about, hence their delivery becomes near impossible to assess. I am glad to have an ‘African-American’ one said. As if one was trying to bury an old hatchet in some way, it is childish and unedifying to formulate one’s opinions in this way. I would have been embarrassed. Does the choice of Obama for the reason of race mark the dawn of a new era, or reaffirm the existence of an age old apartheid? Obama's victory is a telling sign that many Americans could not see beyond the race issue, and failed to distinguish McCain, a radical in the Republican camp, from the President that was Bush. But the Republicans had fought a war and won, and only the most complacent of Americans have forgotten how important that was to corroborating US Security post 9/11. Once Obama pursues his campaign of peace fully, it is the Islamic fundamentalists that would have been the real victors of last night. They know that peace and toothlessness are one and the same.

APG Pandya.