Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Yesterday the Afghan ambassador to Canada and the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan addressed an audience at the Fraser Institute in Vancouver on Canada's role in Afghanistan. (The venue was slightly different from what was presented in the notice.)

A woman in the audience was able to confront the Afghan ambassador and ask him why Canada should continue to support Afghanistan if it does not share the same values as Canada. This was asked in view of the fact that Rahman Abdul, a Christian convert, is being held in Kabul and the judge has stated that if he is convicted of converting to Christianity he faces execution.

The Afghan ambassador answered that the government of Afghanistan fully respects the teachings of both Jesus and Moses. He said that he did not have a concrete answer but that he hopes that his governement will live up to its obligations under international law.

In spite of this hopeful comment, it is important to remember that Afganistan is currently trying to create a judiciary system that encorporates both international law and Sharia law.

In another situation in Ontario last year, Sharia law also became a concern. A group of Canadian women, both Christian and Communist, got involved in the protest against Sharia law when it was being considered as one possible basis for settling family and other disputes in the Arbitration Act. The BBC has a detailed report here on the mixed reaction to the consideration of using Sharia law in Ontario,
    In a peaceful Toronto park, as the rain began to fall, several of these women told me why they are so viscerally opposed to the idea of Muslim religious law being used in Canada.

    "I came here to escape Sharia," one woman told me. "Under it, a woman is worth half a man. He can divorce her and she has no rights."

    Another woman who was tortured in Iran told me the very word Sharia made her shiver. To her it is synonymous with a brutal form of authoritarianism, which discriminates against women.

We need to continue to stand up against all forms of repression and human rights offenses.

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