The world's anti-Sharia crusaders should take a deep breath and count to 10 -- extreme Islamic law is not coming to central Canada. The Taliban are not being given a government building in which to preside over civil disputes among Muslims.
What, then, is happening to excite protests, scheduled for Sept. 8 in London, Paris, Amsterdam and several Canadian cities, organized by a group calling itself the International Campaign Against Sharia in Ontario?
A Muslim scholar simply wants to set up a private arbitration panel that would settle civil disputes, including some family matters, by using Islamic principles. It's not terribly radical to permit individuals to solve their disputes in their own way. Ontario families in conflict have for years been turning to arbitration. It's cheaper and less destructive than heading to court. And faith-based panels are allowed under the 1991 Arbitration Act. Those panels already exist in other communities, says a government-commissioned report, and they have not harmed women or children. The report said Islamic panels should be permitted, subject to new protections for vulnerable women and children (in all arbitrations, not just Muslim ones). (MORE)