WENTE, Margaret (mwente@globeandmail.ca) "Stone her to death: Family Values," Toronto Globe and Mail, August 27th. 2002.

by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)

Went wonders why "Many nations have weighed in with public protests from high-level political officials. Inexplicably, Canada has not."

This is what the Globe and Mail reports about the well-known facts of the case.. Amina Lawal is a penniless, illiterate villager aged 30 from the northern part of Nigeria, where sharia (Islamic law) has been imposed in 12 of Nigeria's states. She was married at 14 or so and had two children before she was divorced and told to get lost by her husband. Then she met a local tax collector, who she says promised to marry her. When she became pregnant, he at first admitted that he was the father, but then he took it back. It's not likely he'd ever be convicted of wrong doing; that would require four witnesses, plus his own confession.

Amina's crime is that she had a baby, now eight months, named Wasila. That was all the proof they needed of her guilt according to sharia law in northern Nigeria. Wente reports that she was sentenced to be taken out to a public square, buried up to her neck and stoned until she's dead -- just as soon as she weans her baby. When the sentence was pronounced, the men in the public gallery cheered. "God is great!" they cried. "This is a triumph of Allah's law against the enemies of sharia," said one young man in the crowd, an Islamic studies student. A Muslim leader in Uganda warned that Amina's fate is based on "divine injunctions promulgated by Allah himself."

What has that to do with us in Canada? "Amina's case is entirely a religious one, so nobody has the right to meddle in it," said a spokesman for the local state whose court condemned her. Muslim religious groups have denounced outsiders' protests. "It is most unfortunate that some people could interfere in an issue that does not bother them," declared one Nigerian Islamic group. "A billion eyes of the whole world cannot make us abandon our religion and jettison our faith as dictated by the sharia."

Why should this concern us, and why is it important for us to take a stand on this matter, as Margaret Wente suggests? A first reason is that Muslim fundamentalists intend to enforce sharia law in Canada as soon as they have enough clout to do this. They have already announced that this is the agenda for Britain. And very rapid demographic growth is certainly on their side.

A second is that the hard-won rights of women to a modicum of rights at law is called into question by fundamentalist Muslims in the name of religion. Not enough moderate Muslims are willing to speak out in favor of women's rights. We need to encourage them.

A third reason is even more basic. In Europe we had a long bitter fight to remove the vicious intrusion of religion into the administration of justice by the state. Under the pretext of the right to freedom of religion under the Canadian Bill of Rights, Muslim fundamentalists are trying to reintroduce religious bigotry to deny basic human rights. We should fight every step in this direction, and we should call on Canadian Muslims to take their stand with us on the very idea of sharia law in our country.

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