It was all perfectly legal, in strict compliance with time-honoured legal principles.
A Sharia court in a Syrian province under jihadist control charged a young woman with adultery a few days ago.
The case was tried according to the due process of Islamic law, and the defendant was found guilty.
Since her crime carried a mandatory death sentence, she was taken out to the market square and publicly stoned to death. Justice was served.
Now I happen to have in front of me the transcript of a similar case tried in the same region some 2,000 years ago.
There too the prosecution appealed to the judge asking that a woman taken in adultery be sentenced to death by stoning. In those barbaric times, however, the judge’s response was different, which the transcript confirms:
“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
This closing argument carried the day: “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one…”
The judge then pronounced his own verdict on the woman: “Go, and sin no more.”
These two legal precedents illustrate what any sane person would see as an unbridgeable gap between Muslim and Christian law.
If we accept that the gap is self-evidently unbridgeable, and also the equally indisputable fact that English common law is predominantly based on Christian antecedents, then the aforementioned sane person would have to conclude that Sharia law has no place in our country.
Yet here I am, looking at a Telegraph article written by a French Muslim Myriam François-Cerrah, a journalist doing something or other at Oxford University.
Miss François-Cerrah laments that there are merely 85 Sharia courts acting in Britain, a number she finds woefully inadequate. There “could be more”, she suggests, though demurring at suggesting the exact desirable number, or by which order of magnitude the present number should be increased.
To be fair, she doesn’t quite argue that Sharia should replace English common law altogether. All this reasonable woman wants is for Islamic law to be incorporated into the law of the land.
She then proceeds to explain the history and nature of Sharia in terms that would make a reasonably bright 10-year-old feel he’s being talked down to. According to her, Sharia law is nothing but a sort of marriage counselling service for women seeking divorce.
She cites one such woman saying that her husband “would never have listened to a relationship counsellor. But a shaykh, an older man with Islamic knowledge, that he respects”.
Now if the shaykh has not only Islamic knowledge but also Islamic faith, he must feel in his heart that it’s advisable for a man to have four wives. However, if one of them is unhappy about receiving only a quarter of his attentions and consequently takes a lover, she must be stoned to death.
Is this the nature of marriage counselling he offers? After all, adultery is by far the most common grounds for divorce.
At an unkind moment, one could feel that our ancient law may conceivably have problems with a situation wherein a man legally gets his rocks off with four wives, while a woman must be stoned to death for having enjoyed a single lover.
Miss François-Cerrah acknowledges that a certain unbalance exists, although she chooses to refer to rather more modern legislation: “There is undoubtedly real discrimination – some readings of Sharia promote principles which run counter to UK equality legislation.”
Quite. However, at the risk of being accused of bigotry, racial and religious discrimination, little-Englandism, political incorrectness and other capital sins, I may go a bit further than that.
Not ‘some readings’ of Sharia but Sharia tout court ‘runs contrary’ not only to ‘UK equality legislation’ but to common decency, as traditionally understood in the West generally and England specifically.
This is a law that says, among many other such things, that an apostate to Islam must be given one chance to return to the fold. If he turns it down, he must be killed.
The same goes for a kafir (infidel) who has never been a Muslim to begin with. He too must be offered one chance to convert, and failure to do so is again punishable by death.
One suspects that Miss François-Cerrah wouldn’t advocate these aspects of her beloved jurisprudence to be incorporated into English common law, though some pronouncements by the Archdruid Williams suggest that he might.
According to her, Sharia all boils down to a sort of counselling service with a religious dimension. What’s wrong with a pious woman seeking advice from an elder qualified to give it?
Nothing at all, I dare say. Some people whose marriage is on the rocks talk to a shrink. Some bore their friends, asking for advice they never intend to follow. Others buy drinks for strangers and barmen, demanding a sympathetic ear in return. Still others will listen to their priests, rabbis, imams or gurus, while really desperate (and tasteless) individuals may even attend group therapy.
Whatever makes them happy, I’d suggest, but with one important proviso. None of such sessions has – nor should ever be allowed to have – legal power. This in any civilised land can belong only to a duly instituted court of law translating into action the country’s constitutional principles.
Our constitutional principles are rooted in Christianity, which, as I tried to show earlier, is under no circumstances compatible with Islam. Muslims themselves agree with this uncompromising position, which is why they persecute and kill Christians all over the Islamic world.
Considering the source, I’m not unduly bothered by Miss François-Cerrah’s affection for Sharia – she’s a Muslim, so it’s par for the course. I also share her concern for the plight of Muslim women, who even in Britain are routinely treated like dirt in full compliance with Islam.
But it saddens me to see that she fails to understand something that ought to be taught in any elementary school: in Britain, any legal restitution for such mistreatment must be sought in British courts, whose understanding of the law goes back to the Middle East, circa first century AD.
I’m upset even more that a formerly reputable paper would see fit to publish such ignorant, childishly argued gibberish, thereby conferring on it some implicit respectability.
It won’t take many such rants for us to wish that freedom of the press be replaced with freedom from the press.