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WEISS: A spine for a spine with Shariah

Creeping Islamic fundamentalist law threatens human rights

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Many today chant a mantra demanding justice, but just what does that mean? Let's look at how one court in Saudi Arabia interprets justice pursuant to Shariah law.

Recently, Saoud bin Suleiman al-Youssef, a Saudi judge, made inquiries at two hospitals asking if they would be able to medically damage a defendant's spine. He is considering this as punishment for a defendant who attacked 22-year-old Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, rendering him paralyzed. The defendant had been ordered to spend 14 months in jail, but after seven months, he was granted amnesty and is teaching at a university. The victim's brother requested that the judge consider ordering a spine for a spine, explaining that "we are asking for our legal rights under Islamic [Shariah] law." One of the hospitals, King Khaled Hospital in Tabuk province, answered the judge's inquiry in the affirmative. To date, the judge has not made a final determination on the victim's brother's request.

So what is Shariah law? Shariah law is a strict interpretation of Islamic law that merges mosque and state. It is a complete system that encompasses the legal, spiritual, political, economic and personal aspects of life. It mandates gender apartheid among those who are not married and, in its extreme form, forbids women to be outside the home without being escorted by a male relative. It requires strict dress codes, eating codes and behavioral codes. Music and dancing are forbidden. Freedom of religion and expression is severely restricted. Criminal punishments are cruel and excessive. Various forms of Shariah law are implemented in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Pakistan and by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It also is implemented in numerous other Muslim-majority localities.

Governments ruled by Shariah law regularly violate international standards of human rights, fail to meet legal standards of due process and mete out punishments that are contrary to international torture conventions. For example, Saudi Arabia holds its trials behind closed doors, does not allow defendants adequate legal counsel or due process, often refrains from informing the defendants of the charges against them, and communicates death sentences on the day of execution. According to the State Department, Saudi Arabia holds men-only elections and tramples upon numerous civil liberties. Discrimination against women, children and minorities is institutionalized. As in all Shariah-governed countries, adultery, homosexuality and apostasy constitute capital offenses.

Additionally, the principle of "an eye for an eye" is often interpreted literally. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia and other countries governed by Shariah law, court-ordered amputation of arms and legs is not uncommon. Indeed, according to Amnesty International, in the past five years, Pakistan has issued court orders requiring a defendant's teeth be removed for knocking out someone else's teeth. Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have issued orders to blind defendants with acid or via eye removal as punishment for blinding another. Needless to say, none of this is done with anesthesia, as pain is part and parcel of the punishment.

There is no doubt that many Muslims eschew violence as well as the notion of government-implemented Shariah. Shariah law is nonetheless spreading, based on a movement to expand the ideology worldwide. Despite Saudi Arabia's claim that it is "clamping down" on religious extremism, it remains the largest exporter of Wahhabi Islam, arguably responsible directly or indirectly for "homegrown radicalization" in the West. Indeed, some terrorism experts assert that as many as 80 percent of the mosques in America are heavily influenced by Saudi money and preach some sort of hatred.

The West is a long way off from the brand of "justice" contemplated in Saudi Arabia by the likes of Judge al-Youssef. Nevertheless, we must be aware that other aspects of Shariah are seeping into Western culture. The radical goals of religious extremists who seek to extract unreasonable accommodations from unbelievers need not be won through violence or war. Social pressure, political correctness, accusations of Islamophobia, political pressure and lobbying can serve as slower but more effective means to achieve the same anti-freedom goals. Starting with encroachments on free speech, as in the cases of Geert Wilders, Mark Steyn and Theo van Gogh, so-called hate-speech laws kowtow to a population that hides its supremacist beliefs behind calls for the "sensitivity" and "political correctness" of others, all the while preaching hatred behind closed doors.

Most people in America care not one whit what the private religious and spiritual beliefs of others are, nor do they care what god people worship. The problem comes when those who do not believe in separation of mosque and state seek to make the religious political. The prototypical case in point is Europe, which has become visibly Islamized and is gradually relinquishing its freedom and way of life. In France, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, we see the natural consequences of wrongheaded amnesty immigration policies, multiculturalism and moral relativism. If we stand idly by, America will be next. You are forewarned.

Deborah Weiss is a lawyer and a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine.

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