A BLOG POST BY NAHLA MAHMOUD From my own experience living under an Islamic regime, I strongly oppose Sharia law and other religious-based laws. Instead, I deeply believe in secular, humanist values that treat human beings equally. International human rights are a testament to those values and oppose the discriminatory practices enshrined in and justified by Sharia law.
Sharia discriminates against women. A women’s testimony is worth half a man's in Islam. She gets half the inheritance of her male siblings and a woman’s marriage contract is between her male guardian and her husband. A man can have four wives; he can divorce by simply using the word “Talig.” A woman must give specific reasons to get a divorce. Even if the father is abusive, women who remarry lose custody of their children.
Children also suffer under Sharia with life-long implications. A girl is eligible for marriage as soon as she begins her first period. Considering there were at least 30 cases of child marriage recorded in the London borough of Islington in 2010, I wouldn’t bother to count the number of child marriages in Islamic states where it is legal.
Discrimination against children also occurs through preventing their exposure to different ideas and thoughts. Children from an Islamic background are often brought up to hate their Jewish, Christian and Hindu classmates, as well as any gay students in their class. One only needs to glance through any school curriculum from an Islamic state to see how it restricts critical thinking and any questioning of religious doctrine.
I believe it is everyone’s battle to ensure people are entitled to live under secular laws which enshrine basic human rights for women, including feminist, secular and liberal Muslims. We cannot limit human rights to ‘western values’ or ‘cultural sensitivity’.
We must each strongly and unequivocally demand one equal law for everyone - both in the UK and abroad.