Sharia is the answer to everything

The debate about Sharia courts sparked by the Rowan Williams has died down now, but an attempt has been made to re-activate the call for accommodating Sharia Law in the UK. The call has come from Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, who was interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme this week. Siddiqui is a part-time barrister, who spends his remaining time attempting to be a PR agent and advocate for his particular vision of Islam within Britain. He has been keen on the extension of Sharia law for some time, here he is in November 2006:

Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College Islamic University, near Nuneaton, Warwicks, said this type of court had advantages for Muslims. “It operates on a low budget, it operates on very small timescales and the process and the laws of evidence are far more lenient and it’s less awesome an environment than the English courts,” he said.Mr Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.“I was speaking to a police officer who said we no longer have the bobby on the beat who will give somebody a slap on the wrist.”So I think there is a case to be made under which the elders sit together and reprimand people, trying to get them to change.”

Siddqui has now decided to hitch a ride on the concern about forced marriage, and cleverly tied it in to combating extremism:

Sheikh Faiz Siddiqi, a barrister and a leading community figure, said the resentment and alienation created by forced marriages drove young British Muslims towards extremism.Combating extremism has dominated the British political agenda since the 2005 London suicide bombings, perpetrated by British Islamists.[…]The MAT [Muslim Arbitration Tribunal] now wants to start sorting out the problem “in-house.”

Siddiqui is an eloquent and persuasive speaker, who regularly turns up at Islamic Societies in UK Universities. He is not a ranter. However, he has also been a guest speaker for the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the people who run the Islamophobia Awards. The IHRC organise the Annual Al Quds Day March (including in October 2005 Dr Azzam “Kaboom!” Tamini), which was first initiated by Ayatollah Khomenini in the wake of the 1979 revolution in Iran. According to The Sun, in 2006 the Chairman of the IHRC, Massound Shadjareh called for “financial, logistical and informational support” for Hezbollah. The IHRC are a pro-Sharia radical Islamist organisation:

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is a radical Islamist organization that uses the language and techniques of a human rights lobbying group to promote an extremist agenda. Formed in 1997 by its current chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, the IHRC supports jihad groups around the world, campaigns for the release of convicted terrorists and promotes the notion of a western conspiracy against Islam.Shadjareh and the IHRC subscribe to the radical Islamist belief that Jewish conspiracies are afoot to undermine Muslims, and they liken Jews and Israelis to Nazis. Members of the IHRC’s board of advisors have even called on Muslims to kill Jews. They include the Saudi Islamist Muhammad al-Mas‘ari and Muhammad al-‘Asi, an American convert to Islam who was banned from preaching at his mosque in Washington, DC, and has been a frequent visitor to Britain

So what you might ask? Being a guest speaker is no big deal. However, Shadjareh and Siddiqui also go back a few years, both being signatories to a document called CHARTER 3: 103, which was a call for unity of the Muslim Ummah against their enemies.

For too long, the enemies of Islam and Muslims have been allowed to sow the seeds of hatred between Muslim brothers and sisters, resulting in bloodshed and destruction.

Quite who these enemies are is not made clear, although I’m sure some of the IHRC’s advisors might know.Hijaz College, where Siddiqui is based, is also a big fan of the the Ummah:

Hijaz is independent from any government organisation and relies upon the quality of its graduates for its success and reputation; they are the real adverts of Hijaz. This in turn provides us with total flexibility, allowing us to control our own future and plan a better future for the Ummah.

Siddiqui also convened the Muslim Action Committee (MAC), whose blog mainly concerned itself with getting upset about Rushdie’s Knighthood and the mo-toons affair. MAC was also behind the Global Civility website and its ridiculous demands. They were also clear about who is and who isn’t a Muslim:

The MAC is clear, there will be no Muslims supporting the March for Free Expression next week, because to support and stand with people and a movement who are insulting the beloved of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) takes you out of the fold of Islam.

Siddiqui attempts to paint his long-term aim of pushing Sharia law on the Muslim Community as a progressive move. Forced marriage? Sharia is the answer. Extremism? Sharia is the answer. I must have missed the martyrdom videos concerned about forced marriage. In another news report Siddiqui is reported to say that he is hearing encouraging noises from government:

Shaykh Faiz Siddiqi, chairman of the MAT’s governing council, said it was crucial that the Muslim community worked alongside the Government. He said: “We will work closely with the Government. It has to be joined forces but up to now the leadership of the Muslim community have not been forthcoming.[…]”Everyone is making the right noises. The Government seems to be welcoming it and I think the community is welcoming it as well,” he said.

Yep. it’s the old self-elected spokesman, it’s always a man isn’t it, setting himself up as the voice of reason and hope against extremism. Having already gone down this false road before, one hopes that the government have developed some resilience to reactionary zealots packaged up as progressives. There are better voices to listen to. They are not men with beards.