Competing Courts


Muslims in Ontario can now voluntarily settle disputes in private sharia courts. There is local precedent for such faith-based arbitration: Rabbi Reuven Tradburks tells UPI that the Jewish equivalent—the Beis Din—has existed in Ontario "for as long as Jews have been here, hundreds of years."

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  1. Peer pressure is a perfectly valid exercise of our freedom to associate. If we limit ourselves to banning physical force, we would prevent total chaos, but life would be less civil than today. No one, private or governmental, should use force to maintain civility or the moral standards of a society, but peer pressure is fair game.

    Take free speech. Every has the right to be a complete jerk with with words and no one can harm him for it. Instead, we respond by critizing and ostricizing the jerks. This keeps places like this blog civil without any monitoring from an authority. Religious communities use the same methods we do, they just have a different definition of bad behavior. Anyone who doesn’t like that definition is free to find a new community.

    So as long as it’s just peer pressure, it’s OK. But as soon as there is violence, or pressure towards minors who can’t conscent. I object.

  2. Many of the ways in which Sharia has been put into practice seems quite barbarous to me, but, with what little I know of Sharia, as it applies to divorce and questions of child custody, Sharia seems like something we should emulate here in America.

    I know that sounds shocking, but in comparison to our own system, Muslim practices regarding divorce cases, especially those regarding the treatment of children, make our practices look barbarous by comparison.

    Regarding this court, I think it highly unlikely that divorce or custody cases will ever be heard by such a court. I noticed the following statement:

    “…the arbitration act has a number of safeguards, including the requirement that parties enter into arbitration only on a voluntary basis, and any decisions by arbitrators are subject to court ratification.”

    The word “arbitration” has, at least, two meanings. One is the every day use of someone settling a dispitue, and the other is the legal definition. One of the aspects of the legal definition is that it’s binding. So while the every day word “arbitration” was used in the quote above, if it isn’t binding, legally, it isn’t arbitration. (Anyting that’s subject to court ratification isn’t binding.)

    What I suspect this court is actually set up for is Mediation. Mediation rocks! You bring someone in, for instance, to settle a dispute between two partners in a business, and it doesn’t bankrupt the business. Although you have legal representation, there’s no discovery phase. And if someone can only engage in Sharia on a voluntary basis, and if the outcome must be in accordance with Canadian law by way judicial review anyway, then this Sharia court is a good thing.

    P.S. I’ve heard that the success rate of mediators here in the US is around 95%.

  3. We already have something similar. And here we all thought France would be the first country to recognize Sharia. I guess Canada is close enough.

  4. Funny, I don’t hear people worryign about adultresses being stoned when being tried by Talmudic law. Let’s keep in mind most of the Muslims in the US and Canada left their countries to get away from this sort of shit. Ken is correct regarding Islamic divorce. In fact, women are given permission to initiate the divorce and it takes nothing more than saying “I divorce you” 3 times in a row, in front of 2 or 3 witnesses to get it done.

    Besides, there’s already a Kosher Kourt, why not a Halal one. 🙂

  5. The spelling is usually Beit Din.

  6. The pronunciation is usualy Beis. Which is how it sounds when spoken.

    It all has to do with the Hebrew alphabet. Somewhat similar to why in English we don’t write alfabet. Surprisingly enough alpha bet comes from the first two letters of Hebrew. Aleph and bet. Bet of course is prounced base or beis if you like.

  7. I’ve seen it spelled both ways (and also “Beth Din”).

  8. Where’s Shecky Greene when you need him.

  9. Don’t forget America’s own voluntary alternative courts. The People’s Court, Judge Judy, Judge Mathis.

  10. The courts should be alright as long as they don’t violate Canadian law or public policy (as in call for the mutilation of female sexual organs, etc.).

  11. Problems will arise when the “voluntary” aspect is lost due to peer/community pressure.

    If a muslim woman wants to go to the regular civil court, but is pressured by family/friends to go to Sharia court, what would she do?

  12. The courts would only apply to civil disputes, any criminal cases would be handled in the regular courts.

  13. I don’t see how this could be any worse than Judge Judy or The People’s Court.

  14. Really? You can’t imagine a woman being intimidated by thuggy male relatives into settling a dispute in a Sharia court instead of a secular court, in, say, a divorce or custody dispute?

    I’ll assume for now you’re being ironic and I’m too sleepy to get the joke.

  15. “If a muslim woman wants to go to the regular civil court, but is pressured by family/friends to go to Sharia court, what would she do?”

    If she has half a brain she’ll run for the US border and start a new life!

  16. It’s a victory for free minds and free markets!

    In Canada?

    Involving Islam?

    Wowza. I think the mixed reactions are simply caused by the shock.

    Next think you know Saudi women will be allowed to drive — in Canada. 😉

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