The absurdity of debating Sharia law

I find it absurd that tonight – and for the umpteenth time – I must argue that Sharia law negates human rights at a ‘debate’.

It reminds me of my ‘debates’ with campaigners at a women’s rights meeting more than 20 years ago. They kept excusing FGM as a cultural matter that needed to be respected whilst I argued otherwise. Having lived in Sudan for two years with roommates who were mutilated, I can still hear their screams when they were having sex or menstruating. (I lived there from 1988 until 1990 when I was evacuated by my employer after being threatened by Sudanese security but that’s another story).

Today, those very same campaigners wouldn’t dare excuse FGM and there will come a day when proponents will not dare defend Sharia law.

Until then, debate I will…

Here’s information on tonight’s event:

Today, 8 December from 18:00-21:00 hours at UCL, 26 Bedford Way, London we will be hosting a debate on a very important topic. The proponeonts of the motion will be arguing that Sharia Law negates human rights.

Co-hosted by UCLU-ASHS and One Law for All, a campaign to protect human rights which believes that Sharia Law opposes the principles of equality enshrined in British law. Drinks will be provided.

For the motion:
1) Maryam Namazie – Human rights campaigner, spokesperson One Law for All.
2) Anne-Marie Waters – Lawyer, spokesperson One Law for All

Against the motion:
1) Ayazz Mahmood – UK Ahmadiyya Muslim University of Theology and Languages
2) Adam Walker – Lawyer and Muavin Sadr of Ahmadiyya UK


  1. Martyn Hughes says

    “Today, those very same campaigners wouldn’t dare excuse FGM and there will come a day when proponents will not dare defend Sharia law.”

    Unfortunately though Maryam, there are still people who excuse FGM. Take for example Germaine Greer who wrote in her book -The Whole Woman – about those who condemn the practce as “an attack on cultural identity”, adding: “One man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation.”

    These comments were made back in 1999, but regardless of whether Greer has changed her stance or not doesn’t matter. There are plenty of people who still defend FGM and curiously many of them label themselves as ‘feminists’!

    I’m not sure how they have managed to develop this world view of theirs – maybe you could share some thoughts about this – but if they are still defending FGM you can bet, they are still defending Sharia… as long as it doesn’t affect them of course.

    • says

      Yes you’re right. There will still be people who excuse the intolerable but in general FGM is not something that can easily be excused anymore. Hopefully there will come a time when the same can be said about Sharia.

  2. Riley says

    Either way FGM isn’t going away, there’s no solution and its delusional to think that keyboard activists can somehow end such an evil and engrained tradition; even if it was your problem (which its not) there’s nothing you can do.

    • BillyJoe says

      That sounds like an excuse to do nothing.
      When they raise a million dollars for a worthwhile charity do you think “well that five dollars I sent in made no difference at all”?
      What if everyone thought like that?

      • Riley says

        Billy – an excuse? You talk as if you and your fellow members of the 101st keyboard division are doing something raising that money won’t change such a widespread cultural practice.

        David – accurate comparisons but those practices came to an end after centuries, a further blow to the delusions of armchair activists who think a practice spanning continents will change if they whine about it online.

    • davidct says

      Slavery used to be respectable in the US. It used to be OK to burn witches. Things can be changed particularly when they are clearly wrong to any outsider.

  3. Trebuchet says

    I didn’t click on the name, but the “Carolyn Rolfson” reply with nothing related to the post is almost certainly spam.

  4. Riley says

    Billy – an excuse? You talk as if you and your fellow members of the 101st keyboard division are doing something raising that money won’t change such a widespread cultural practice.

    David – accurate comparisons but those practices came to an end after centuries, a further blow to the delusions of armchair activists who think a practice spanning continents will change if they whine about it online.

  5. Bill Taamit Smith says

    How did the debate go? I am sure the muslims would have had hard time defending killing of apostates and stoning of homosexuals.

    • Hasan says

      I am afraid these Muslims in debate were Ahmadiyya. They have never killed anyone, for apostasy and for anything else.

      • Rafiq Mahmood says

        That is true. The Ahmadiyya position is that since the Quran says there is no compulsion in religion the door is as open to leave as to enter. Their motto is “Love for All Hatred for None” and they actually try to put it into practice. They are condemned as being non-Muslim or deviant or heretical to the extent that in Pakistan it is actually illegal for an Ahmadi to “pose” as a Muslim (whatever that might mean. The response to the awful persecution that Ahmadis suffer is to weep and pray.

        The problem is that, with everyone saying they are non-Muslim, they go overboard to prove their Islamic credentials and, of course, would never deny the basis or legitimacy of sharia.

      • Rafiq Mahmood says

        If you ever needed an excellent example of Muslims being the main victims of Islam, the Ahmadis would be it. The reason they are so detested by the Islamists is because they refuse to hate anyone and are such willing and easy victims rather than their interpretation of khatamun nabiyyat which appears to the rest of us to be as foolish as debating the number of jinns you could get in a coke tin. If you can’t rouse a rabble with hatred how are you going to keep your power base? That is why the Ahmadis are regarded as being so ‘deviant’ from every other stripe of Muslim. They just don’t play the game.

        The Ahmadis are the under-dogs now, but I do wonder what would happen if they were to ever come into the ascendancy. Although the Ahmadis are the most welcoming of open discussion of any Muslim group and know all the nice bits of the Quran to show that what the rest are doing is not “true” Islam, there is a very effective method of internal thought control and limitation of areas which may be discussed or decided based on the system of khilafat – amounting almost to a cult of personality. There is a system of “missionaries” who “devote their lives” to the cause. If you are a girl and marry outside the community you automatically become excommunicated.

        For a community which prides itself on its intellectualism, there is a strange obsession with homoeopathy. It is impressed on every Ahmadi that he or she has a religious obligation to achieve the maximum number of converts possible.

        Ahmadiyya is a highly conservative organisation but presents itself as liberal and open. The dreadful persecution it suffers, especially in Pakistan, is, perversely, one of its main recruiting attractions: the lure of being a martyr.

  6. Jockaira says

    Re:The Islamic Inquisition
    Keynote address at the World Atheist Conference
    June 4-6 2011

    I just finished reading the text of your address and could not find a way to comment on it at that website, so I’ll do it here. Excuse me for interrupting anything else underway.

    “It is the human being who is meant to be equal, not his or her beliefs. It is the human being who is worthy of the highest respect and rights, not his or her beliefs, or those imputed on them.

    I (an individual) agree completely. This is so important to all humanity that it cannot be said too often. And WHY?

    If the rights of the individual are made supreme then that elevates all persons to the same level. If the rights of the group are made supreme, then disagreeing individuals will be despised and trod upon by the herd of group supremacists and lower the quality of life for everyone.

    This can be characterised as a truism because it has been shown by history to have happened where ever the rights of the group have been made supreme to those of the individual. Unfortunately, there are no historical examples of individual rights having been made supreme, only imperfect approximations that are still better than nothing.

    Thank you, Maryam Namazie, for being in this world.

  7. Jet says

    As someone mostly ignorant of Islam, I was just wondering, is Sharia law the same for all Islam, all sects, or does it differ among say Wahhabi and Ahmadiyya? Or is it a matter of ‘pick and choose’ interpretation as so much of Christianity seems? How closely is FGM linked to Sharia (I am not even sure if it is?)

  8. kennypo65 says

    I don’t understand the “reasoning” behind FGM. If a man loves his wife, why would he not want to give her pleasure? Nothing makes me happier than making my woman’s toes curl. Get with it people.

  9. Riley says

    The fact that its practiced on multiple continents shows the futility of whining about it, since no on here Maryam included has something resembling a solution.

    • Martyn Hughes says

      We’re not ‘whining’ about it as you state. We are discussing it and with discussion comes education.

      You’ll find open discussion and education to be one of the best forms of ending things like FGM, Sharia law, intolerence and bigotry.

      It’s only when we don’t discuss issues that problems don’t go away.

      • Riley says

        I don’t think anyone here needs educations about the fact that FGM is indeed bad, but there is no solution to it and chatting online has never solved any major problem like FGM which is a practice on multiple continents, you are Maryam are at best delusional.`

        • Rafiq Mahmood says

          If we don’t talk we don’t learn. Riley, you seem to be inclining towards the cult of the middle ages when we were all taught that this vale of tears is so terrible we shouldn’t worry about it but make provision for the life hereafter.

          If talking about something is being delusional then you too are being delusional in posting your “It’s all hopeless, let’s give up” message on this site.

          It is clear from the comments on this site that many people thought, wrongly, that FGM was confined to Africa. Hopefully the information that it is not has helped to increase awareness and a sense of urgency.

          “I don’t think anyone here needs educations…” Well, Riley, it is clear that we do, if only that education is an uncountable noun. The more we talk, the more we learn, the more we can help to persuade others and fight against this evil.

        • Rafiq Mahmood says

          Oh, and were people delusional when they were whining about foot binding in China in the early part of the last century? Were all the meetings and discussions about it a waste of time because they “couldn’t come up with a solution”?

          Damnit! What is it about women that men have to deform them, imprison them, humiliate them and hide them away? And now men and women can’t discuss this cruelty and injustice together because we are delusional and cannot come up with a solution? You want to shut us up when we should be shouting from the rooftops AND educating ourselves too. Ostriches don’t do it, but you want us humans to bury their heads in the sand.

          • Riley says

            First off the middle ages were not hell; Byzantine empire (which had no serfdom) Russian republics and the Swiss confederation. I didn’t say talking about it is delusional, I said that its delusional to think that rants on blogs mean something. I didn’t say its “hope lets give up” just pointing out the obvious that no one here has any solutions, instead they pretend that their rants mean something as we can see from your claim to “fight against this evil.” The foot binding comparison doesn’t work, that problem did not span multiple continents and people at those meetings actually lived in China and participated in Chinese politics, all this talk about rooftops and other keyboard warrior stuff is cute but you still haven’t presented any solutions but merely demonstrated the sort of nonsesnse I was referring to. I didn’t say that people have to ignore it obviously we should sympathize with victims of FGM but you seem to mistake compassion for a superpower that automatically solves problems.

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