As the controversy continues to rage around the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments about Islamic law (Michelle Malkin predictably calls him the Archbishop of Dhimmitude), it’s worthwhile checking out the reaction of Australia’s own Bill Muelenberg former vice-president of the Australian Family Association. Muelenberg is also concerned by the Archbishop’s comments, accusing him of promoting Dhimmitude and effectively calling for an Islamic theocracy to be established in Britain. He concludes:
In sum, the calls by the Archbishop to at least consider having some aspects of sharia law implemented in the UK are appallingly foolish. They are both undemocratic and unchristian. The Archbishop is effectively renouncing the Christian heritage of the UK, and calling for its replacement by Islam. Interfaith dialogue is one thing, but putting up the white flag of surrender is quite another. Dr Williams really needs to determine if he is representing the Christian faith, or the faith of Islam. And he needs to decide whether he thinks a democracy is preferable to an Islamic theocracy
However, if recognising elements of shariah law is waving the white flag of surrender, we are sorry to advise Malkin and Muehlenberg that the United States waved it a long time ago.
We refer, of course, to the fact that the US courts have recognised Islamic law as a legitimate and appropriate mechanism for resolving contractual disputes. In this case, for example, the court recognised the validity of shariah-based arbitration in a dispute over a business partnership. The contract between the two parties had an arbitration clause which read:
Any dispute, controversy or claim arising out of or in connection with or relating to this Agreement or any breach or alleged breach hereof shall, upon the request of any party involved, be submitted to and settled by arbitration before the Arbitration Court of an Islamic Mosque located in the State of Minnesota pursuant to the laws of Islam (or at any other place or under any other form of arbitration mutually acceptable to the parties so involved). Any award rendered shall be final and conclusive upon the parties and a judgment thereon may be entered in the highest court of the forum, state or Federal, having jurisdiction. The expenses of the arbitration shall be borne equally by the parties to the arbitration, provided that each party shall pay for and bear the costs of its own experts, evidence, and counsel.
The parties fell into dispute and sought arbitration by the Islamic Arbitration Court. The Court made a ruling and one of the parties then went to the secular court to contest that judgement. The court subsequently ruled:
The district court properly confirmed the arbitration award under Minn. Stat., ch. 572.
Et tu, State of Minnesota?
Likewise, US courts have also recognised shariah-based arbitration in family disputes. For example, this case heard by the Texan Court of Appeals.
Despite this, neither Minnesota or Texas are, as far as we can tell, Islamic theocracies.