Protesters condemn Canada's sharia court plan

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The Independent US

Hundreds of human rights campaigners staged protests yesterday in 11 cities in Europe and North America against Canadian proposals to set up the first court in the Western world to use Islamic law to settle family disputes.

The demonstrations registered outrage over the recommendations of a government report which advocates the introduction of voluntary tribunals based on sharia - the strict Islamic code - into the legal system of Canada's most populous province.

Rights activists, convinced that sharia courts would violate the rights of Ontario's Muslim women and children, fear that the province's premier, Dalton McGuinty, will soon announce his decision to implement the proposals and set an ominous precedent for the rest of the Western world.

"If this happens in Canada it is very likely that we in Europe will see the same sort of thing. This is a global issue- it is the movement of political Islam we're dealing with, which, if successful there stands every chance of succeeding here too," said Sohaila Sharasi of the International Campaign Against Sharia in Canada organisation, an Iranian activist who fled her country fearing for her life. Ms Sharasi was one of the dozens of demonstrators protesting outside the Canadian high commission in London.

Advocates of the controversial proposal claim that sharia-based tribunals would be a strictly voluntary part of Canada's flourishing multicultural society.