‘Its interpretations stipulate the execution of Muslims who commit adultery, renounce their faith (apostates) or have same-sex relationships. Sharia methods of execution, such as stoning, are particularly brutal and cruel – witness the stoning to death this week in Somalia of a 20-year-old woman divorcee who was accused of adultery. This is the fourth stoning of an adulterer in Somalia in the last year.
Somalia is an extreme example of the Sharia oppression that exists in large parts of the Muslim world. As ever, Muslim women are often the main victims. Our rally is in support of Muslim women who are campaigning for equality.’
There are moral absolutes. Ivan the Terrible would have considered Sharia’s corporal and capital retributions a little too right-on for his savage brand of tyranny. And Sharia’s prescription on marriage and some of its grounds for divorce, specifically denunciation, entrench misogyny. These fundamental injustices must be opposed wherever they are found.
Liberal voices on the left and right, regardless of nationality and faith, must not excuse inhumanity through silence and half-heartedness: Sharia is an attack on Islam, Muslims and enlightened society. Though I applaud his efforts, Tatchell and his campaign No to Sharia do give in. Halfway through his article, Tatchell argues that the Church of England should be disestablished:
‘Britain cannot claim the moral high ground: it is not a secular democracy. The Church of England is the established church, the official state religion. Some of its bishops are granted automatic places in the House of Lords, by virtue of their religious office, and they are able to speak and vote on legislation. No other faith in Britain has such privileged law-making status and power.
No faith should dominate any government and seek to impose its creed on the rest of society. When this happens, freedom of expression is diminished and minority faiths are victimised.’
There may be cause for disestablishment, but this is not it. For nearly 200 years, the Church of England has made up for its legislative and judicial irrelevance with narcoleptic discussions about its internal workings; the only it’s diminished is itself. Tatchell conflates the Church’s frankly quite tolerant past (by the standards of the time) with the barbaric elements of Sharia in the present – an apology engendered by political correctness and, more importantly, fear. This battle has nothing to do with apology and artificial concessions; the forces of moderate, compassionate civilisation across the world must be courageous and oppose what is inherently wrong.