While her cabinet colleague ponders how to avoid the clash of two disparate cultures, Nicola Roxon is to be commended for ensuring the legal separation of the same. The attempt to introduce aspects of sharia law into Australia through such means as the compiling of wills must be resisted, and the new Attorney-General has proved herself more than equipped for the challenges ahead with her straight-forward, no-nonsense approach to what is a subversive effort to enshrine inequality, sexism and racism in our legal system.
"There is no place for sharia law in Australian society and the government strongly rejects any proposal for its introduction, including in relation to wills and succession," Ms Roxon said.
Her counterparts in Europe must look on with envy. No hysterical reaction from the press, no demonstrations, no threats of violence.
We can only hope the government maintains its stance. Late last year, Somali Community of Victoria president Abdurahman Osman called for Koranic courts along the lines of Aboriginal courts. And according to research by legal academics Ann Black and Kerrie Sadiq, sharia is already operating within Australia, endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed under the Marriage Act. In Britain, over 85 Islamic sharia courts now function, passing judgments on family, financial and commercial problems in accordance with sharia.
Concerns about their behind-closed-doors deliberations led to the introduction of a bill before the House of Lords, aimed at regulating such bodies.
Muslims and all religious fraternities have every right to seek to influence the political process to their advantage. But the last two decades has seen creeping European and western acquiescence to un-democratic demands from Islamic fundamentalists. As the Muslim population of Australia increases, it is to everyone’s benefit that the Attorney-General continues to draw a clear boundary between Australian law and cultural traditions.