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Rights groups protest Sharia courts proposal in Ontario

[JURIST] Hundreds of human rights supporters protested Thursday in European and North American cities over a proposal in the Canadian province of Ontario to set up special courts applying Islamic law on family issues. An Ontario government report [PDF text] discussed the possibility of creating voluntary courts applying Sharia [Wikipedia backgrounder; CBC FAQ], a strict Islamic personal law, for the Muslim community in the province. Rights protesters, including the International Campaign against Shari'a Court in Canada [advocacy website], have expressed concern that the tribunals would not be truly voluntary and could result in violations of rights of Canadian women. Groups have also voiced concern that a decision by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty [official profile] to allow such courts would set a precedent for other countries. The Canadian Council of Muslim Women [advocacy website] and other supporters of the proposal maintain that it is voluntary and offers a choice for an increasing Muslim population in Canada. In June Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi [Wikipedia profile] has spoken out against [JURIST report] the prospect of establishing the tribunals in Canada. From the UK, the Independent has more. CBC News has local coverage.

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