Latest News

The problem with condemning Sharia Law

A heated television debate has ignited a discussion that's drawn columnists, authors and world-famous celebrities

 Australians are hypocrites when they call for Muslims to be deported for supporting Sharia Law, while at the same time excusing Catholic support for Canon Law.



Both “laws” or “guidelines” or “faiths” or whatever members of each religion insists they are — and you’ll get a different definition from anyone you ask – puts itself above the law of the land. Both are shadowy and secretive and open to the wildest – or the mildest – interpretation. And yet it’s Islam that gets the bulk of our wrath.


The words “Sharia Law” seem to provoke particular venom from certain sections of society – such as independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie on last week’s QandA when she attacked Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied over the definition and ‘solution’ to Sharia.


Sen. Lambie said that she thought anyone supporting Sharia – which has many definitions from outlining simple marriage contracts to more extreme diktats such as stoning – should be “deported”, leading to a furious exchange where both women attacked the other for misrepresenting Islam.


The fight even attracted the attention of Beyonce’s sister Solange Knowles, who tweeted her admiration for Abdel-Magied’s position.

Solange Knowles’ tweet to Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Where, I wondered, was the Senator’s voice when we the  Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed this month that 7 per cent of Catholic priests practising in Australia between 1950 and 2010 abused children? In some dioceses as many as 22 per cent of priests were raping and molesting kids, the Commission found.


Where are the calls for members of the Catholic clergy to be shipped back to where they came from (Ireland? Italy?) because they still support Canon Law, which insists that the sanctity of confession is a higher law than the law of the land? Meaning, if we take it literally, that a priest who abuses a seven-year-old boy can confess – and be forgiven – by God and his fellow priests without a police officer or judge hearing a word about it.


On February 2, Catholic commentator Monica Doumit wrote an op ed in The Catholic Weekly lamenting the scale of Catholic sex abuse being uncovered by the Royal Commission but insisting that the sanctity of confession must be retained.


“There may be times when we will need respectfully but firmly to declare that there are some aspects of the Church over which the Royal Commission and indeed, any state authority, has no jurisdiction (like the Sacrament of Confession.)” she wrote.


If a Muslim Imam or Mufti said something similar it would be mere moments before Jacqui Lambie belted out a press release insisting he be put on the first plane back to Saudi Arabia or Iran.


I’m not defending Sharia Law. I don’t entirely agree with Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s insistence that it’s merely “praying five times a day”. Nor do I subscribe to  hysterical definitions of it being all about female genital mutilation, child marriages or force veiling.


Like everything religious, it’s all open to interpretation – and practised differently everywhere.


But if you’re going to apply rigid generalisations to one faith, you’d better be willing to apply it to all of them.  

Otherwise the hypocrisy is astonishing.

Related stories