ACL welcomes the Federal Government’s resolve not to allow aspects of sharia law to be introduced in Australia. Attorney-General Robert McClelland has reaffirmed the Government’s position on the matter, saying:

“People who migrate to Australia do so because of the fact we have a free, open and tolerant society where men and women are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background.

“Indeed, all applicants for citizenship swear collective allegiance to the people of Australia, and undertake to respect our customs and abide by our laws. The values underpinning those principles will not be changing.”

The Attorney’s comments follow a report in The Australian newspaper, which highlighted that the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the multiculturalism, had argued for aspects of sharia to be incorporated into Australian law.

AFIC’s president Ikebal Adam Patel, who wrote the submission, “nominated family law and specifically divorce as an area where moderate interpretations of sharia could co-exist within the Australian legal system”, according to The Australian.

The Attorney-General’s statement in response to this suggestion is consistent with the Government’s pre-election commitment to ACL that “The Gillard Labor Government does not support the introduction of Sharia law in Australia”.

In answering ACL’s pre-election questionnaire to the political parties, the Coalition made it clear to ACL that it too was opposed to the introduction of sharia law in Australia.

The Australian is also strongly opposed to the introduction of sharia law, today editorialising that “The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils’ push for Muslims to enjoy “legal pluralism” through sharia, the religious law of Islam, is a bad idea that Attorney-General Robert McClelland was right to stop dead in its tracks”.

The paper features an extended examination of sharia and why it is even being considered in today’s multicultural Australia. The comments of legal academic David Flint are especially illustrative in this regard, with the debate said to be “symptomatic of a crippling lack of self-confidence among the Australian governing class about the benefits of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law”.

He argues that “Our single law is based, essentially, on Judaeo-Christian values. It was founded on these values”; values he believes are under increasing attack.

Anglican Minister and Islam expert Mark Durie has also written on the sharia law debate that has occurred this week. His blog article is available by clicking here.