Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where is the outrage over Sharia Law?

Where is the outrage against this blood payment?

The United States is part of a Sharia law blood money payment to win the freedom of a CIA contractor and American citizen in Pakistan. Yet, there is no strong reaction in this country about using a Sharia law to win the release of the contractor.

Raymond Davis, a contractor working for the CIA, was released from Pakistani prison in Lahore a few weeks ago. He spent two months in detention awaiting trial on a charge of murder. On January 27, 2011, he killed two Pakistani men that he says were trying to rob him and were brandishing a weapon.

The two families of the men that were killed agreed to forgive Davis for the murders in open court. It was confirmed by an official of the United States that “blood money” had been paid to the families of about $2 million. Under Sharia law, a bribe by any other name, can be paid to the grieving families in return for their forgiveness of the crime. Since Pakistan operates its courts in conformity to Sharia Law, the judge released Davis. He was flown out of the country by the United States ambassador to Pakistan.

So where is the outrage?

Sharia law is a system of laws based on the religious beliefs of Muslims. It is doesn’t recognize the natural rights of humans. For this reason, many in this country, including the Responsible Community, don’t believe our courts should consider it in decisions. In Oklahoma, a citizen’s initiative to prevent it was passed overwhelmingly in the last national election. In many states around the country, most recently in Tennessee, legislation has been introduced that would ban the use of Sharia Law in decisions. (As a nation, we should ban the code of law of all religions from being considered in any decisions. We should only use Constitutional law.) Yet, when the United States wins the freedom of one of our own citizens by using Sharia law, there is no outrage.

The government in Pakistan is in some ways similar to our own system, with one exception. There is an executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. All legitimately elected to office directly or indirectly by a vote of the people. The exception is the Federal Shariat Court. In Pakistan’s constitution, this court decides if any law or ruling conforms with Sharia law. This court makes Pakistan’s government a theocracy, a form of government that doesn’t respect the rights of those that live outside of the religion of the land.

It is doubtful that Davis would have received a fair trial. The evidence presented would be questionable at best and any ruling would need to receive a confirmation from the Federal Shariat Court. Additionally, a long drawn out trial would have done serious damage to United States’ image in Pakistan and possibly to its foreign relations throughout the region. But, when we entered the country in this world wide war on terror, we knew that those risks existed.

Everyone involved in this case from the United States government is denying that the payment was “blood money” or that the United States government authorized it. It was used, it is suspected, as a simple, practical way to get Davis released and bring him home. It is fortunate that he is on his way home because of the doubts with Pakistani’s legal system, but our diplomats should have found another way to get him released. But, the truth is, we used a legal code that we condemn in this country yet use it to subvert the justice system in another country.

Right and wrong doesn’t end at our border. The calls for blocking Sharia law from being used in this country must be consistently applied throughout the world. The payment of “Blood Money” as it is understood in Sharia Law should not have been used to gain Davis’ release. How is it that we will be able to ever again condemn Sharia Law when we used it to our benefit in this case?


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