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By Tia Maryanne Kim

Despite Ryerson’s large Muslim population, there appeared to be no students in attendance at a Friday night film screening and discussion of Sharia In Canada, a new movie by Montreal’s Dominic Cardona.

The screening – sponsored by Jean Hodgkinson, host of CKLN’s “Rude Awakening,” the Freethinkers Association of Ryerson, and Justin Trottier, director for the Centre for Inquiry Ontario – was attended mainly by members of the outside community, who oppose the idea of allowing Sharia law to be practiced in Ontario.

“I actually find it quite shocking. I absolutely deplore the whole idea of Sharia law. I find it repulsive, something that is stuck in the 14th century,” said Toronto artist Mara Herscovitch.

Sharia is a set of Islamic laws that dictate nearly all aspects of a Muslim’s life, including politics, economics, business, law, sexuality, and social issues. Failure to abide by these laws can result in severe punishment.

Homosexuals and adulterers have been stoned to death under the law.

In 2005, Premier Dalton McGuinty banned all religious arbitrations, declaring “one law for all Ontarians.” Since then, Sharia has not been a major news topic, nor has it been widely discussed, but as more Muslims immigrate to Western countries, it is a controversy that Trottier believes will continue to ignite much anger and argument.

“Sharia is becoming a more influential right for minorities to practise what they want,” Trottier said. “Unfortunately, the issue will be around for awhile because the community who is pushing for Sharia is not just going to accept the government’s ruling.

The Sharia law movement is being pushed for internationally.” Imam Dr. Zijad Delic of the Canadian Islamic Congress feels the media, including films like Sharia in Canada, have blown the matter out of proportion and have intentionally sparked controversy.

“The Muslim community never wanted to impose Sharia into Canadian law. We were requesting for the same rights in family arbitration that have been granted to other religious communities.”

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