Muslims adopt Shariah legal code in Canada

Toronto, ON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Debate has arisen in Canada over the issue of Muslim courts practicing the Shariah legal code outside Canadian law, the New York Times reported.

The Canadian Society of Muslims is establishing the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice to apply the Koran-based legal code to settle disputes over property, inheritance, marriage and divorce.

The group is acting under an Ontario provincial law passed in 1991 that gave religious authorities the power to arbitrate civil matters as long as the people seeking arbitration do so voluntarily and are free to appeal those decisions in Canadian courts.

Muslim arbitrators have not made a single public decision yet, but Canada would presumably never allow the stoning of adulterous women or cutting off the hand of a thief, both allowable forms of punishment in some Muslim societies under an extreme variation of Shariah.

In 1990, a group of Canadian Jewish women pressed the federal government to enact a law to help Jewish women seeking a religious divorce against husbands who under Orthodox rules have the upper hand in such cases.