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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Sharia move in Canada draws anger
Muslim woman (generic)
Canada has a thriving Muslim population centred in Ontario
Women's rights activists are to march in 11 cities in Canada and Europe against plans to allow Sharia law tribunals in the province of Ontario.

Islamic law could be used to settle civil and marital disputes under a proposal made by former Ontario Attorney General Marion Boyd.

Roman Catholic and Jewish arbitration tribunals already operate Ontario.

Opponents of Sharia law say allowing Islamic tribunals could lead to discrimination against women.

A protest march is scheduled for Thursday in Toronto, which is the capital of Canada's most populous and multi-cultural province.

Other Canadian marches are due in Ottawa, Waterloo, Montreal and Victoria, while in Europe there will be rallies in Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Stockholm, Goteborg, London and Paris.


Michele Vianes, president of the Paris-based group Regards de Femmes, says political Islam does not recognise secular law.

"For all Europeans, women particularly, we think Canada is a country where women's rights are very strong," she said.

"For us, it is unbelievable that Sharia institutes are possible in Canada."

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has been examining the Sharia recommendation since December and has only promised that the government will take a decision "in keeping with the values of Ontarians and Canadians".

Ms Boyd argues that if Sharia is not allowed, all religious arbitration bodies could be abolished.

Country profile: Canada
20 May 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Canada
20 May 05 |  Country profiles

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