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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Sharia law move quashed in Canada
Women protesting against Sharia law in Toronto
The prospect of Sharia law in Ontario sparked protests in Canada
The head of Canada's Ontario province has rejected attempts to allow Muslims to use Sharia law in family disputes.

A report by Ontario's former attorney general Marion Boyd had recommended the use of Islamic law to settle issues such as divorce and child custody.

But Premier Dalton McGuinty ruled against the move, saying there should be "one law for all Ontarians".

Protests were held against the Sharia law proposal in major Canadian cities, as well as in Paris, London and Vienna.

Critics said allowing Islamic tribunals could lead to discrimination against women.

'Common ground'

If the recommendation had been accepted, Ontario would have become the first Western jurisdiction to allow the use of Sharia.

I think our voice got heard loud and clear, and I thank the government for coming out with no faith-based arbitrations
Homa Ar-Jomand
Women's rights activist
Mr McGuinty said he would introduce "as soon as possible" a law banning all religious arbitration in the province.

Ontario has allowed Catholic and Jewish faith-based tribunals to resolve family disputes on a voluntary basis since 1991.

Mr McGuinty, who had been studying Ms Boyd's report since last December, said he was concerned religious family courts could "threaten our common ground".

He told the Canadian Press news agency: "There will be no Sharia law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians."

'Loud and clear'

Women's rights activist Homa Ar-Jomand, who helped organise the rallies last Thursday, said she was delighted by the decision.

"I think our voice got heard loud and clear, and I thank the government for coming out with no faith-based arbitrations.

"That was the best news I've heard for the past five years," she said.

According to the latest census in 2001, about 600,000 Muslims live in Canada.

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