Radical Islam, Sharia, and Human Rights
The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House has published a study of the spread of radical Islam; Radical Islam's Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Shari'a Law. The book describes the impact on human rights and democracy when states adopt a starkly repressive version of Islamic law or extreme Shari'a. Propagated largely by the regimes of Saudi Arabia and Iran, extreme Shari'a rule has spread over the last quarter century to a number of regionally influential countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Radical Islam's Rules documents effects of extreme Shari'a on human rights that are far more serious than the punishments of amputation and stoning that receive most international critical analysis. In practice, the status of women, the criminal code, religious freedom, the judicial system, educational systems, and the economy are all expected to conform to a purported seventh century model. However, the greatest danger of these laws is to democratic principles and systems themselves. Since their advocates assert they are divine, the laws cannot be debated or subordinated by man-made constitutions, legislative limits, or popular referenda.
In the countries surveyed, state imposition of extreme Shari'a is characterized by a lack of due process, stemming from vague and haphazard laws, untrained judges, and extrajudicial enforcement; cruel and unusual punishments, such as amputation, the removal of eyes, stoning, and crucifixion; the denial of equal rights under law to women, who are reduced to second-class status in marriage, divorce, and inheritance, and are denied full civil and political rights, equal education and employment opportunities, and equal treatment under the law. Rape and other forms of sexual exploitation often go unpunished due to rules of evidence that give women's legal testimony less weight than men's; the denial of equal rights under law to non-Muslims, making them second class citizens and worse, nonpersons without legal protection, sometimes even from extra judicial killing. Non-Muslims are denied full civil and political rights, particularly regarding religious freedom, and are discriminated against in state education and employment and under rules of evidence; the state enforcement of blasphemy or apostasy laws that can carry the death penalty against Muslims who are not part of the dominant group, who dissent from the state-imposed version of Islam, or who criticize the government's policies; weak or non-existent democratically elected legislatures, whose power is negated by un-elected religious authorities officially responsible for voiding laws that they deem to be inconsistent with Shari'a; and denial of religious freedom to individuals, particularly those who are Muslim, through blasphemy and apostasy laws that punish dissent and debate.