Sharia discriminates against women (and Muslim women specifically): compared to feminist victories elsewhere, women are still not considered equal in most Islamic settings. A woman’s testimony is worthy half a man’s in Islam. She gets half the inheritance of her male siblings; a woman’s marriage contract is between her male guardian and her husband. A man can have four wives and divorce his wife by simple repudiation using the word “Talig”, whereas a woman must give specific reasons, some of which are extremely difficult to prove. Child custody reverts to the father at a pre-set age, even if the father is abusive. Women who remarry lose custody of their children.
Sharia discriminates against children. Not only does it affect children when they are young, but the implications will last their entire life. Top of the list is child marriage. Under Sharia law, a girl is eligible for marriage as soon as a girl begins her first period. This makes it difficult to maintain a minimum age for girls to be married. Considering there were at least five cases recorded in the London Borough of Islington (including girls of only 9 years old), I wouldn’t bother to count the number of child marriages in Islamic states where it is legal.
Other discrimination against children that must be considered is the lack of exposure to different ideas and thoughts. Children from an Islamic background are often taught to close their minds to new ideas and some are brought up to hate their Jewish, Christian and Hindu classmates, as well as any gay students in their class.
In addition one can grab any school curriculum from an Islamic state and see how it restricts critical thinking and any questioning of religious doctrine.
Evolutionary theory is banned from most educational systems in Islamic states, as it contradicts the creationist story in the Quran.
Sudanese professor, Faroque Ahmed Ibrahim, stated in his open letter that teaching evolution at University of Khartoum was among the main reasons he was tortured and imprisoned by the Sudanese government. Moreover, little girls are often taught from birth that they are ‘lesser’ human beings, which results in lower self-esteem and lack of confidence later in life.
Sharia discriminates against homosexuals. Homosexuality is forbidden in most Islamic states with punishments ranging from a fine or public flogging to life imprisonment. Ten Islamic states impose a death penalty for homosexuals, including Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and some states in Malaysia. In 2011, governmental driven gangs have been killing gays across Iraq.
Sharia discriminates against non-Muslims, including other sects within Islam such as Bahia’s, Ahmadia’s, and Shia if under Sunni ruling government or the reverse. Under Sharia law, no one is allowed to force someone to convert to Islam, however, someone who is born into an Islamic family will grow up with extreme social pressure from their family. If this person wishes to convert to another religion or be an atheist, they are often considered an apostate, which can be punishable by death. Non-Muslims are subjected to extra taxes (‘Jezya’) and are afforded fewer rights in civic and family matters. For example, non-Muslim men (except Jewish and Christians) cannot marry Muslim women, while children of non-Muslim women cannot adopt their religion. Serious violence has occurred targeted at non-Muslim minorities in Islamic countries, such as the bombing of Coptic in Egypt or theattack of eight churches in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2011.
Although some of these groups operate as separate fundamental extremists who don’t necessary represent mainstream Islam or the ruling Islamic governments, these same groups operate in their territory and are protected by the local governments.
Five: Non-Believers and Atheists
Sharia discriminates against non-believers, atheists and apostates. It truly disgusts me that apostasy and blasphemy laws are still in practice in some regions of the world. Did you know that free thinking and freedom of speech are a crime punishable by death, public flogging and imprisonment in the 21st century?
Brutal persecutions and executions of many atheists and scientists have occurred for the simple crime of critical thinking.
Cases such as Iranian Ali Ghorabat for apostasy, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haji Aghaee for enmity against God, Sudanese theologian Mahmoud M. Taha for his progressive Islamic views and Egyptian Nasr H. Abu Zaid for his critical views on the Qur’an show the widespread persecution of people who dare to question blind belief.
This is not a thing of the past: recently Kuwait jailed Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz for criticizing Islam, Saudi Arabia jailed Raif Badawi for his liberal views, Tunisian artist Nadia Jelassi is facing prison for her ‘un-Islamic’ artistic pieces. Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen implement the death penalty for those who renounce or criticize Islam, but they also punish anyone who is progressive, liberal or wishes to think freely and live a modern, 21st century life.