On air: Is Sharia law a price worth paying for peace?


No peace, no Sharia. For many people outside Pakistan the idea of implementing Sharia law to bring peace to a once thriving tourist region was a controversial olive branch. But to others living in the Swat region it’s a welcome relief. As I write this the Pakistani President Asif Zardari has announced he will only sign such a deal, once peace there is fully restored.

Read more here from our talking points post. We’re planning on looking at this issue on Wednesday’s programme.

Is the introduction of Sharia law the right course of action to bring peace, in Pakistan or elsewhere? While it may stick in the throat of people outside the country, won’t this improve the quality of life for people in the region? Or is this little more than giving in to extremists? Showing people that if they repress women and bring violence they can get their own way?

We’re going to be speaking to Ziaudin, who lives in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan . He welcomes the introduction of Sharia law as he thinks that it will finally bring peace and produce a more effective legal system. But we’ll also be talking to human rights organisations who are angry at the move.  And a human rights lawyer who thinks the western media don’t understand Sharia law.

What about the future of Pakistan – is this the beginning of seeing Sharia law throughout the country?

103 Responses to “On air: Is Sharia law a price worth paying for peace?”

  1. 1 VictorK
    February 17, 2009 at 20:41

    Something’s up when the Western liberal-left trot out the same justification for Sharia in this part of Pakistan as they did in Somalia (with the Islamic Courts): it will, at least, bring peace and order. I suspect an attempt to package Sharia as a solution for social problems that the left will soon be arguing ought to be applied amongst Muslim districts in Western cities, so long as the inhabitants want it (which they do).

    Lots of other things promote peace and order, but recall whether those were in themselves enough to earn them consideration, respect or support from the Sharia-sympathisers: apartheid; Savak, the Shah’s secret police; Serb militiamen; slavery; segregation in the American South; Saddam Hussein; any number of right-wing and nationlist dictators; etc. Most were actually more effective than Sharia in promoting peace and order (how did Somalia ever get into the mess it did?), but only Sharia gets the left’s vote.

    Whatever Western leftists are really up to, this is a matter for the Pakistanis. Let them have Sharia, if that’s what they want, on condition that we in the West don’t have to take in any of the refugees claiming human rights abuses as a result of a Sharia-regime.

  2. 2 Ajok
    February 17, 2009 at 20:41

    Well, if the introduction of sharia law isn’t going to compromise the rights of everyone whom sharia law is going to ‘linger’ around their lives, then I think it’s okay as a price for peace.

  3. 3 Thomas Murray
    February 17, 2009 at 21:29

    As long as Sharia Law is not imposed on non-Muslim’s, I can’t see why the will of the community should be ignored.

    On the other hand, I’m a deist who believes only in the necessity for people to fear God, not that it matters that God actually exists.

    So ask Ziaudin what would happen to me if I watched a DVD of “The Life of Brian” while drinking Kentucky bourbon in Northwest Pakistan.

    Can a conviction under Sharia Law be appealed to a higher secular court of law in Islamabad?

    Then ask him how a civilization might be expected to improve if religious authority cannot — under any circumstances whatsoever — be criticized or questioned?

    Then, can we at least ridicule it?

    (If Ziaudin’s curious, I believe in karma, and, as a physicist, in reincarnation. It seems to me that the Laws of the conservation of Mass and Energy forbids the disappearance of the soul from the physical universe.)

    –Full of Questions in Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  4. 4 h kpelly
    February 17, 2009 at 22:27

    what is sharia law? can somebody please give me a gist of it?

  5. February 17, 2009 at 23:25

    Sharia law enables and reinforces the worst of Male attitudes and actions towards Females.
    Sharia law is Medieval in tone, medieval in design and entirely unjustified in a modern, progressive state.
    From banning female car drivers, to refusal to educate females, to compulsory female circumcision, to imprisonment or stoning of sexually abused/raped females, to no rights on property, to no say in divorce… The list is just endless of the corruptions of the Qur’n that Sharia law allows Males to perpetrate against Females.
    There is nothing enlightened or positive about Sharia law. Sharia law is never acceptable in a humane, civilised society.

    If you have the courage to publish this opinion I salute your integrity and commitment to free speech: If you censor this Comment in any way or find reasons to ban it the decision will simply reinforce the negative attitudes towards Islam in general.

  6. February 17, 2009 at 23:41

    Just who exactly is saying the implementation of full Sharia law is a “..welcome relief..”?

    Let’s get this clear: Which BBC Journalist conducted un-male supervised interviews with the impoverished, over-worked, undernourished, uneducated, regularly beaten Women and Girls of SWAT about their opinions of Sharia law?

    In fact who is claiming to have knowledge of that entire region’s population?

    I was in a survey team in Swat in the early 1970s: The place is about as physically backward in terms of facilities and roads as anywhere in the world! Coupled with real extremes of climate and a very hostile natural environment I really would query just how much access any BBC Journalist could have obtained even allowing for possible improved conditions (which I understood the Taliban campaigns had all but halted)!?

  7. 7 Ramesh
    February 18, 2009 at 00:00

    Sharia law means moving away from democracy. It may achieve temporary peace now. But future generations may have to pay a hefty price.

  8. 8 Matt in Oregon
    February 18, 2009 at 01:46

    This peace will not last. This deal was only made to give the Taliban a little breathing room. They have the upper hand in the NWFP and it is only a matter of time until they are back on the offensive against the Pakistani Army.

  9. 9 frank from usa
    February 18, 2009 at 05:41

    The hsitoric lesson is the nation of Turkey, accordiong to all I have read about the Ottoman Empire. It was the fighting over the interpretation of the sharia law that tore the infrastructure of the empire down, and that is when the government forbade sharia law from interfering with the civil government. I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

  10. 10 abdulahi
    February 18, 2009 at 08:38

    please guys lets not get things wrong, who said sharia law violates one’s right or there is not equalities amog muslims? well all i can say is ya al gonna realise one day islam is the best law and this law is exchausted by GOD who knws what is best for humans before, now and the coming future. i knw ya all knw it but u ignore but the fact remains, u saw wat happen with the banks and the world economy, this is all a system which created by MEN and u all knw wat we as muslims say -infact wat is written in our holy book QURAN- INTEREST IS FORVIDEN. thats one example!

  11. February 18, 2009 at 09:37


    re “..Islam is best law.. Sharia law.. Qur’n says.. INTEREST FORBIDDEN..”

    When will the Male followers of Islam accept that Females’ monthly biological cycle does not prevent any Woman from functioning fully independently of a Man and that whether it is driving, piloting, ruling, brain surgery, sports, or just washing up anything the Muslim male can do a Muslim woman counterpart can do just as well!?
    Now that is EQUALITY, but, you will only find it in the advanced non-muslim western nations!

    When will you as a practitioner of Islam realise that a banking/economic crisis afffects everyone in the world, not least your oil-rich laden muslim nations!?

    When will you realise Islam long ago set up investment systems that allow any muslim to make a profit by usury!?

  12. February 18, 2009 at 09:42

    This is a good sujuct to discuss. In fact my point of view about sharia law is this

    practice the worst thing to do presently. Under this practice many things are in

    favor of men whereas women are allowed for many things like: to participate to

    polical activities, administrations, to drive even to enjoy themselves such as to

    go the football stadium. All these are to check the development and the

    blossoming of women. I can say there are many islamic countries and the

    question is how many countries are implementing this practice. I think there are

    very few, because they know it is not a good practice. To finish, I can say sharia

    law is an attack againts Human Rights.

    I’m from Bamako Mali.


  13. February 18, 2009 at 10:05

    Thanks to Mush@Bush.Pakistan has spiraled out of control.

    Is it a good idea to make truce with theocratic mad MEN who will cut off your head if you don’t accept their rule? Shall we make truce with the same group of MEN who throw acid on school girls, and who will riot if you make fun of their friend in the sky? These are the 911 murderers, the Madrid bombers, the Mumbai killers. Shall we respect their agreements? Trust them?

  14. February 18, 2009 at 10:35

    The issue is about governance. The Swat region is a Wild west and the earliest the Pak govt is able to take control the better. You cant let local cowboys run the region with their own set of laws, you might as well call it a separate country then.

  15. 15 VictorK
    February 18, 2009 at 10:46

    5 ray ridge February 17, 2009 at 23:25 wrote
    “Sharia law is never acceptable in a humane, civilised society.”

    True, but when the subject is Sharia we aren’t talking about humane and civilised societies. But that’s not the point. Don’t Muslims have the right, in their own lands, to order their lives according to their customs and values? That a Western liberal may find those customs and values repulsive is irrelevant.

    The consequences of Sharia are easily predicted: power concentrated in the hands of a reactionary Mullah-ocracy; what little freedom exists will be completely stamped out in the name of orthodoxy; the enslavement of women will be official and entrenched; non-Muslims will be harassed and bullied, and eventually either forced to leave or obliged to accept sharia punishments too; every move towards social improvements by ‘moderate’ (i.e. secular) Muslims will be countered and defeated in the name of Sharia and Islamic orthodoxy.

    And so what? None of this should be a concern to Westerners. Let’s hear what Muslims and Pakistanis (including Pakistani Christians) have to say about it and keep Western moral outrage within the boundaries of the West.

  16. 16 Euphorbia
    February 18, 2009 at 11:23

    Sharia Law should strike terror into the heart of every woman everywhere. One has only to see those blue clad walking creatures to remember that could be the fate of all women if Sharia Law became universal. For some unknown reason these men hate women.

    It is a great pity for women that the Russians left Afghanistan. The only other answer is to get every woman out of the region and leave the men to it! Fifty years of no women and the problem would be solved!

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

  17. 18 Mark Sandell
    February 18, 2009 at 11:45

    Oh and for those of you who “dare ” us to print stuff. We usually don’t.

  18. 19 Mark Sandell
    February 18, 2009 at 11:48

    Exiled former WHYS-er Peter Van Dyk forwarded this article to me on Afghanistan


  19. 20 Zainab from Iraq
    February 18, 2009 at 12:38

    Hello all,
    I believe if we imply the RIGHT sharia law in all our countries, we will all live in peace.The most imoprtant thing in the RIGHT sharia law is to reform the social status and welfare of human beings.
    well i’ve watched on Tv several documantaries about Pakistan, (and though i don’t believe all what I watch or hear on media) but it seems to me that in Pakistan, they have a special sharia law that is not recognized to us.. For example concerning the education and work of women and other things.. I believe that Islamic sharia law urges that everyone (man or woman) must learn and if a woman needs a job she can have, it’s her right. I don’t know why some countries ban many thing like education, work, driving cars, or entering a supermarket alone or …etc. whereas there is no chapter in the Holy Qura’an says that. Please notice carefully: if a father or a husband prevents his daughter or wife from going to school or having a job…this won’t be the sharia’s problem.

  20. 21 Ricardo
    February 18, 2009 at 13:33

    It is an outright arrogant question. A question through the lenses and prisms of the Western world. It denotes that Sharia Law is evil. How and when did Sharia Law develop? What are its roots? What does it exactly say? Even if it is different to Western law, are not society and culture too?

  21. 22 Tony from Singapura
    February 18, 2009 at 13:51

    In Nigeria there is a similar system, where the Northern states implement Sharia law. The conflict between church and state will show up in the area of punishments.

    Here is a link that touches on this issue…


    I feel that while the punishemt regime is a little hard to swallow, life is tough in those remote regions and Sharia law is probably not seen as cruel and unreasonable as it seems to us in the west.

    I only hope that this is what the locals want, if so it is probably a reasonable solution.

    It is also interesting to see to what degree Shria law will be implemented. For example Malaysia has Low Fat Sharia Law – no amputations, no stonings; while the northern states of Nigeria implement full Sharia law. I guess with Taleban involved it will be more like that later.

  22. February 18, 2009 at 14:04

    it will only embolden those who aggressively enforce sharia law to use terror in the rest of pakistan to enslave the rest of the population.

  23. 24 Dennis Junior
    February 18, 2009 at 14:14

    I think it is a somewhat high price for peace for imposing Sharia Law….But, if it brings peace, then that is the required course of action….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  24. 25 Steve in Boston
    February 18, 2009 at 14:27

    Sharia law in exchange for peace? We have a word for that here in the USA.

    It’s called “extortion.”

  25. 26 samirah from dubai
    February 18, 2009 at 14:29

    Yes to sharia, but no for a self interpreted sharia designed to benefit self domination of uneducated fanatic radicals who have give the name of “sharia” to their obsession of power and self warship.

    If a compromise is being made in the name of the actual thing call sharia then a big yes, and the actual sharia never could you assualt or forced powerz if not been attack by empy. Examples from phopher life reflect that he did retaliate even when act, but yes said a jihad ONLY when islam was being attacked which did not include children and women.

    In the name of sharia they are violating the basic principle fundamental need highlighted by the Quran and Propher Mohammed PBUH, EDUCATION. So that these fake monsters can establish their domination on uneducated innocent masses

  26. 27 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 18, 2009 at 14:40

    Pakistan: a country with 21st Century nuclear weapons. Pakistan: a country that plans to introduce 7th Century laws.

    That is very scary.

  27. 28 Manx Shearwater
    February 18, 2009 at 14:44

    Pakistan is a failed state. Its so-called intelligence organization the ISI is what created the Taliban and is effectively a terrorist organization.

  28. February 18, 2009 at 14:51

    From Kenya

    Well what works for them Pakistanis may not work for us here in Kenya. In Somalia when Sharia was introduced by Islamists peace came but at a price restriction on freedom and secularism. if you ask me I would prefer to live in a peaceful secular society where I chose to follow my religion from my heart. Now where religion interferes with my day to day existence.

  29. 30 Roy, Washington DC
    February 18, 2009 at 15:05

    It may not be considered “modern” (by Western standards) or democratic, but it’s certainly better than the near anarchy that currently exists in that area. Like all other systems of law, it has its pros and cons.

  30. February 18, 2009 at 15:11

    After reading the various comments made by all of the above folks, I am drawn to this conclusion.
    The use of Sharia allows the Islamic extremist to become legitament and the terror will contintue in a more prescribed fashion, such as the amputations, female subduction (the geological term, where one land mass forces another land mass to go beneath the other), and the general violence being practiced by the terrorist. What is the deal with the cruel use of violence? There are more civil and humanized bodies of law to run a society with. If they don’t want western law then they can use the body of laws that govern Egypt, or even Turkey.
    The Kiber Pass area is where we are talking about and as far as I have read there never has been any kind of governence in that area and it is basicaly survival of the fitest. The biggest dog runs the place. In this case the badest dogs are the drug lords and the Islamic terrorest. What a gift to mankind these men are. Fit for the gallows every one of them.

  31. 32 James Mucene
    February 18, 2009 at 15:22

    As long as its not imposed to non muslim no problem with sharia if it wanna bring peace

  32. February 18, 2009 at 15:31

    Western countries,fighting against terror has its own concerne on this agreement signed between local taban and the government who is front line ally of the united states who invested on it billions of dollars.

    Zardari government is facing number of crisis such as friction with muslim league (N) is increasing,and lawyer movement has its other side.

    No doubt, with refference peace, cicumstances in Swat were neyond the control,there were chances of further destruction.

    President of Pakistan didn’t sign the peace accord,he has his own condition, as talban laid down no arms.

    Efforts are being going on for betterment looks not successfull because think tank in the states understand that agreement with local talban would be bringabout of increasing resurgency in Afghanistan,
    that is not acceptable for world powers.

    Pressure will increase,and government in Pakistan is not in position to face the pressure,so present peace accord will be proved not stable

  33. 34 Dinka Aliap Chawul,Kampala-Uganda
    February 18, 2009 at 15:53

    I believes Sharia Laws can bring peace in an Islamic states as unjustices can also rises!!!!!,? look at women freedoms in the Islamics World especially in Pakastan,Afganistan,Iraq and Iran as one sign of this disease. So for my individual observations, major causalities for Sharia Laws are and will be criminals,poor people who have no proper care-takers hence resorts to thefts as a means of surviving and women.

  34. 35 Peter
    February 18, 2009 at 15:58

    Laws in secular states does not conflict with basic religious law where most are taken from religious law itself.Most countries have its roots from religions even atheist communist state. Sharia laws has fundamentalist’s influence. Secular law evolve or are finetune to prevent miscarriage of justice, comforming it with the natural rule of justice and allow freedom of choice.The will of God is in the hands of God and not men.
    Sharia law does not evolve.

  35. 36 gary
    February 18, 2009 at 16:07

    Yes it is; but only If one can ignore the deafening silence of injustice.

  36. 37 Steve in Boston
    February 18, 2009 at 16:11

    Today Pakistan, tomorrow France and the Netherlands. Followed by the United Kingdom.

  37. 38 VictorK
    February 18, 2009 at 16:14

    Do the anarchy and violence that Sharia is going to banish exist as a result of the supporters of Sharia instigating disorder until they get what they want? That seems to be what’s being reported. No state can survive surrender to blackmailers. What do pro-Sharia Muslim bloggers think about this?

    Is a state that allows more than one legal system to exist, and which permits non-state actors to run an alternative legal system in a part of the country, truly sovereign? Isn’t the logical next stage secession? Doesn’t Sharia have destabilising potential above and beyond its alleged value in restoring civil order?

    @Tony : Nigeria is a poor comparison. Nigeria isn’t a Muslim country; it doesn’t have a Muslim majority; it’s constitution is entirely secular; Sharia exists in its Northern states as a result of unilateral local action in defiance of the Nigerian constitution and the sovereignty of its government. An instance of Sharia is a source of political division and instability.

    I see that some Muslims voices here are already distancing themselves from the ‘wrong’ kind of Sharia.

  38. February 18, 2009 at 16:31

    IT is funny (by that i really mean scary) how people think they make the laws of the land, and not the other way around. The enviornment, strength, and character of the people make up what “morrals” are and ow they are applied. We have seen what happens when one group of people try to force their ideals of what is morral and just on a differnt group of people.

  39. 40 viola
    February 18, 2009 at 16:37

    Once more we see female sacrifice to secure a peace that will be anything but.


  40. February 18, 2009 at 16:40

    “No Peace, No Sharia.”

    It is naive of anyone to think Sharia law a will bring peace to anyone.

    Certainly not to women or kids, but to the extremist fundamentalist men I guess it’s a “price” worth paying. Let’s just hope no one disagrees with these cowards and killers, because they will once again start bombing and clopping off heads.

    @ Portlandmike,

    “Shall we respect their agreements? Trust them?”

    Sure, why not? After all girls and women are just commodities to for these murderers.

  41. 42 viola
    February 18, 2009 at 16:55

    The point is that the rolling over of the Pakistan government for the Taleban will bring the wrong kind of sharia law, assuming that there is actually a right kind. Don’t forget that it won’t be the Pakistan gov’t enforcing sharia. It will be the Taleban.

    Is this kind of thing what the Pakistani gov’t representatives meant when they went to their allies and said, “Cut us some slack. Give us some time”?

  42. February 18, 2009 at 17:33

    Donnamarie in Swittzerland said:
    “Pakistan: a country with 21st Century nuclear weapons. Pakistan: a country that plans to introduce 7th Century laws.”
    She should have added “with 7th Century educations.” She’s right; it IS scary.

  43. February 18, 2009 at 17:34

    Unfortunately there is little positive I read in the news about Sharia law so my perceptions bend towards the arc of being biased.

  44. 45 Ron S. from Ft Myers Florida
    February 18, 2009 at 17:54

    I will be the first to admit I did not know what Sharia Law was..until a little research here on my PC, reading from several resources…

    now I MAY be wrong on this but uhm…

    THIS is the price worth paying..for peace?!

    Good luck with THAT!

  45. February 18, 2009 at 17:57

    good points

    He makes the point that the sharia victory for the clerics and the short term stability it might create does two things: allow concentration of Taliban fighters on guerilla war outside the settled areas; and can create a base to challenge secular authority more broadly, including undermining both a weak President and the brave lawyers that stood up to Musharef.

    The abuses of power that the people of Pakistan have endured in the last thirty years might make sharia look good to some, because at least you know the rules. Religious rule always seems terrible to me, but if the alternative is destruction and hunger, I can see how the deal would be struck.

    What does this mean for India, Afghanistan and other neighbors? What does it mean for women? These questions touch many more and I would love to hear from more people with first hand anecdotal knowledge.

    It isn’t about being liberal or conservative but rather about getting to the important human situations and understanding what is really happening.

  46. 47 Dan
    February 18, 2009 at 18:05

    Better you should ask Germans if Nazism was worth putting the country back to work in the 1930’s.
    Is this the beginning of a new Fascism with a whole group of people are sold out as was Czechoslovakia was by Britain and France?

  47. 48 Bob in SW Florida
    February 18, 2009 at 18:05

    As near as I can tell Sharia law is primitive and barbaric. If the Muslims of Pakistan want it then they should have it but they should not come crying to the west and NGOs complaining of human rights violations and this “law” should only apply to Muslims.

    Is a complete, consistant and uniform Sharia law written down anywhere or is it applied at the whim of some uneducated cleric?

  48. 49 Dan
    February 18, 2009 at 18:20

    If the Professor is so happy about Sharia Law being imposed will she let her daughter now live under it?

  49. 50 sam
    February 18, 2009 at 18:26

    Please tell me that you are not negotiating with people (taliban) who gave a safe haven to the people who attacked my home city of New York.

  50. February 18, 2009 at 18:26

    Giving into the demands of the terrorists/millitants, implementing their choice of ‘law’ and expecting peace in return is folly.

    Its time that the world community gets united in an effort to end this madness…this is not something that affects people in NWFP only, it surely will have global consequences.

  51. 52 Rose in Florida
    February 18, 2009 at 18:27

    I worry that radicals like this will not be satisfied with simply being allowed to live by their own rules. The very fact that they disrespect lives on such an aggregious level will ultimately prove that they will only be content by converting others to believe in what they do.

  52. 53 Dan
    February 18, 2009 at 18:30

    The debate was not “hijacked” by the word Sharia…it is about the brutality of Sharia, the beheading of children, preventing women from being educated and the posting of signs in markets saying “No Women Allowed”.
    The “guest” either does not understand how the Taliban applies Sharia Law or is simply blind.

  53. 54 Alisa in Oregon
    February 18, 2009 at 18:35

    If there is a choice between instituting Sharia law and getting troops home immediately, or keeping our troops in play for 20 years resulting in a Pakistan where women are treated equally, I would choose the latter. My brother is in the military, due to be shipped overseas any day. If he plays any part in bringing equality to Pakistan, I would be very proud.

    However, I understand that it’s easy to say such things when one lives thousands of miles away from the every day terror of life in Pakistan. I want to hear from Pakistani women–do they think the sacrifice is worth it?

  54. 55 Ogola Benard
    February 18, 2009 at 18:36

    The US Secretary of Finance Timothy Gaithner, on third February spoke a bout risks, poor policies which were unmonitored and reforms to counter the previous mistakes. Why cant the the Sharia be transformed to the same development? These are ancient laws which need betterment for women, children and the man! Sometimes i question the plight of human life!

  55. 56 Jenny, USA
    February 18, 2009 at 18:37

    This discussion is ignoring the issue that since the 1990s the ISI has been a shadow government that has always been proTaliban. When Zadari first came into power he stated that he would try to reign in the ISI and within days he recanted this statement. The Pakistani government seems to have very little actual control on security matters and it is completely in the control of the ISI. This move is seemingly just the next step in the ISI’s plan to cement the power and influence of the Taliban.

  56. 57 Matthew, USA
    February 18, 2009 at 18:37

    Pakistan is playing into the hands of the Taliban. Soon the islamic sharia law will spread to the rest of Pakistan and soon Pakistan will be ruled by al-qaeda or Taliban, unless the people of Pakistan reject it outright.

  57. 58 Aart, Texas, USA
    February 18, 2009 at 18:38

    I do not believe it is worth the price. The terrorist will not honor their words. They truly want to eliminate the “evil” western influences.
    A government and a people that allow acid to be thrown in girls faces without any punishment should exsist.
    It is a sad day in the international community when we tolerate these terrrorists to have a portion of the world

  58. 59 Tom D Ford
    February 18, 2009 at 18:39

    “WHYS: Is Sharia law a price worth paying for peace?”

    No. There has never been any good done by allowing religion to infiltrate any government.

    We have a similar problem here in the US, the religionists are always trying to infiltrate our government and impose their otherworldly supernatural beliefs on our secular democratic republic form of governing.

    You need man-made laws and mostly because man-made laws can be revised and improved by men and women, something that religious laws cannot claim.

  59. 60 Sarahfina
    February 18, 2009 at 18:40

    I was just listening in my car and was saddened to hear that the representative from Sawat was a man. It looks like there was even a female response on the show in favor of Sharia law.
    What I can’t understand is how, in this day and age, we could even *consider* allowing *any* country to systematically destroy women the way Sharia law does. No education, no life outside of the home, domestic violence not only tolerated but encouraged. We boycotted the Olympics because of China’s human right’s abuses – but at least there women can learn to read.
    HOW CAN WE ACCEPT THIS LAW? To much attention is being paid to the alleged return of law and order and not enough attention is paid to the destruction of an entire generation or more of females. Sharia law *is* a human rights abuse that should not be tolerated by any government!

  60. February 18, 2009 at 18:41

    I dont understand why the west iz so petriffied of sharia law. Sharia law is for social progress. During the time of the prophet (S.A.W) women were allowed be educated, own businesses (infact the prophets first wife waz a wealthy business woman) perticipate in wars and other social activities. That is the sharia i know and fully support.so this idea that sharia is oppression to women is A TRUE MISCONCEPTION AND LIE. However this wrong interpretation of sharia in swatt will only feed to individuals warlords and gleeful western people who cant wait to demonize islam at every chance. I hope that the people of swatt understand that again their beautiful relgion is being used.

  61. 62 Dan
    February 18, 2009 at 18:44

    One merely needs to listen to how the guests parse their words to realize they are being disingenuous.
    It is the Taliban’s oppressive version of Islam and Sharia law that will be brought down upon innocents who were sold out by the Government sworn to protect them.

  62. 63 John in Scotland
    February 18, 2009 at 18:51

    In some form or another this is going to happen . But sadly this is just a reactionary turn which will do nothing to solve the real issues that befall the mass of workers and peasants .

    Its a retreat to mediaeval mysticism which were seeing everywhere . In the middle East as well .

    All it does is to line up nationalism and fundamentalism along the fault lines that are going to erupt in these countries.

    Time to get real guys .

  63. 64 Ibrahim, Baghdad
    February 18, 2009 at 18:53

    [WHYS: Please post it; I have been struggling with the poor internet connection of Baghdad to post it for 30 min now!]

    With all due respect:

    @ WHYS: Your opening post has many pre-judgment statement like “…giving in to extremists” and “Showing people that if they repress women and bring violence…”.
    As Ricardo said: “A question through the lenses and prisms of the Western world. It denotes that Sharia Law is evil”.

    @ ray ridge: The least I can say when reading your posts is “WOW!”; I would be very interested to know the sources from which your statements are coming: ” Sharia law enables and reinforces the worst of Male attitudes and actions towards Females …”, “When will you realise Islam long ago set up investment systems that allow any muslim to make a profit by usury”, ” When will the Male followers of Islam accept that Females’ …” etc.

    @ Ramesh: “Sharia law means moving away from democracy”: Or maybe it’s just another different version of the democracy you know.

    Now, what I think is: Sharia is a package. This package can not and should not be “installed” in a society unless this society has been through certain stages and development in many levels first. From my point of view, there is no such society that successfully completed this “examination” yet.

    The Profit Muhammad did not implement the whole “package” of Sharia from the first beginning; some “should not” issues were not established until there was a system that developed gradually.

    You can not download Windows Service Pack 3 if you don’t have SP2 in your system! The Sharia package would work well if to be “downloaded” into a well equipped and prepared system.

    I would suggest that we establish suffixes to such words: Sharia, Islam, Terrorist, Muslims … etc; we should say “Sharia version 2.7, Muslims v. 5, …” for instance, because if you get to know how the Sharia (Version 1) worked and was “imposed” by the most committed followers of Islam, like Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Caliph after the Profit, you may give it a second thought! Please consider reviewing The Treaty of Umar at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umar#The_Treaty_of_Umar

    Thank you.

  64. 65 A. Murray
    February 18, 2009 at 18:57

    I am horrified by the capitulation re allowing Sharia law in Pakistan.

    Already, there are public executions viewed by children, girl’s schools closed and burned…and who knows what else is happening that is well hidden.

    There is no such thing as a liberal fanatic.

    I’m amazed at the defense of Sharia Law by callers.

    Afghanistan ll, here it comes.

    The Pakistan government is a farce.

  65. 66 Nin Dheer
    February 18, 2009 at 18:57

    Sharia law is complete system of live. Anyone that doesn’t agree with people’s own choice of opting Sharia law actually wants to impose his/her own system or way of living. Let people choose what law they want to. People at west always protest if they hear about Muslims wanting to establish their own rule of law, Sharia.

    Sharia law gives enough freedom to women, more than western laws never provide to their women. Women are very much respected and cared in Sharia law where women in the west are used as comodities, sold with goods in magazines.

  66. February 18, 2009 at 18:58

    For VictorK and his defence of Sharia Law because “…it is none of the business of liberal west..”

    Civilised behaviour should be based on what tends towards and is perceived as being Equitable and Humane, but, in your mind, anything goes according to whichever dominant group has the power.

    So, Slavery was okay and needn’t be banned if some want to bring it back!?

    Tying female feet up in bandages until they’re hobbling that’s okay too!?

    Sending kids up chimneys to clean them helps the environment!?

    Come to think of it, let’s get the ducking stool out and start testing for witches again!?

    None of the above apply to Sharia Law, but, following your logic all would still be perfectly legal.

    It is the minority and the weakest who must be offered first and most protection in any society that claims to be civilised. If you cannot recognise that Sharia law is the concern of everyone of us then you are living in the wrong century.

    Sometimes, just a little forethought would go a long, long way VictorK!

  67. 68 Dan
    February 18, 2009 at 19:00

    I knew that sooner or later one of the guests would blame this all on America. Does anyone in Islam take any personal responsibility or is it always the fault of someone else?

  68. February 18, 2009 at 19:02

    I am very sick and tired of a few people actions which demonize islam and sharia law. Why stop educating women when the first word of the Holy Quran to the prohet is READ!!ITS READ NOT BLOW YOURSELF!!ITS READ!! The prophet himself said EDUCATION IS C-O-M-P-U-L-S-U-R-Y TO MALES AND FEMALES. So sharia law does not dictate the uneducation of women thats some individuals view which contradicts the prophet which HARAM.

  69. February 18, 2009 at 19:03

    Saeed Ali, “… during time of the Prophet… women educated.. his first wife was a wealthy businesswoman..”

    Yes, and his last wife was a 9 year old!?

  70. 71 Hussain Bhatti
    February 18, 2009 at 19:07

    Honestly, we should adapt the saying: once bitten, twice careful….but here the situation is understandbly createdby by the so called Talibans(shielded terrorist) who are no less than any evil regim. they should not be given any chance of truce under any pretext…..how you want to let this happen…its simple…wipe them out….we already lost 1000z of people dead by now why not kill lil extra and close the deal right out…..im totally against this drama….its no more than wag the dog!!!

  71. 72 Sarahfina
    February 18, 2009 at 19:09

    Reading some of the comments above I am saddened to see so much cultural relativism. Many people are asking “If it’s what they (meaning Muslims) want, who are we to say it’s bad?” and “Sharia just seems bad because we’re Western Liberals, we don’t have a right to tell another country what to do.” – These opinions are relativist. Should we applaud clitorectomy because it’s a part of someones “culture”?
    When people write that we should step out of the fray because the people of Sawat have chosen Sharia for themselves, I think you’re all missing the key component to how law works. The at-risk populations – in this case, women and children – *don’t get an opinion*. Sharia law is what the Muslim men want. We should be using our political leverage in the West to protect the women and children of Sawat.

  72. 73 VictorK
    February 18, 2009 at 19:16

    In many ways a subdued programme. I’m not an Islamic scholar but know enough about the religion to realise when I’m being spun a line.

    The BBC needs to get wise to the fact (though it may be already) that if you want to explore Islamic issues candidly you need input from non-Muslim scholars of Islam. No Muslim – not even the so-called ‘moderates’ – will ever make any admissions about Islam that discredit the religion, however true. Instead you get from them public relations chatter about how Sharia means ‘justice’ and how anything done in its name embarrasses Muslims and shows Islam in a bad light isn’t ‘true’ or the ‘right’ Sharia. Childish. Tariq Ramadan is a very capable propagandist for his faith, but he spoke without showing the slightest scholarship about Sharia, about the established traditions of Islamic law, and about what has been accepted as ‘Sharia’ in 1300 years of Islamic practice (e.g. stoning to death). Why? Because his main concern, and one shared to varying degrees by all your Muslim guests, is to protect Islam, not to give a disinterested account of Sharia.

    There are Mullahs who would have been glad of the opportunity to get onto the BBC and defend the Taliban-Al Quaeda approach to Sharia. But for some reason we are never permitted to hear such people (as with Hizb ut al Tahir a while back). In future it would be good to hear from all shades of Islamic opinion, and not just the acceptable Quilliam-esque voices.

  73. 74 Hussain Bhatti-Kuwait
    February 18, 2009 at 19:19

    Honestly, we should adapt the saying: once bitten, twice careful….but here the situation is understandbly created by by the so called Talibans(shielded terrorists) who are no less than any evil regime. they should not be given any chance of truce under any pretext.
    how you want to let this happen…its simple…wipe them out….we already lost 1000z of people dead by now (all killed under the cushion of shria) why dont we kill few extra and close the deal right out…..im totally against this drama of justice….its no more than “wag the dog”!!!
    these people are not muslims at ALL….ISLAM in itself is a whole modern, diverse, peaceful social fabric… which is tarnished by these type of radical elements…i hope the President of Pakistan think twice before wasting his ink on any piece of uselss paper…
    kinldy publish my post…i tried posting earlier but got stuck with the net lag…
    thank you….Hussain from Kuwait

  74. 75 Yasmine/lebanon
    February 18, 2009 at 19:28

    hmm, well in my personal opinion i don’t think it was a good idea to give them a portion of a community because then what stops them from increasing their attacks and getting more land then before. hey, i am all about cultures and respecting other religions and their laws. But their should be some limits just like their are limits on freedom.

  75. February 18, 2009 at 19:36

    So exactly why was it that we invaded Afghanistan again? Oh yeah to bring the tyrany of the talaban style of Shiria law to an end and to capture Osama Bin Laden. Nice job so far.

  76. 77 McCulloch-Kerr Andrew
    February 18, 2009 at 19:36

    The Taliban are terrorists; granted in some areas they may appear to be better than the legitimate forces or rule owing to the scale of corruption and extreme neglect or discrimination. However, to condone these psychotics with their murders, mutilations and bombings in the name of a religious leader, is both a blasphemy and heresy, quite apart from being criminal and evil.

    It is legitimising gangs of bandits and brigands, gathered under banners. This might have been acceptable in days thousands of years ago when legitimacy was more akin to the best and most efficient killers and robbers, but have we not evolved from these base values: apparently not fully yet!


  77. 78 KD
    February 18, 2009 at 20:08

    Is it not arm twisting?
    It will send a wrong precedence across the globe. “Do violence so that state will force to have sharia law to achieve peace”

  78. 79 Alan J Taylor
    February 18, 2009 at 20:39

    My eventual World Government would make obligatory in every sovereign country the daily publication (by all its media systems – press/radio/tv – ) a clear and systematicand bulletin containing all aspects of its laws . This would hopefully minimise the terrible consequences of mis-interpretation by ill informed ,misguided , though possibly well intentioned ,writers,broacasters,journalists, even politicians!

  79. 80 h kpelly
    February 18, 2009 at 21:57

    if what I’ve read about sharia law is practiced to the letter I don’t think groups like aqaeeda and taleban will be tolerated anywhere in the Islamic world. My question is why are they being tolerated and in this particular case of Pakistan they are to be accepted and acknowledged? mac sandells thanks for the help.

  80. 81 h kpelly
    February 18, 2009 at 22:04

    All moslems owe it as an honourable duty to remove all such evil groups such as taleban and alqaeeda from Islam and distance them from the religion because clearly they are misrepresenting, misinterpreting, misquoting and misapplying the sharia law and for that matter the holy quoran.

  81. 82 Adam
    February 19, 2009 at 00:31

    Saeed Ali,

    Sharia Law might have treated women better at some point in the past, but were they truly treated as equals to men? Men have grand, sweeping powers granted to them through the Muslim religion, whereas women are relegated to the corner and thrown scraps like animals. And what about issues like homosexuality? Is Sharia Law flexible enough to deal with something as complicated as that?

    Time and time again Islamic Republics around the world have proven to be unbending and completely intolerant of the evolution of human beings, so why allow these archaic, unnatural laws to continue to imprison people?

  82. 83 Marge
    February 19, 2009 at 06:42

    To ray ridge, I totally agree. Sharia Law reinforces the worst of Male actions and attitudes to women.
    To abdulahi. Why are you afraid of women?

  83. February 19, 2009 at 07:27

    We know that the truce was signed with the Taliban Just for peace and was condemned by human right organization due to its content. I would like to address some points which forced the govt to this truce.

    First, Taliban is in power of whole Swat, & there is no govt; writ. To restore govt; their writ to some areas in swat, they made this truce.

    Secondly, The people of swat is going under a difficult situation, Which they never seen in their whole lives, they are forced to support Taliban financially, They are to follow the so-called rule of Taliban, by banning their daughter, sister, children education and so on…..

    Lastly, the govt is no more in a position to control these people.

    Keeping in view above factore, there is no option for the govt; beside the truce.
    I persoanlly belong to swat, i have fist hand knowledge of theThis situation.
    I have seen their justic to innocent people. Every one is against them but they cann’t raise their voice. In case of doing so, he is either beheaded or looted( deprived from their house and other property). They do this in order to terrorise the people. There is no one to stop them from killing innocent people. The armed forces,our last hope, are also not in a postions to protect swatian from Taliban due to the reasons best known to them. To be honest, our armed forces & ISI don’t want to eliminate Taliban, because it is their own production.

    Now, 90% schools has been destroyed, all connecting bridges has been damged and all the people, who raised against them, has been killed. What i want to undestand to my readers is that the Taliban did all the things thay want to do before.

    We can say that they have accomplissed there mission.

    The people know all the story, and they want to get ride of this situation. That is why we support this truce. We just want peace and don’t wan to see this situation any more. The people who oppose this act, have no sampty with innocent people.
    Their houses are safe, their children are getiting highy standard education, they are secure, if they experienced such type of situation. They would be supporting this truce. I request them to understand the realies and play positive role in this situations. If they don’t beilve me then i would like them to come to swat for some
    days , automatically they will supporter of this ruce.

    I hope you all will understand.

    Ikabl from Swat , Governament of Taliban

  84. February 19, 2009 at 09:48

    sharia simply means justice,but any misinterpreted justice that either comes from judiciary systems or scriptures,can never bring peace.not even satisfaction….but as for the new admistration in pakistan,i think this could be a strategy of trapping the taliban,mujahideen or whoever they are by sitting side by side but eventually strike them like a snake that has forgotten its charmer after all has been done and said…the talibans will actually be striked like the RED MOSQUE,for no one would like corrupt mobs holding their own kangaroo courts.


  85. 86 Roberto
    February 19, 2009 at 11:27

    RE “” these people are not muslims at ALL “”

    ———— Thank you for making the point about the Muslim disconnect, Muslims seemingly denying that other Muslims are really Muslims.

    This disconnect is uniquely human, not just Muslim, and leads to all manner of self generated disconnects denying responsibility like the current global economic crisis.

  86. 87 Aimal Khan
    February 19, 2009 at 16:22

    i read almost all the comments and i didnt see anyone who is actully from swat valley. let me tell you something. i am from swat valley my self. its easier to just sit in your room infront of your laptop and say that sharia law is not the answer. more then 1000 people have been killed. the army has killed more people (wemen and kids) the the taliban beacuse they do air attacks and hit houses.
    almost all the people in swat wants a sharia law. the main focous is the legal system there. the people want the legal system to change.
    my family is involved in a court case over some land that they have won in almost every court including the supream court in pakistan. but it keeps going back to the local court …. this has been going on for 22 YEARS. It takes years and years for a court case to be solved and sometimes it never is. because the whole system is corrupt. WHY DID NO HUMAN RIGHTS PERSON SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THAT?

  87. February 19, 2009 at 19:14

    There is some real bitterly ironic political & military lesson-twists in all this.

    Which the two Islamic nations are according to Diplomatic concensus the mainstays of the democratic-capitalist world’s anti-fundamentalist terror policies? Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

    Which two Islamic nations contribute more fanatical followers to the islamic-terrorist fundamentalism movement:? Saudi Arabia and Pakistan!

    Which two Islamic nations have the strictest of Sharia laws and the most anti-Female attitudes amongst their Male populations? Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

    Which two Islamic nations have significant minority muslim populations in almost every democratic-capitalist nation? Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

    Talk about the enemy within!?

  88. 89 Adeel Ahmed
    February 19, 2009 at 21:31

    Taleban, aren’t they the same Mujahideen who once were supported by American Govt in their war against Communism, who created them and who fundded them and who is paying the price ?

    Sharia Law, I am so shocked to see some people sitting Kentucky worried about people living in Sawat because they think that Sharia Law is against a civilized world, A world civilized enough to have their right of freedom of speach working against Islam and Prophet Mohammed but Prohibits to have a say about Holocaust.

    Human rights? Are there any? Tell me when those tortured in Abu Gharib Jail, or Guantanamo Bay get a right to appeal against the inhuman behavior of the invaders.

    If people of Sawat wants a Sharia Law to be imposed and its their free will then what right do we have to condemn them?

  89. February 20, 2009 at 00:46

    No. The Americans need to explain quite well that we are dumping 2-4 million convicts and illegal aliens into areas suspected of being base camp areas that alquada and the Taliban use.

    The job of these will be to kill as many Taliban as is possible or interact with them to such an extent that the Taliban will not know what to do with so many American bad guys up in their area that they will eventually tire of the idea that attacking America.

    The trick is to get the Taliban to tire of wasting their lives running around trying to kill so many really bad Americans who will be trying to take their dope, their women, and their money. food and lodging.

    Eventually they will get the idea that praying to Allah is about the only thing left.

    troop on the Oregon Coast

  90. February 20, 2009 at 10:50

    TROOP on the oregon coast

    Please don’t ever consider moving will you!

  91. 92 Isaac Bol in South South
    February 20, 2009 at 14:40

    Dear BBC,
    Sharia law is nothing to the non muslims world where everybody has to do whatever he/she things suits he/she.

  92. 93 John In Germany
    February 20, 2009 at 15:17

    Any law other than that of the laid down by the legal government, and adapted by the legal system, the alterations being made law by the Legal Government, should not be allowed.

    If we allow the Muslims such a cut in the democratic system of their adopted country, then we would have to allow the Hamish thier own, the Wesliens thier own, and so on.

    Soldiers as guest in an other country have to abide by the host countries laws and the military law of thier own country. If a person wishes to take advantage of the social-medical systems and the prosperity of another country, then he should be obliged to live by the law of the host country, with no exceptions.

    Here in Germany a young man has been sentenced to a long prison sentence for killing his own sister. The killing was premeditated, therefore the sentence. The parents and family of both, nearly caused a riot because of the sentence.
    They live here, enjoy the modern German life with all of its advantages, compared to thier own country. But have not adapted.The death of the girl meant nothing to them, just the sentence of the Brother. Need i say more.

    Why should we tolerate, and give in. In my early days in Germany, i was moaning to a good German friend who said” if you don’t like it here, go Home” he was right. I adapted, and we are still good friends. Don’t come with- there is no difference in the cultures of Britain and Germany, there is, and adaptation is needed.

    Good old world.
    John in Germany

  93. 94 Emile Barre
    February 21, 2009 at 12:35

    This is surely a matter for the people who are most affected by war and the price they consider worth paying for peace. Any peace must be just if it is to endure,if the people affected consider Sharia just and it is the democratic will of that people then that is sufficient until such time as they decide otherwise.

  94. 95 Bob in SW Florida
    February 21, 2009 at 17:57

    So again I ask, is Sharia law written down anywhere? If it is not then how can it be compared to another laws? If it is not and it is administered by whim of a cleric and is not practiced uniformly then all that has been discussed is just uninformed BS.

  95. February 22, 2009 at 09:38

    What a preposterous way to start a discussion and what a sappy headline. When you’re town is cockeyed left and right, from air and from ground, when there is little to no ability to deal resourcefully to wrong interpretations of law and jurisprudence by Taliban, along with counter-productive and wide off the mark US projectiles that have killed mostly citizens; if there ever was an optimistic glimpse of a ceasefire that is backed by most swat citizens, I’m sure most people here in the same predicament would consent.

    There are 1.5 million people there and about 5,000 Taliban. Why are we obsessed? You want to spread democracy? Aaahh what a distortion, an aberration… This kind of deformed intellection may need to look a little bit into the history of the Taliban, almost all Arab dictators (who are sitting fat put thanks to my tax dollars; man I really hate neo-cons), and any chance of ‘western democracy’ in the Middle East and the Greater Middle East.

    Please, no pudden-head-type answers like, ‘hey, we didn’t start 9/11’. I’m not into petty contentions.

  96. February 23, 2009 at 16:24

    Peace is indispensable,
    there is nothing without peace.

    Swat is called paradiz, Switzerland,has made hell.
    who is responsible for that.

    Sharia laws are being imposed by those ,have been combating against the writ of the state.

    Some quarters are claiming centre has failed to maintain peace in the region so defeated but i am not agree,because preference is being given to security and security is essential .

    Pls note,if they are succeed to provide justice to the people,if they restore epople legal rights who will stop the movement of talban toward the centre,it will be also unacceptable for a superpower who is surging stamina there.

    over 8 years has passed,war is going on ,war has been eyond the grip of powers, there is no solution but the negotiation so it is better to recognise what they want for peace and security. soliderity and integrity.

  97. 98 Pirabee
    February 25, 2009 at 10:53

    I never get published when I speak my mind about Islam on BBC. Phew! Unless I’m mistaken BBC has a head office in London in the centre of England, a nation representing one of the bastions of democracy in the world today. And democracy defends – nay, demands – free speech. Yet whenever the topic on BBC swings over to those who kill, maim and disfigure others in the name of their faith – and I speak up – I don’t get published!!!

    Someone please explain to me why a certain trait of Muslims (i.e.staunching of free speech) is finding its way into BBC in the heart of England in Europe!

  98. 99 Mark Sandell
    February 25, 2009 at 11:59

    Pirabee you don’t get published when you use threatening language, it’s against the rules.

  99. 100 Ibrahim in UK
    February 27, 2009 at 14:54

    “Is Sharia law a price worth paying for peace?”

    Unfortunately, the tone of the question is already a criticism of Sharia and hardly instills confidence of an impartial approach to the issue. (and we all know how important impartiality is to the BBC).

    The people of that region should decide if they want Sharia or any other law for that matter. IF that is their free will and they feel happy with it, then be it. We don’t impose our legal system on France or Peru, why do we feel we have the right to impose it on anyone in Pakistan?
    It is quite disingenious of the West to suddenly be concerned with regions which adopt Sharia when many of our Middle East “allies” (i.e. dictators supported by the West) also have Sharia law.

    However, the real question is not about Sharia, it’s about how much Pakistan should surrender to militants. Today they want Sharia, tomorrow they might want lower taxes, then more territory, one day independence. Whether they allow Sharia or not in the region, it must be always be accountable to the legitimate government.

  100. March 9, 2009 at 21:05

    Why the western goverments targeting muslims in particular who are imposing sharia law on their own citizens while there is communism,jewish,chresstianity is adopted in many countries around the world,it is not compulsory for none muslims to convert islam under islamic law,every body have the right to choose his own religion,but the religion of islam is valid for every time,every place and for every human life and no need for modification.islam is not oppresing the women in the opposite.islam gave the women bigger role and respect and there is Qur,anic surah named after the women,they have special part in our life ,they are our mothers,sisters,wives and doughters.please let us impose our own sharia,if you dont like don,t come to us..leave us alone… lastly compare islam and other existing religions you will see the difference in your eyes and hearts .thanks

  101. 102 viola
    March 11, 2009 at 15:52

    A better question: Is the freedom to practice whatever religion one believes in or to believe in no religion at all when church and state are separated worth the loss of unity that is sometimes achieved when only one religion is allowed?

    The kind of peace that is achieved by the imposition by law of a belief that may not be your own is a false one that will inevitably fail.

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