Islamic law


On Midmorning today, it was hard to miss the litany of things that are going quite badly for the U.S. “anti terrorism” fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Julianne Smith, the director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that U.S. military forces will be doubled, while she answered an emphatic “yes” when asked whether she agrees with Gen. David Petraeus that there’s no military solution in Afghanistan. Petraeus said the same thing about Iraq in 2007, but Iraq had something resembling a functioning government in this century. Afghanistan has been a mess for centuries.

At the same time, Pakistan has given in to the Taliban, and agreed to enforce Islamic Law in the Swat Valley. That’s the last thing the U.S. wanted, Smith told Kerri Miller. The U.S. fears that Pakistan will be the new Afghanistan, a haven for Osama bin Laden to launch offensives against the West.

Few news sources today, however, reveal exactly what is meant by “Islamic law.” The Washington Post only says it doesn’t mean the brutal and repressive approach the Taliban took in Afghanistan.

Philip Reeves, National Public Radio’s man in the region, says people in the area are “fed up with a judiciary that’s broken down” and that they want local judicial units. Presumably that doesn’t mean beheadings and the stoning of rape victims. But what does it mean beyond that?

The New York Times says only that “they said the authorities agreed to a legal system rejecting any law that did not comply with the teachings of the Koran and the sayings and teachings of the prophet Muhammad, known as the Sunnah.” But who’s interpretation of the Koran?

The Associated Press says it doesn’t mean women won’t be educated.

Even the Christian Science Monitor fails to adequately describe the implications of the imposition, noting only that it will prevent the delay and costs of appeals to a secular court system.

In a years-old report, the Council on Foreign Relations notes that Sharia — Islamic Law — can take any number of forms.

(Photo: Delegation members of a pro-Taliban leader Soofi Mohammad, leave after an agreement with government officials in Peshawar on Sunday. Tariq Mahmood /AFP/Getty Images.)

  • Marmy Clason

    Hi Bob,

    This story has been seriously underplayed–glad to see it on News Cut. I can only hope a constant eye will be trained on the Swat Valley area; I am especially concerned about the treatment and education of young women. Every shred of evidence shows that educating young women lifts the whole society–not just women. It is true to an extent that the interpretation of the Koran rests with the local religious leaders. We can only hope and pray for a moderate and inclusive interpretation of Islamic Law in this critical area.


    PS–hope you remember me! fellow RVer–we finally got a hanger and are moving to it in April!

  • Bob Collins

    Rest assured, Marmy, I knew who you are instantly — and your knowledge about the subject.