Gerald Batten

WASHINGTON – An initiative challenging Muslim communities living in the West to subordinate their interpretations of Sharia law to the laws of the land has been launched at the European Parliament.

The Muslim Charter, written by Islamic law expert Sam Solomon and sponsored by Gerald Batten, a British member of the European Parliament, is designed to encourage Muslims to state that they reject extremist interpretations of religious texts that promote or excuse violence and bring Islam into conflict with the modern world.

Groups purporting to represent Muslims were encouraged to sign the charter to affirm that they reject violence and discrimination against non-Muslims, value the freedoms of the West and want to live as law-abiding citizens.

The 10-article charter calls on the Muslim community to issue a fatwa prohibiting the use of violence or threats to their followers.

It also asks that Muslims promote understanding of the precedence of national laws over Sharia law. In fact, the charter requires Islamic institutions to revise and issue new interpretations of Quranic verses that call for jihad and violence against non-Muslims.

“We call on all organizations representing the Islamic faith to endorse and sign this charter as an example to all European Muslims,” said Solomon. “By doing so they will make it clear that Islam really is a religion of peace and that acts of terrorism carried out in its name are acts of misguided individuals who have misunderstood and misinterpreted its teaching.”

Batten, who has written a foreword to the charter, said: “The views of so-called fundamentalists who believe in Islamic theocracy are simply incompatible with Western liberal democracy, and we have seen how dangerous they are. But the vast majority of Muslims that non-Muslims meet every day are hardworking, decent and law abiding, and we must offer them support while standing firm against extremists. This charter is a great step forward in that process.”

Solomon, a human rights activist, was born in the Middle East, became a renowned Islamic scholar and went on to become a leading imam and emir with the authority to issue fatwas. He is an adviser to various governmental departments on issues relating to Islam and acts as a legal adviser to Christians suffering persecution in Islamic countries.

In 10 detailed articles, the charter calls upon Muslims to:

  • Respect non-Muslim religions and issue a fatwa prohibiting the use of force, violence or threats to their followers.

  • Respect all civilizations, cultures and traditions and promote understanding of the precedence of national laws over Sharia law.

  • Respect Western freedoms, especially of belief and expression and prohibit violent reaction against people who make use of these freedoms.

  • Prohibit the issuing of any fatwa that would result in violence or threat against individuals or institutions.

  • Request Islamic institutions to revise and issue new interpretations of Quranic verses calling for jihad and violence against non-Muslims.

“The Western European view of religion, achieved after centuries of bloodshed, conflict and division, is that religion is a matter of private belief and conscience,” wrote Batten in the foreword. “Islamic fundamentalists do not share this view. They do not believe in the nation state, democracy, the equality of women or toleration. They believe in Islamic theocracy, a universal Muslim society, the Umma, based on political rule according to the Quran and Sunnah.”

He added “the West has been amazingly lax in recognizing the threat posed to its security, freedoms, values and the cohesiveness of society by Islamic fundamentalism.”

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