Accepted paper:

Legal diversity within and beyond the scope of the state: faith-based dispute management in Canada in the aftermath of the shari'a law dispute in Ontario and its repercussions in Morocco


Bertram Turner (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyzes faith-based arbitration in Canada in the aftermath of the shari'a law dispute in Ontario and the debate on reasonable accommodation in Quebec. An empirical example in which Moroccans and Quebecers of Moroccan origin were involved shows changing attitudes toward legal diversity.

Paper long abstract:

State legislation in Canada has been regarded as one of the most advanced and path breaking state legislations worldwide allowing for legal and cultural diversity in accordance with multiculturalism politics. The inclusion of faith-based arbitration according to the Ontario Arbitration Act of 1991, however, has been deleted in 2006 after a vehement public dispute over the compatibility of Islamic law with Canadian legislation, particularly over the legal and social status of women in Islamic law — a decision with reverberations all over Canada and beyond. The paper addresses the question of the continuation and reconsolidation of faith-based arbitration in the aftermath of the dispute, then without any connection to the official legal sphere. This development is analyzed in the light of the debate over stately guaranteed legal diversity and religious self-determination as facets of multicultural coexistence. In this context, the public debate on the findings of the "Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences (CCPARDC)" in the state of Québec is contrasted with the transnational discourse on the role of Islamic ethics and moral order in dispute settlement which links Muslims of Moroccan origin in Québec with their interlocutors in Morocco. The paper shows that Canadian Muslims of Moroccan origin identify with an adjustment of Islamic arbitration to the normative standards of Canadian multiculturalism and that the transnational debate helps liberal Muslims in Morocco dealing with the increasing importance of moral Islamic reasoning in dispute settlements where local legal standards, transnational Islamic normative dogmatism and state law are involved.

pdf download Download the full paper (84468 bytes)
panel W069
Law matters: mapping legal diversity