Jacqui Lambie calls Sharia law an 'anti-democratic cancer' while activist argues 'equality'

Mel Buttigieg

Senator Jacqui Lambie has released a video calling Sharia law an "anti-democratic cancer that doesn't belong in a modern society".

The outspoken Tasmanian crossbencher said in the video she wanted to make six obvious points about Sharia law. It follows her heated debate with Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied on Q&A on Monday night.

In a fiery exchange Ms Abdel-Magied said Senator Lambie knew nothing about her faith after the crossbencher said "anybody that supports Sharia Law in this country should be deported".

In the clip, Senator Lambie said the Muslim belief imposed the death penalty on gay people and women who were not faithful to their husbands, and denied the rights for Jews to live in peace.

Senator Jacqui Lambie said women who accepted only the 'good bits' of Sharia law may as well say 'I only want to be a little bit pregnant'. Picture: Q&A/ABC

"Highlighting and accepting the good bits of Sharia law, like praying five times a day, while at the same time ignoring the death penalty for women who have sex outside marriage, is like saying 'I only want to be a little bit pregnant'," Senator Lambie said in the video.

"Acceptance of Sharia law is a clear sign of a divided loyalty. You are loyal to some religious leader in the Middle East and his ruling, not to the Australian constitution, and our democratic system of government."

Fellow Q&A panellist Abdel-Magied was quick to follow up the debate with her own video explanation of how she interpreted Sharia law, and its impact on Australians.

In the clip shared to her Facebook page early Wednesday morning, the Youth Without Borders founder explained Sharia was not a system of "law" at all, but rather "a Muslim's personal relationship with their God", and a set of "supremely complex" beliefs that focused on "justice and equality".

Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied said Sharia law focused on

That breakdown was a stark contrast to Lambie's overview of the Islamic code which she believed enforced inequality.

"I wear a hijab, or a headscarf, but it may not look like the traditional head scarf that you may expect - and that's the point," Abdel-Magied explained.

The 25-year-old Sudanese-born social advocate pointed out some women wore a traditional scarf, while others donned a burqa or a niqab, and some don't cover their heads at all, but it was "their choice".

"The Quran clearly states there is no compulsion on religion, so a proper interpretation of Sharia doesn't ever force anyone to ever to follow its rules."

However Ms Abdel-Magied said the belief "religiously obligated" its followers to abide by Australian law, or "the Law of the Land" as she spoke about on Q&A earlier this week.

The advocate for women's empowerment clarified her previous statement made on the ABC program, where she said Islam was a feminist religion, confused many people.

Senator Jacqui Lambie (right) insisted those who supported Sharia Law in Australia should be deported, during Monday night's heated debate about migration, while activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied struggled to remain calm. Picture: Q&A/ABC

“Islam to me is the most feminist religion. We got equal rights well before the Europeans. We don’t take our husband’s last names because we ain’t their property. We were given the right to own land,” Abdel-Magied said on Monday.

“What is culture, is separate than what is faith. And that fact that people go around dissing my faith without knowing anything about it and want to chuck me out of a country.”

In Wednesday morning's video, the Young Australian of the Year emphasized the difference between religion and culture, using the example of Saudi Arabia making where it was unlawful for women to drive. She said it was a "cultural law" that did not represent what Sharia stood for.

Ms Abdel-Magied acknowledged some Muslim countries were also violent, sexist and repressed their citizens, but claimed that was due to their nation's politics and culture - which was separate to Sharia.

She also advised "murder was completely forbidden" and said "if one kills an innocent person if was as if they had killed the whole of humanity."

"I follow Sharia and my interoperation of that means that I also need to fight for people's human rights."

According to Islamic law, the punishment for adultery is the same for both men and women, according to Dr Raihan Ismail, from the Australian National University's Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies.

Dr Ismail also added Sharia law made no mention of Jews, as Lambie suggested.

Last week, Lambie renewed her bid to ban the burqa from public places after introducing a new bill to prohibit full face coverings in airports and other Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Muslim leaders and activists have demanded the ABC apologise for airing Lambie's "racist, Islamophobic and crude" beliefs on its panel program, calling it "racial abuse" and have started a Change.Org petition which is rapidly gaining support.

"We demand an apology from Q&A for its poor handling of the debate and for its failure to uphold its values of respect and integrity, as giving airtime to racial and ethno-religious abuse fills individuals with hate to commit serious crimes against Muslims," the petition stated.

"Islamophobia should not be tolerated, not in any workplace, and not in any forum."

Today's top news stories - February 16