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Canadians Protest Islamic Law Proposal

A proposal in one Canadian province to allow Muslim residents to use Islamic law for settling family disputes is drawing protests.

Organizers say the peaceful protests in Canada (search) and at some of its diplomatic sites in Europe (search) reflect growing concern over Ontario's (search) stance on Sharia (search) law.

The provincial government is considering the use of sharia in settling Muslim family disputes such as divorce. Opponents see it as a threat to women's rights and want to maintain a clear separation of church and state.

Ontario has allowed Catholic and Jewish tribunals to settle family law matters on a voluntary basis since 1991. The practice got little attention until Muslim leaders demanded the same rights.

Now officials must decide whether to exclude one religion, or scrap the whole idea of religious family courts.