Sunday midday, 12th July, 2009. The first day after our arrival in Tuscany.

We drove to a nearby village in the hope of finding a bakery. Finding nothing, at one point I got out of the car to try to ask the first person I met if he knew of any bakery still open. The big man immediately got up from where he was seated in the shade and invited me to follow him. We walked into a small street where there was indeed a bakery, but it too was closed. He then suggested that we wait in our car for him to come in his and then we should follow him. He would drive to his home nearby to give us the bread we needed. So this we did.

We soon arrived at a large house with big automatic wrought iron gates, a fair sized garden and two dogs.
The man gave us the bread but emphatically refused any payment for it. His wife then showed us some of the work of their artist daughter Nicoletta, after we had expressed admiration of a painting displayed in the lounge next to the kitchen. It was all very impressive.

We were graciously offered an aperitif and then even invited to lunch, our host honouring us further by de-corking one of his best wines. It was as if we were old friends or members of the family.

What a marvellously moving example of 'ospitalità e generosità toscane' to greet us on our first day in Italy!

Nicoletta's parents are naturally concerned for her regarding her vocation, but it is obvious that she is already an accomplished artist. Although age should never be regarded as a criterion where art is concerned, one can't help being all the more impressed when the creator of such work is only twenty two years old. One naturally assumes that in a few more years she will be producing chef d'oeuvres that will reflect even more this inherent confidence and generosity.

Such a random meeting, such spontaneous trust and goodness can only reinforce the conviction that there is no such thing as 'hazard'. It would thus be an honour to to do what one can to try help the artist, assuming Nicoletta agrees.

Text © Mirino (PW). Paintings © Nicoletta Bicocchi. August, 2009



 How can British law, with the centuries of history (and decreasing religious influence) it took to effectively establish it since the signing of the Magna Carta, be considered compatible with Sharia law?
In principle Sharia law hasn't essentially changed since 650 AD, 565 years before King John reluctantly signed the famous document the 10th June, 1215, and this was only one of the many paving stones of historical events leading to the modern, democratic and constitutional law of England.

Even earlier, in the twelth century, brutal sentences of the Sharia including the severing of limbs and death by stoning were often waved by more indulgent (and less barbaric) Muslim authorities of Persia.

Yet with the incredible support of the seemingly unenlightened Archbishop of Canterbury and the Supreme Judicial Authorities of England, the application of the Sharia as a parallel institution of law has been authorised in Great Britain, supposedly for the sake of multicultural integration (if not for other, even less valid reasons).

Apparently, amazingly, in 'England's green and pleasant land' there are already more than eighty Sharia courts in operation.

This concession seems all the more incredible in view of how incompatible Sharia law is, not only with the laws and values of England, but with the principles of democracy itself. And there is no way Islamic laws can be 'updated' or 'democratised' to adapt them more appropriately to civilisation, certainly of this century, at least not without Islamic purists condemning any such efforts as contrary to the teachings of the Prophet, therefore as 'blasphemous corruption'.

When, for example, a pardon or condemnation could be tacitly purchased, or the former be irresponsibly granted without conditions, or vindictively refused by the family of a victim- as was the case with the young Iranian artist, Delera Darabi, sentenced to death for a crime she had never committed and was never really tried for- where is there justice and democracy?
Had this case been tried in an English court of law, there is no doubt that Delera would be alive and free today, so how can Sharia law ever be considered legally adaptable as a parallel institution to that of English law? It's totally incoherent.

One wonders if the legal authorities of Great Britain ever took time out to fully inform themselves of what Sharia law consists of. This applies equally to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Shouldn't he be more supportive towards the principles of the religion he's supposed to represent, and less concerned by pre-medieval Islamic laws that seem more prone to advocate intolerance?

Such incoherence seems even more absurdly incongruous considering that Nato is defending a threatened democracy in Afghanistan from fundamentalists whose main objectives include imposing Sharia law. Whilst young soldiers are thus risking life and limb doing their utmost to defend the back door of democracy elsewhere, the British legal authorities seem to have nothing better to do than casually open the front door granting access to the same fundamentalism in the heart of England!

It would be very naive and condescending to believe it possible to grant 'a certain measure' of Sharia law. Muslims are not supposed to reason in 'certain measures'. And Sharia law is only one aspect of Islam which is essentially a way of life. As such it could also be regarded a Moslem duty to impose it wherever and whenever possible.

Naturally the Supreme Court of England would never be allowed to impose English law in Saudi Arabia or Iran, etc. for the benefit of ex.-pats working there, so why should the application of Sharia law be permitted for the benefit (or non benefit) of Muslims (if not non Muslims) who have chosen to live in Great Britain?

It follows that if one opts to live in a European country, one also wishes to adopt European values and to live according to European law. Indeed many moderate Muslims may have made such an initial commitment to escape from the rigours of what seems to be a general, international increment in Islamic fundamentalism.
If this wasn't the case surely one would prefer to continue to live in his or her native homeland. This, unless an underlying objective, determined by such radicalism, is to use the flaws of democracy itself, including it's essential multicultural freedom and 'majority rule' to gradually impose Islamic fundamentalism throughout Europe, to the total detriment of Europeans, European culture and European democracy.

If it's not already 'too late' to prohibit the application of Sharia law in Great Britain, and to encourage Muslims who wish to live according to Islamic law and Islamic values to return to where these are naturally more fully adhered to and respected, then it would seem primordial to do so without delay.

It could otherwise be that certain eminent, Right Honourable, robed, wigged, absent-minded and short-sighted lords of British justice have inadvertently lit the fuse to an Islamic time bomb destined to be more explosive than anything since the signing of the Magna Carta.

Text and Illustrations © Mirino (PW) August, 2009