UK study: Shari’a courts ‘incompatible’

Jun 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

UK study: Shari’a courts ‘incompatible’

Jun. 30, 2009
jonny paul, jpost correspondent in london , THE JERUSALEM POST

Dozens of Islamic courts operating in the United Kingdom are “seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation,” according to a report published by London think tank Civitas on Monday.

Shari'a Law

Shari'a Law

Denis MacEoin, author of the Civitas report “Shari’a Law or One Law For All?” wrote that Shari’a rulings contained great potential for controversy and could involve acts contrary to UK legal norms and human rights legislation.

According to the report, Shari’a courts should not be recognized under Britain’s 1996 Arbitration Act, as they claim authority over the private lives of individuals in a way that is contrary to the British tradition.

“Among the rulings, we find some that advise illegal actions and others that transgress human rights standards as applied by British courts,” MacEoin wrote.

Examples set out in the study include a ruling that no Muslim woman may marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam, and that any children of a woman who does should be taken from her until she marries a Muslim.

Other rulings, according to the report, approve polygamous marriage and enforce a wife’s “duty” to have sex with her husband on demand.

“The fact that so many Shari’a rulings in Britain relate to cases concerning divorce and custody of children is of particular concern, as women are not equal in Shari’a law, and Shari’a contains no specific commitment to the best interests of the child that is fundamental to family law in the UK. Under Shari’a, a male child belongs to the father after the age of seven, regardless of circumstances,” the report said.

“Thus, in October 2008, the House of Lords ruled that Shari’a was incompatible with human rights when a Lebanese woman sought asylum in the UK because, if she had been sent back to Lebanon, she would have been ordered to hand over her son to a violently abusive husband,” it added.

“In our legal system, no punishments can be applied to individuals who fail to live up to religious requirements,” said David Green, the editor of the study said in the introduction.

In the study, MacEoin reproduces a range of fatwas issued by popular fatwa Web sites, run out of or accessed through mosques in the UK, and in some cases, even from UK Muslim schools. According to MacEoin, the courts operate largely out of mosques and are closed to independent observers. Thus, it is extremely difficult to find out what goes on in them.

Shari'a Law

Shari'a Law

Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said a recognized role for Shari’a law in Britain seemed “unavoidable,” and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Philips, who stepped down last October, said there was no reason why decisions made on Shari’a principles should not be recognized by the national courts.

Meanwhile, in an article in July’s current affairs magazine Standpoint, Center for Social Cohesion (CSC) researcher Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens has revealed how the British government is actively promoting a crucial aspect of the sharia program.

According to the article, the British government is set to co-sponsor two events later this year which will promote sharia finance. Sharia banking is one of the essential cogs of the sharia system.”

Meleagrou-Hitchens said that in October the government’s UK Trade and Investment Organization is co-sponsoring the Islamic Finance and Trade Conference with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

The MCB has strong connections with the Jamaat e-Islami, an Islamist political party which created the first detailed argument for the creation of an alternative, Islamist financial system. The government recently distanced itself from the MCB because Daud Abdullah, MCB’s deputy-secretary general, put his name to a statement supporting violent jihad in Israel. The statement also explicitly rejects all peace initiatives in the region and makes indirect threats to British naval vessels involved in stopping the smuggling of weapons to Hamas.

He also said that the Scottish government is co-sponsoring ‘Etisal 2009: Scottish-Islamic Investment Expo’ with the Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF), also in October. The chief executive of the SIF is Osama Saeed, who has written that he would welcome the return of an Islamic Caliphate and refers to Hamas suicide bombings as martyrdom operations.

“Many of those who campaign for an increase in Sharia financial services in the UK are doing so as part of an overall program to implement sharia law on Muslims in Europe and to send the message that it is the duty of all Muslims to bank in such a way if they wish to be considered proper Muslims,” Meleagrou-Hitchens said.

In an article in July’s current affairs magazine Standpoint, Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) researcher Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens has revealed how the British government is actively promoting a crucial aspect of the Shari’a program.

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