Why we should oppose Islamic Sharia courts in Britain


11:05 am - August 16th 2013

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by Ben Six

The Islamic Sharia Council is the biggest Sharia body operating in Britain. The officialdom includes Maulana Abu Sayeed, Suhaib Hasan and Haitham al-Haddad. Sayeed, its President, was charged with involvement in war crimes in his homeland of Bangladesh, and has said that rape is “impossible” within marriages.

Hasan, its Secretary, was recorded by Undercover Mosque preaching that “the Khilaafah” will have “political dominance”; establish “the chopping of the hands of the thieves, the flogging of the adulterers and flogging of the drunkards” and wage “jihad against the non-Muslims”.

Haitham Al-Haddad, who represents the Council in the media, is a regular target of my blog. He is a sincere fellow and tends to be frank in expressing his principles. These are almost as obnoxious as principles can be but it is good to know where stands. It is what helps us to know that to have a man who endorses genital mutilation, tells parents to marry their daughters off while they are young, orders women to obey their husbands and tells people not to question men who beat their wives preside over familial affairs is dangerous and obscene.

Such beliefs can be reflected in the workings of the courts. I will take a moment to say that I have no grievance with anyone making the point that divorce, especially between people who have children, is a grave step that should be preceded with seriousness. What is vile about Suhaib Hasan, for one, is that he treats marital abuse with no such seriousness.

Panorama sent an undercover journalist to him, bearing a secret camera and a tale of regular, painful beatings from her husband. Hasan granted that she should go to the police as a last resort but told her that she should first ask him if she could appease him with her behaviour. To suggest that abuse might be a level response to, say, bad cooking is offensive in its silliness. To suggest that it is the victim’s duty to change her ways is obscene.

The Guardian plonked a camera down in his office two years ago. “He has hit me in the past,” it filmed a woman saying, “He hit me once”. “Only once?” Hasan replied with an obnoxious chuckle. “So it’s not a very serious matter”. How many women have been talked into staying with their husbands and endured further suffering?

Charlotte Proudman, a barrister blogging for the Independent, has explained how the courts are weighed against women.

If a husband seeks to divorce his wife, for example, he has to pay two hundred pounds. If a wife seeks to divorce her husband, she has to pay four hundred pounds. These women are not liable to have a great deal of spare cash. A woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s. An article on the website of the Islamic Sharia Council, which also endorsed capital punishment for adulterers almost in passing, said this is because “women…are governed by their emotions” while “man is governed by his mind”.

These courts have been overlooked because, well – they are filled with eccentric religionists doing things among themselves. This is idle. Women are being manipulated into endangering themselves, on the basis of ideas that most of them will have been raised to accept without question. Panorama alleged that kids have been ordered to be given up to violent husbands.

Moreover, men like Hasan, who wants to “offer” sharia law to the United Kingdom, and Haddad, who has spoken of the “Islamic Republic of Britain”, hope to one day expand their power over everyone.

It is time we made it harder for them to indulge their fantasies.

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Reader comments


“It is time we made it harder for them to indulge their fantasies.”

Whilst I fully agree with this, why are we even opposing Sharia courts, giving them some form of cerdibility?

Surely, given they have no standing within the laws of the land set down by parliament any judgement they pass down should simply be ignored if it falls outside the scope of UK law.

I look forward to reading the accompanying article condemning the use of the Beth Din and calling for it to be “harder for them to indulge their fantasies” as well.

These people are only doing what the quran and sharia say – so they are being ‘good’ muslims. Difference is they’re being honest about Jihad, Islam’s belief in the inferiority of women, chopping peoples hands off etc etc – so respect to them although these beliefs are totally medieval and barbaric. What I dont like is people pretending that quran and sharia is being ‘misunderstood’ and that Islam is really a cute and cuddly religion full of love for the infidel.

4. Man On Clapham Omnibus

At home we operate anti-sharia law. I obey my wife!

I would say that men beating their wives is pretty much officially sanctioned in the UK since the Tories have axed vast areas of Civil Legal aid. Kids are also now freely snatched from their mums and parents can lose their kids to care within 26 weeks on the basis of a (inexpensive) nod and a wink.

Don’t worry though,I wont vote for them.

Yay, we’ve become the Daily Telegraph.

To be absolutely clear, in a way that the article isn’t, the sharia arbitration councils (which aren’t, in any sense, courts) may only arbitrate in cases where both parties to a dispute both explicitly agree to the arbitration. If either party does not want to use the arbitration council, then the matter is resolved by the normal courts.

It might seem daft that a woman would voluntarily choose to adhere to a set of rules that are rigged against women. But we don’t ban Catholicism, because we accept that adults should be allowed to voluntarily make their own stupid decisions. The same should, obviously, apply to arbitration.

If Ian wants to show me how the people behind Beth Din councils hold ideas of similar levels of obnoxiousness of those who form the Islamic Sharia Councils, and how their rulings are similarly dangerous, I would be more than happy to consider the notion that they demand a similarly concerted response.

John is correct that sharia councils have no binding legal powers. I assumed that this was a matter of common knowledge, which was somewhat presumptuous as beyond the alphabet, a few times tables and the unfunniness of Ben Elton, almost nothing is a matter of common knowledge.

Someone made the point on Twitter that I should have used “councils” all the time instead of “courts”. I think that I felt the former obscured the hierarchical nature of the decision-making. (And, indeed, officials in other councils do not seem to mind using the term in defence of their work.) If it ended up obscuring the nature of their jurisdiction, though, that is regrettable. Perhaps it was an error.

On the other hand, I do not think this fact should make us passively accept these councils. Firstly, because people have been reported to have been forced to respect their decisions. This, evidently, should be of interest to the police. Secondly, because people feel as if they have to respect their decisions – and, indeed, as relative newcomers to the country in a lot of cases, might not know that other options are available – and because their children, who have no choice in the matter, have to live with the consequences of what they accept. Thirdly because the men in charge of this council, at the least, have far grander ambitions for the scope and force of their applications of the sharia, and it would be a fine thing to put them in their place.

It is a limitation of this piece that it does not insist upon a particular form of opposition. I am not, myself, entirely sure of what is appropriate, though it is worth mentioning that there are other legal ideas beyond simple prohibition. Yet one’s opposition need not to take the form of imposing a law. (As we are a bunch of powerless proles, indeed, we could not do that if we wanted to.) People seem to feel inspired to oppose David Irving’s book tour, even when they do not want to ban the old egotist.I hope I have done something to oppose Haddad, Hasan and co. just in publically tarring their reputations. It is satisfying, even if it is not effective.

7. the a&e charge nurse

[5] ‘sharia arbitration councils may only arbitrate in cases where both parties to a dispute both explicitly agree to the arbitration’ – consensual agreement between the sexes, oh you are a wag, john b.

And there is poor old Baroness Cox working on the ‘The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill’ to prevent discrimination against Muslim women and ‘jurisdiction creep’ in Islamic tribunals.
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2011/jun/08/sharia-bill-lords-muslim-women

Equality for women, yes, how very daily torygraph to worry about child custody, or domestic violence issues.

Aside from the horrible beliefs of the individuals BenSix mentions, the fundamental problem here is the women’s belief that those individuals and people like them are correct. That is, the women believe that they must get a sharia ruling.

Proudman writes about a woman who has been trying to obtain an Islam divorce for ten years – the Sharia council refuses.

In a Parliamentary debate there was mention of a woman who was hospitalised by her husband, pressured by her family to not tell the police, and the local Sharia council told her to return to her husband who beat her up again. She wants a religious divorce so she can marry within her faith but her husband’s family has kept documentation the Sharia council claims is prerequisite. Seven years later she still hasn’t an Islamic divorce.

Less horrifically, there was also mention of a widow who wanted to remarry but was told by the Sharia council to obtain permission from a male relative. She ‘had’ to travel to Jordan to obtain written permission from a seven year old.

Another woman complained, “I feel betrayed by Britain. I came to this country to get away from all this but the situation is worse here than in my country of origin”. Betrayed by Britain! Not her family or community or faith.

Apparently “many women wrongly that think these informal tribunals are real courts and submit to their rulings accordingly.”

And “Many women have described how they are discouraged from having a civil as well as an Islamic marriage. This gives rise to grave problems, especially when, as often happens, a husband subsequently divorces his wife, leaving her with no civil [marriage / divorce] rights.”

(note: I am not blaming the women, I am suggesting we need to change their beliefs.)

There is a Private Members Bill slowly making its way through Parliament that sort-of attempts to deal with the problem of sex discrimination (sort of because it doesn’t ban discrimination, it just means the person can seek to overturn the ruling, normally binding, on the grounds of sex discrimination):
Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill [HL] 2012-13
http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/arbitrationandmediationservicesequality.html

9. Man On Clapham Omnibus

I’ve come across cases where women have burnt themselves to death from shame in these cultures.The idea that women willingly do anything by their own volition is more than a little far fetched. Changing the culture will inevitably be regarded racism.

10. the a&e charge nurse

[9] ‘The idea that women willingly do anything by their own volition is more than a little far fetched’ – that seems to be one of the key messages in the Panorama film mentioned in the OP.
Here is the full program
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rxfjt/Panorama_Secrets_of_Britains_Sharia_Councils/

Are women allowed to preside over sharia hearings?

I honestly don’t care.

Hear hear comments 8 and 10. The panorama doc changed my view on this. The fundamental problem is that women are trapped by their own beliefs that they need the approval of and meet the sometimes farcical requirements of these tribunals.

If we ban these tribunals then these women will be trapped with zero hope at all (given their beliefs) of escaping abusive marriages. The best thing we can do for the time being is to more tightly regulate these tribunals to within an inch of their beards, but not so much that they no longer seem Islamically valid in the eyes of the women who think they need their approval.

Thanks for taking the time to tell us you don’t care, Chris.

“The idea that [Muslim] women willingly do anything by their own volition is more than a little far fetched”

ORIENTALISM KLAXON!

If someone believes that in order to go to heaven, they need to follow a bunch of stupid rules laid down by some idiots, then as long as those rules do not contravene the law (which the examples being cited here don’t), then it’s wrong to prevent them from doing so.

It’s also horrifically patronising to presume that Muslim women who follow the tenets of their religion are doing so Because Oppressed And Need Freeing By Brave While Liberals. At least, unless you apply the same “they can’t really mean it” principle to a monk’s decision to forgo material comfort in favour of spiritual reward, a priest’s decision to forgo marriage in favour of spiritual reward, or an Orthodox Jew’s decision to forgo crustaceans in favour of spiritual reward.

16. the a&e charge nurse

[15] ‘which the examples being cited here don’t’

LIBERAL SELF LOATHING ALERT – beating your wife IS against the law although the quran says ‘If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them’.

Of course somebody will come along and say that such vague passages do not promote violence against women because these words can mean all things to all people, or perhaps they might quote a violent passage from a religion not actually being discussed (i.e. the whataboutery manoeuvre).

I agree that it is not necessarily the job of ‘brave white liberals’ to rescue women from such chauvinistic traditions – the job of brave white liberals is to collectively wring their hands despite concluding that such a belief system is doomed to perpetuate the role of women as second class citizens.

As Bill Maher says during a burqa fashion show – ‘you’ll be proud to walk 5 steps behind your husband in this ensemble that screams islamofashion’.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIpdC0o3mdM

Sure, but telling her to return to violent husband is arguably more harmful than telling her to avoid shellfish.

18. Baton Rouge

Reactionary garbage. If you believe in religious freedom then people must have the right to practice their religion as long as they remain within the law. The thing about democracy is you are allowed to believe what you like.

I have thought long and hard about it, and I still am not sure what to think. I can see the value of both sides’ arguments. Here is why I cannot decide on what to think about it:

On the one hand, freedom to believe and practise religious stuff that does not harm others is a hallmark of a free society, and we need to accept that believing in religion means that religious people make all sorts of sacrifices, ranging from not doing sports or eating ice cream on sundays, extreme and unhealthy fasting, not having pre-marital sex, listening to boring sermons in cold buildings on hard benches, wearing clothes that makes making friends and social integration less likely, etc. It is also somewhat patronising to say that people who act like this cannot decide for themselves or do not know for themselves what is good. If you think that, you could justify all sorts of governmental intervention in people’s private decision making which most people would find horrific.

On the other hand, I believe that upbringing and education make people believe these religious and tribalistic things, and I do not believe that they serve the greater good. I find it saddening and depressing that people have these ideas and would like to change it. That is an idealistic position. I would like to live in a secular society in which nobody is religious. I realise, though, that the nature of democracy is accepting that not everyone has my ideal conception of society, and accepting that is, for me, part of being liberal. Yet, I also realise that, for example, democracy would end when everybody starts voting for a dictator, and I wonder if accepting these types of arbitration councils contributes to a slow eroding of the acceptance of one law, a law that is supposed to be fair, and if you do not fair you can engage in politics to try to get it modified through a democratic process.

A&ECN: I genuinely couldn’t care less about the suffering of people who choose to suffer for their religious beliefs (in the sense I’ve outlined above, not in the sense of external persecution). Either they’re wrong, in which case haha, they’re stupid and we win, or they’re right, in which case they’ll see us in Hell from Heaven. In either case, it’s completely and utterly not the rest of the world’s business.

Broadly agree with other John here – although as far as the last paragraph goes, the concept of legally binding voluntarily arbitration has been part of the law for as long as England has had recognisable law. Not just the Beth Din, but plenty of secular arbitration arrangements.

This is also why I took exception to Ben’s description of these not-courts as ‘courts’ – the whole point of them is to continue, within the law, a tradition that has always been an important part of the law. The only thing that’s changed is that the arbitrators in this case follow a different Abrahamic religion.

@Ian

“I look forward to reading the accompanying article condemning the use of the Beth Din and calling for it to be “harder for them to indulge their fantasies” as well”

So do I – they can also go.

Scrap all the Kangaroo courts and the blatant attempts to introduce parallel legal systems which can only lead to utter madness. For evidence of this, one only has to look at countries where such religious courts are indulged such as India, Pakistan, Iran, etc, etc, etc.

We only need the One Law and it is that which is determined by our democratically elected representatives under which we all are all equal – it is, after all, the British way.

Anyone who agrees should sign this petition:

http://onelawforallpetition.com/onelaw/onela300.php?nr=40155035

@21

You forget, there’s already one law for the rich, another for the rest of us.

The idea that people can settle disputes through arbitration or following their own mutually chosen “rules” is a good idea, when the law itself leaves scope for that.

On the other hand it is not right that principles of fairness (in this case in family and gender matters) that society has taken generations to evolve, sometimes at considerable human cost, should be ignored and thereby undermined, by any section of society.

If you have people living on the same street who have different ideas of what is fair, you are going to have trouble sooner or later.

It is also a grave problem that Muslim Arbitration Tribunals (MAT) and Sharia Councils misrepresent what they do and mislead the ignorant and weak.

The UK Muslim Arbitration Tribunal illustrates the front page of its website with a judges gavel and a photo of the Lord Chief Justice. http://www.matribunal.com/

On the other hand they also say:

“A trial in a court necessarily involves a winner and a loser… This can be a disadvantage where there are reasons to maintain a good relationship after the verdict. An obvious example may include divorce and child custody cases… Court hearings impose a solution on the parties without their agreement and which may need to be enforced. If the parties are able to negotiate a resolution between them, to which they both agree, this should be less of a predicament.”

Sounds like mediation but what has a gavel got to do with it? And why a picture of the Lord Chief Justice. And, how on earth can anyone “mediate” Islam’s strict rules for child custody?

24. Baton Rouge

#21 THe British Way is to allow people to believe in what they like and pursue those beliefs as long as they don’t infringe the wider law. Companies, unions, clubs they all have their own internal jurisdictions. It’s part of the fabric of life. YOu are just trying to bend people to your intolerant view which makes you a bigger danger to democracy than any sharia court.

Are you implying your opposition to lead to a complete ban on such courts?

I don’t think you are. These courts are dominated by bearded men with a history of religious conservatism. They are self-styled leaders of their community. Community leadership is never democratic and such leadership tends to voice the mainstream sentiment prevailing within that group. The problem here is that despite the ‘muazzin’ and ‘imam’ calling for a unified ‘umma’ or muslim world, beyond lining up in rows in answering the call for prayer, there is great cultural diversity within Islam. UK Muslim population comprises or a major Pakistani and Bangladeshi contingent. Traditionally, the minority had been made up of Somali, Yemeni, Kurdish and various Arabic speaking groups. However, over the last twenty years, there has been a great swelling in mainstream middle-eastern Muslims alongside a strong representation from the African diaspora. This is a vast and complicated pool of people who are united together by the notion of religion and religious custom alone. Issues such as female circumcision is more specific to the African communities whereas issues such as forced marriages appears to mainly prevalent within the South Asian Muslims. This issue of diversity is largely swept under the carpet for the sake of Muslim unity.

Essentially, the Sharia Council is dealing with cases, issues and cultures that are distinct in its own right but the politics of unity makes it well nigh impossible to deliberate on by a small group of individuals representing a small interest group. Sadly, the imposition of Sharia is here to stay. I don’t personally envisage any political party wanting to abolish such a body. Politically, it would be seen as insensitive and an election suicide.

Perhaps what is needed is
1. A regulatory body who would oversee judgements where there is a clear difference in opinion.
2. More women need to be involved with the Council with an absolutely minimum of 50% representation.
3. Cases involving abuse and marital issues including forced marriage need to be deliberated over by a panel rather than individuals.
4. Minutes and deliberations of all cases need to be published and available for scrutiny.

There is a moderate amount of disdain for the notion of Shariya amongst secular Muslims. This is because Sharia itself is seen as an artificial imposition based on the four codified ‘madhabs’ or schools of thought that ceased to be innovated from 10th century onwards. If the secular Muslims could be motivated to be involved with the Sharia body and be formally involved in the deliberations, I think we could see a real improvement in operation.

The Panorama programme you referred to was an eye opener. Carlotte Proudman and a number of other commentators have shed light on a very important issue. Incidentally, we featured an interview with Barrister Proudman within our portal after she appeared in the Inside Sharia Courts documentary. One of the problems of talking about Sharia courts is that it is frequently used by the political right and far right as a further justification of prejudice, racism and Islamophonia. The allusion to severe capital punishment that you have implied in the very first paragraph of your article when talking about the triumvirate who rule the Council takes any potential discussion to the inevitable context of existence and relevance. The discussion should actually be about how comforting such councils could be for the vulnerable women and families if they were operated by sensitive and moderate individuals less focused on the idea of ‘the Khilaafah’.

Vulnerable women often find the mainstream UK Justice System to be baffling and perhaps, culturally alien; the language barrier can be hard to overcome. I realise that the second part of my previous sentence leads to a different discussion altogether, but let us not get into multi-culturalism here. If those women who are presently being served by the Sharia Courts could be encouraged to seek justice and advice through the traditional means we would effectively abolish the scope of Sharia in UK. More women from ethnic minorities who take an interest in the Justice system could well see to the future eradication or at least a degree of irrelevance for such bodies. This is not an overnight solution. The monetary implication is that we do need more funding for the bodies that encourage English language learning amongst women of ethnic minorities. We need a more culturally sensitive legal system, judiciary as well as the most important of all, political will to effectively eradicate the need for Sharia courts.

Jason: the bit where you put India, which is a broadly secular democratic state that handles multiculturalism quite well all things considered (yes, I’m aware of bastards like Modi), into the same bracket as borderline theocracies like Pakistan and actual theocracies like Iran is the bit where you undermine your case horrifically.

TheLawMap: if it is the case that women who are not particularly inclined towards strict interpretations of sharia are choosing sharia courts because they don’t trust secular courts, then yes, that is a problem which could be usefully addressed in various constructive ways.

Well, why should I care? It’s nothing.

28. Philip Smeeton

MUSLIMS THROW THEIR WOMEN OVERBOARD FROM OVERCROWDED REFUGEE BOATS ENROUTE TO EUROPE

The opposite of the West is Islam. The opposite of humanity is the sharia. Remember the Titanic? When the ship was going down, the men put the women and children on the lifeboats and died like men. Here the Muslims throw the women overboard.

The idea that people can settle disputes through arbitration or following their own mutually chosen “rules” is a good idea, when the law itself leaves scope for that.

On the other hand it is not right that principles of fairness (in this case in family and gender matters) that society has taken generations to evolve, sometimes involving considerable struggle, should be ignored and thereby undermined, by any section of society.

If you have people living on the same street who have different ideas of what is fair, you are going to have trouble sooner or later.

It is also a grave problem that Muslim Arbitration Tribunals (MAT) and Sharia Councils misrepresent what they do and mislead the ignorant and weak.

The UK Muslim Arbitration Tribunal illustrates the front page of its website with a judges gavel and a photo of the Lord Chief Justice.

On the other hand they also say:

“A trial in a court necessarily involves a winner and a loser… This can be a disadvantage where there are reasons to maintain a good relationship after the verdict. An obvious example may include divorce and child custody cases… Court hearings impose a solution on the parties without their agreement and which may need to be enforced. If the parties are able to negotiate a resolution between them, to which they both agree, this should be less of a predicament.”

Sounds like mediation but what has a gavel got to do with it? And why a picture of the Lord Chief Justice. And, how on earth can anyone “mediate” Islam’s strict rules for child custody?

30. the a&e charge nurse

[23] ‘The British Way is to allow people to believe in what they like and pursue those beliefs as long as they don’t infringe the wider law’ – it can be more complicated than that.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/pentecostal-pastors-are-telling-hiv-positive-patients-to-rely-on-god-instead-of-taking-medication-8772400.html

No laws broken but the invocation of an all powerful super-entity can be used to frighten people into all manner of things.

I’m reminded of those lunchtime conversations I used to have back in the early 1970s with my Indian colleague and friend. He predicted then that Islamic countries would find it difficult to make peaceful transitions to multi-party democracies, basically because the Islamic religion is incompatible with pluralism. The central political prescription of Islam is authoritarian, theocratic government by a Universal Caliphate. Apostasy is an offence punishable by death.

Compare current news with this news report from a year ago:

At least 16 people have been wounded after Muslims attacked a church and Christian homes in a village near the Egyptian capital, Cairo, officials say.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19089474

Last week, the Football Association fined two members of the Ince family following misconduct at a football game in Preston. Two private citizens, Inces, paid fines to a private organisation. The FA is participant but subservient to FIFA which mangles international football rules and organisation.

As john b has argued in this thread, private civil arbitration is an option under UK law. Sometimes, with regard to FIFA or the IOC, civil arbitration crosses national boundaries. Walking out of civil arbitration and seeking national arbitration *may* be a realistic option; and for any participant in a religious tribunal in the UK, it is a legal choice.

Ben Six’s OP proposes that Muslims should be denied the right to use private civil arbitration in the UK. Muslims in general, or those who subscribe to a particularly defined concept of sharia, or those who adopt a revisited sharia?

It is proposed that Muslims are less able to self manage than football clubs.

Ben Six correctly notes misogyny and tolerance of domestic violence within Muslim communities. Ben Six assumes a status quo of bigotry and contempt. Ben Six reckons that community values do not change.

The article and forum mentions “vulnerable women”. Vulnerable adults are those are people who have mental issues (e.g., mental illness, very low cognitive skills, or victims of substance abuse). This is certainly not true for most of the women this discussion is about. Sure, there might be low skilled immigrants with poor language skills, but I could imagine that these courts often use other than English languages as well.

I would like to hear a good argument why people should not be able to choose a ruling that is clearly not in their own material interest, but that satisfies their deeply held religious views, which I assume makes them very content. If there is such an argument, could such an argument also be used to restrict other religious practice, and if so, is such restriction of freedom justified?

While the basic problem is that many women are trapped by their own beliefs, and so to outright ban these councils (rather than better and well enforced regulation) would leave them with no hope at all of escaping abusive marriages, we must consider another set of women.

While the panorama doc opened my eyes to the above group, they also showed women who did not want to use these tribunals, but felt under immense pressure from their communities to attend and submit to their rulings and forgo upholding their rights and those of their children in civil courts. If they resist, then much like open ex-Muslims, they risk ostracism, perhaps difficulty remarrying in their community and other things I can’t think of.

We are probably mostly agreed that religious freedom doesn’t extend to pressuring others to comply with one’s religious requirements. So unless or until that pressure becomes much less of a problem, protecting this group of women might be impossible without an outright ban.

It would be good if there was some research into the relative proportions of these two sets of women. It might take some quite ingenious regulation to protect the interests of both.

35. the a&e charge nurse

[31] can you really see no difference between a professional body dealing with a work related conduct issue and sharia law?
Lets imagine the FA adopted the view that the testimony in court of a black man was half that of a white mans – would you be so sanguine then?

Lets remind ourselves of a few sharia principles.
The testimony of a woman in court only has half the weight of a man’s.

A man may unilaterally divorce his wife and may only need to ‘declare’ the divorce three times in private to do so. By contrast, a woman faces more stringent conditions, perhaps including permission from her husband, payment of money and an application to a Sharia ‘court’. Moreover, a divorced man is entitled to re-marry. A divorced woman is not.

Regarding inheritance law, men and boys are entitled to receive twice what women and girls receive.

In cases of rape, four male witnesses are required by a sharia court to substantiate a woman’s complaint – no female evidence is admissible in the case of rape in a sharia court.

Upon divorce, custody of any children passes automatically to the man once the children have attained the age of seven and the mother has no rights of access.

All jurists, court officials and judges must be muslims; non-muslims are not allowed to take part in any way, shape or form, and no woman may become a judge.

Now maybe somebody involved in these rulings will make counter claims and explain why such allegations about sharia are false, but if they are true why should hand wringing liberals be so keen to perpetuate them, eh?

To commenter 34: I think many people do not know the details about these councils (including myself). Are you saying that things such as rape could, in principle, be going to these tribunals, rather than handled by police/court? Is it not the case that these councils can only handle certain types of legal cases? It would be nice if there is an article somewhere explaining the councils. It also seems to be the case that these councils themselves do not seem to do a good job explaining this to the public.

@35

Is it not the case that these councils can only handle certain types of legal cases?

Check his link from 7

The tribunals should only be deciding civil disputes but two years ago the think-tank Civitas claimed sharia courts, some 85 of which operate in Birmingham, London, Bradford and Manchester, had crossed the proper limits of their jurisdiction and were regularly giving illegal advice on marriage and divorce.

Cox said they are increasingly ruling on family and criminal cases, including child custody and domestic violence. Jurisdiction “creep” had caused considerable suffering among women compelled to return to abusive husbands, or to give up children and property.

38. the a&e charge nurse

[35] ‘orientalism’ (see 15), or plain, old fashioned chauvenism?
http://legalpigeon.blog.co.uk/2011/06/23/why-women-s-testimony-is-only-worth-the-weight-of-a-man-s-in-sharia-law-11363790/

As I say – imagine any other legal forum where the weight of one persons testimony was worth only half that of another because of skin colour, age, height, food preference or any other arbitrary discriminator you can think of.

I simply do not understand why some liberals start shitting themselves when such injustices are called for what they are, nor do I understand why so many are in denial about the cultural pressures used to maintain such a dodgy ideology.

at 37: “I simply do not understand why some liberals start shitting themselves when such injustices are called for what they are, nor do I understand why so many are in denial about the cultural pressures used to maintain such a dodgy ideology.”

It depends on how you define “liberal”! If you mean people who think that a *liberal* society is one in which people are free to practise their religion, then you will see that many liberals rightly will defend people’s right to live by standards non-religious people find absurd, including following fast, not relying on modern medicine and contraceptives, and adhering to sharia, etc. Religions typically have strict rules for gender roles, not just in islam, but also in xtianity and judeaism.

40. the a&e charge nurse

[38] ‘If you mean people who think that a *liberal* society is one in which people are free to practise their religion, then you will see that many liberals rightly will defend people’s right to live by standards non-religious people find absurd, including following fast, not relying on modern medicine and contraceptives, and adhering to sharia, etc’ – ah, the classic bind for liberals – defending the right of religious groups to get away with all manner of oppressive practices providing their deeds are wrapped in the correct sort of religious mumbo jumbo.

As the Hitch was fond of saying it usually takes religion to make good people do bad things.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQcGXBo8HP8

The Beth Din will only handle a divorce where there is also a civil divorce and takes great care not to issue the paperwork before the civil divorce is absolute.

Orthodox synagogues will not marry a couple one of whom has a civil but not a religious divorce – and that is their good right.

The Beth Din does not adjudge property rights or disputes about children.

Sharia courts please copy.

We would do well to require all marriages to be before the Registrar then the religious bodies could carry out – or refuse – a religious ceremony as they saw fit. It works in France.

As for the gender-discriminatory Islamic rules about inheritance: let us be clear that if a Muslim testator leaves a bigger share to a son than to a daughter then – subject to the Family Provision Act – that is his right too. The law of intestate succession is and must remain non-discriminatory.

The same applies if a testator cuts out a son or daughter who marries someone of the “wrong” religion, race, gender or nationality – or someone whom the testator just does not like!

43. Churm Rincewind

John B has it right, consistently.

Under the Arbitration Act 1996 (or the Arbitration Scotland Act 2010) parties in dispute can submit their dispute to religious court and to accept and be bound by its ruling. Parties can appoint absolutely anyone they like as an arbitrator, and if it happens to be a religious tribunal so be it, though what these tribunals cannot do is to contravene or over-rule the jurisdiction of the secular courts.

So it really is no use for BenSix to argue (@6) against Sharia judgements (because he often doesn’t like their conclusions) while supporting Batei Din tribunals (because he’s generally supportive of their views).

Either UK citizens have the right freely to submit themselves to independent arbitration, or they don’t (provided there is no inconsistency with UK law).

44. the a&e charge nurse

[42] ‘So it really is no use for BenSix to argue (@6) against Sharia judgements (because he often doesn’t like their conclusions)’ – its not just BenSix – other commentators believe sharia negates human rights; the only question to be answered is whether that matters and whether human rights apply to women (from 43:00 onwards)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTYrjFE6Rcg

Maybe you need to think a little more about how, or why some parties might enter this form of arbitration – freely, may not be a word that fits the bill in all cases.

Churm Rincewind -

So it really is no use for BenSix to argue (@6) against Sharia judgements (because he often doesn’t like their conclusions) while supporting Batei Din tribunals (because he’s generally supportive of their views).

I did not say I supported them – I said I did not see a reason to be so troubled by them. There’s a difference.

46. Churm Rincewind

@ 43 (A&E Charge Nurse) “it’s not just BenSix – other commentators believe sharia negates human rights; the only question to be answered is whether that matters and whether human rights apply to women.

Er, no that’s not the “only question”. Indeed, it’s not a question at all – the situation is straightforward. The UK passed the Human Rights Act in 1998 and, as I’ve pointed out previously, UK secular law cannot be superseded by religious law. So whether or not Sharia law in specific instances “negates human rights” is irrelevant as far as the UK is concerned. Sharia law is subservient to UK law and in the case of dispute is disregarded to the extent that there’s any conflict. Under UK law it’s impossible for human rights to be set aside. End of story.

@ 44 (BenSix): I take your point. However, I still think that my basic question still obtains – i.e. to what extent should UK law accommodate the religious concerns of its citizens? Is this a question of pragmatism or principle?

If they resist, then much like open ex-Muslims, they risk ostracism, perhaps difficulty remarrying in their community and other things I can’t think of.

Well, yes.

In general, if you’re a member of a faith-based organisation and you don’t share its faith any more, your options consist of going along with it because you don’t want to lose the community benefits you would otherwise lose, leaving, or trying to change its faith.

Changing the law to say that the community had to keep on liking you despite you rejecting its faith-based values would be a bit weird.

48. the a&e charge nurse

[45] ‘Sharia law is subservient to UK law’ – in principle, but the reality of what happens to some women as a result of sharia may be rather different.

Of course such women may be free to reject their culture, just as they are free to take any grievance to a secular court if they disagree with what men determine at a sharia hearing – assuming they understand principles about which forum holds ultimate power.

Even so, in most spheres there is always a gap between the rhetoric and the reality and the extent of this gap is significant enough to regard these hearings as somewhat different to other forms of arbitration (because of the cultural baggage underpinning their use).

Not sure banning would help; it won’t mean the women suddenly believe they don’t need a sharia ruling on this or that.

So do you oppose the Beit Din too?

Tilting at windmills and chasing shadows.


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