Sharia Courts Do Not Recognise the Equality of Sexes Before the Law... This Cannot be Permitted in the UK

Sharia Courts Do Not Recognise the Equality of Sexes Before the Law... This Must End

 

Sharia Courts Do Not Recognise the Equality of Sexes Before the Law... This Cannot be Permitted in the UK

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Sharia Courts Do Not Recognise the Equality of Sexes Before the Law... This Cannot be Permitted in the UK

Sharia law, the Islamic legal system, is estimated to be operating in 30 established councils across the UK often referred to as Sharia "courts". These "courts" primarily settle marriage and family disputes, but have been criticised for discriminating against women.

The Government has recently launched an independent review into sharia law in the UK having acknowledged that “there is evidence some sharia councils may be working in a discriminatory and unacceptable way, seeking to legitimise forced marriage and issuing divorces that are unfair to women."

That sharia law is incompatible with UK law should be obvious - the European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that "sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy, as set forth in the Convention." Under sharia law

Polygamy is permitted Q 4:3
A woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. Q 2:282
Women inherit half as much as men. Q 4:11
A man may beat his wife. Q 4:34

The Government aims "to explore whether, and to what extent, the application of sharia law may be incompatible with the law in England and Wales."

The Government's review of sharia law in the UK is commendable and a welcome investigation into a potentially deeply discriminatory practice.

However, the independent review is now being criticised by multiple campaign groups and human rights activists including the “Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain” and “End Violence Against Women Coalition, UK”, who have written an open letter to the Home Office. Whilst agreeing that the review is in principle a good thing, the letter is heavily critical of many aspects of how it is being conducted.

The letter criticises the fact that the review appears to rule out considering whether sharia councils should be allowed to exist at all. Instead the inquiry seeks to draw attention to best practice thereby apparently endorsing the creation of a parallel legal system.

Furthermore, so the letter argues, the review panel seems more set-up for a theological discussion, than judicial review. The chair is a theologian and two of the four other members of the panel are Islamic scholars. One may wonder whether people who legitimate and justify sharia law are really the best people to impartially investigate human rights issues associated with sharia law and whether it is compatible with UK law.

The letter states: "Our fear is that in these circumstances, many vulnerable women simply will not want to give their testimony before theologians who legitimate and justify the very idea of sharia laws on the grounds that it is integral to their 'Muslim identity'. Indeed, the panel is set up much like the sharia 'courts' themselves."

In short, the incompatibility between UK law and sharia law is evident to all who take care to note. There are legitimate fears that because of the bias of those carrying out the review into sharia councils across the UK, and because of the limited scope of the review, this fact will be glossed over.

We call upon the Government to implement a robust, truly independent review of sharia councils comprised of human rights legal experts.

Find the open letter here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/pragna-patel-gita-sahgal/whitewashing-sharia-councils-in-uk

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/independent-review-into-sharia-law-launched

http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/islam/independent-review-into-sharia-law-launched

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36587665

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Sharia Courts Must Be Comprehensively Investigated

For the Attention of Prime Minister, Theresa May

Dear Theresa May PM,

As Home Secretary, you launched an independent review into sharia law and I applaud you for this move. It is important, however, that this review be extensive in scope and conducted by an appropriate, impartial authority.

Sharia law is well known to be incompatible with UK law especially in regard to its treatment of women where husbands may beat their wives (Q 4:34), women inherit half as much as men (Q 4:11) and a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man (Q 2:282) Furthermore, as recognised by the European Court of Human Rights “sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy, as set forth in the Convention”.

Recently however, an open letter was sent to you signed by hundreds of women’s human rights organisations and campaigners - including the “Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain” and “End Violence Against Women Coalition, UK” - in which they laid out their concerns about this review. Some major concerns mentioned by these groups include

• the ‘impartiality’ of the review panel – several of whom are Islamic scholars - questioning whether they are the most appropriate people to be conducting such an enquiry,
• the apparently accepted idea that a theological approach is the most appropriate for this enquiry, rather than a human rights approach
• and the limited scope of the review which will apparently not investigate whether these councils should be permitted in the first instance.

In agreement with the conclusion of the open letter, I call on the Government

1. to appoint a judge to head the inquiry,
2. to expand the terms of reference to ensure that the inquiry investigates the full range of human rights concerns raised by these sharia courts,
3. to "drop the inappropriate theological approach, and appoint experts with knowledge of women's human rights."

If sharia courts involve setting up a parallel legal system to UK law, they cannot continue.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Sharia Courts Do Not Recognise the Equality of Sexes Before the Law... This Cannot be Permitted in the UK

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010,000
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9,940 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.