Sharia courts in UK face Government inquiry over treatment of women

This is the headline in the Independent in response to the Home Office’s announcement.

Professor Siddiqui has been appoint the chair of the inquiry and she states:

It’s a privilege to be asked to chair such an important piece of work…At a time when there is so much focus on Muslims in the UK, this will be a wide ranging, timely and thorough review as to what actually happens in Sharia councils.

This announcement may be  welcome but it does not go far enough and may be nothing more that a paper exercise which will fail to address any of the issues present in the sharia system within the UK.  The review although flawed in its very nature was largely due to the pressure of One Law For All.

They presented a letter to the Prime Minister on  the 9th of December 2015 and their statement can be read in full following the link below.

395 signatories call to dismantle parallel legal systems

Here is an excerpt of their statement:

Women’s rights and secular organisations urge the new government to take concerted measures to stop the development of parallel legal systems and to facilitate full and proper access to justice for all citizens and to one secular law for all.

For decades, successive governments have appeased undemocratic religious power brokers in minority communities who have sought

Western History Class 2050

Western History Class 2050

to gain power through multicultural and now multi-faith social policies. These policies have led to the homogenisation of minority communities including the ‘Muslim community’ and have recognised and legitimated ‘non-violent’ Islamists as ‘community representatives’, outsourcing legal justice to what are in effect kangaroo courts that deliver highly discriminatory and second-rate forms of ‘justice.’ Over the years, we have witnessed with increasing alarm the influence of ‘Sharia courts’ over the lives of citizens of Muslim heritage.  

In my pieces on sharia and the UK legal system I argue in support of the position of One Law for All that sharia should be banned completely as it is a threat to the very fabric of our society.  This was a perfect opportunity to take a serious look at sharia and access if it is compatible with British law (which I believe it can never be).

The government announcement is found here: Independent review into sharia law launched 

This could have been a significant step forward yet it seems it is going to be nothing more than a review done by Muslim scholars that are intimately involved in sharia councils themselves.

It is very similar to the fact of antisemitism within the Labour party (especially among Muslim members).   Douglas Murray discusses this in his article: Hmm, Where Could All This Hatred Be Coming From? Wrong-Headed Cures for the Prejudice Problem

  • “Anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article — if they are honest with themselves — will know instantly what I am referring to. It’s our dirty little secret.” — Mehdi Hassan, The New Statesman.
  • Is it not possible that anti-Muslim feeling, if it exists, might be in part propelled by the discovery that anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice (against women and gay people to name just two other “minorities”) are also “routine and commonplace” among British Muslims?

Britain: Labour Party Finds Itself Innocent! 

  • The findings of this inquiry have now been published and amazingly the Labour party has found itself innocent.
  • In British left-wing politics, you cannot even clear yourself of accusations of anti-Semitism without having an outbreak of it right there and then.

It is worth reading both articles by Murray and the question is whether we can expect more of the same from the `government’ (or should we say Muslim)  review of sharia.

Campaigners urge government to fully and impartially investigate Sharia bodies

One Law for All does not believe that this review is fit for purpose.  I am including the full press release here and I agree that the government need to rethink and reconstitute this review into an investigation.  But the question is whether May has the courage to do so or will she continue to bottle it, after alldoesshenotbelieve sharia has a positive role to play in the British legal system?  If we get a BREXIT Prime Minister will it make a difference?

4 July 2016

Today, an unprecedented number of women’s rights campaigners and organisations from Britain and internationally have submitted a letter to the Home Secretary raising serious concerns about the government’s ‘independent review’ into Sharia courts in Britain. The letter states that the limited scope of inquiry and its inappropriate theological approach will do nothing to address the discriminatory effect and intent of the courts on private and family matters: areas where, arguably, the greatest human rights violations of minority women in the UK take place.

Rather than taking a human rights approach, the government has constituted a panel and terms of reference more suited to a discussion in theology than one which serves the needs of victims whose human rights are violated.  By making these religious appointments, the government has lost a vital opportunity to examine the discriminatory nature of not only Sharia bodies but all forms of religious arbitration fora including the Batei Din.

The panel chair, Mona Siddiqui, for example, is herself a theologian. One of the scholars, Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, is the joint secretary for Majlis Ulama-e-Shia, which sends delegations to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In his sermons, he has supported the death penalty in Islamic states, advised Muslims to go into government “and change the system” and says women dressed in “tight clothing” are “corrupted”. Another scholar, Qari Muhammad Asim, speaks of “men retain[ing] their wives in marriage” and sees women in relation to their male guardian: “Each women is someone’s mother, daughter, sister or wife”. He also trivialises violence against women by saying “women as well as men can be victims of domestic abuse”.

Both scholars advising the panel are on Imams Online. Khola Hasan, a judge at the Islamic Sharia Council, is a contributing editor to Imam Online. Clearly, Imams and Islamic scholars cannot investigate themselves.

“Women and Sharia Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK” by Elham Manea published in May 2016documents the harmful and even life threatening consequences for vulnerable minority women in matters pertaining to the family.  Testimonials gathered by campaigners highlight some of the emotional, mental and physical effects of the courts on women and children.

The women’s rights campaigners are calling on the Home Secretary to establish a thorough and impartial judge-led human rights investigation, which will fully examine arbitration in family matters and whether violations of human rights are condoned or even promoted by Sharia bodies. Some examples are: women’s testimony being worth half that of a man’s, marital rape, sexual violence and domestic abuse, the age of consent, guardianship, forced marriage, honour based violence, ritual abuse, child custody and child protection, polygamy, divorce, sexuality, inheritance, inter-religious relationships, female dress codes and abortion. Broader issues such as the treatment of religious minorities including minority sects in Islam and decisions pertaining to apostasy and blasphemy must also be examined to understand the full range of threats faced by people affected by religious laws, and indeed, by the State promoting these laws.

The law and not religion is the key basis for securing justice for all citizens. Campaigners urge the government to do the right thing and ensure that the same principles of human rights, equality before the law, duty of care, due diligence and the rule of law are applicable to all British citizens.

NOTES:

1. On Sharia Council and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.

2. Video footage of a 30 April conference on Sharia Law, Legal Pluralism and Access to Justice with author Elham Manea and other women’s rights campaigners.

3. Crowdfunding campaign to get a copy of Elham Manea’s book: “Women And Sharia Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism In The UK” into the hands of every Minister, MP and Peer.

4. For more information, please contact:

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
pragna@southallblacksisters.co.uk
020 8571 9595
@SBSisters

Gita Sahgal
Centre for Secular Space
gita@centreforsecularspace.org
079 7271 5090
@GitaSahgal

Gina Khan and Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
onelawforall@gmail.com
077 1916 6731
@GinaKhanUK
@MaryamNamazie

Originally posted 2016-05-27 20:58:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Rambler
Lived and worked in Muslim-majority countries for over 12 years while working in the international development sector as a senior director/manager. This included South East Asia, East, and West Africa (including the Horn of Africa), the Middle East and Afghanistan. Main interests in life is the study of Political Islam and how this has interacted with non-Islamic civilisations, especially Judeo-Christian civilisations, in history and currently.

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