Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sharia Law in UK Islamic Law has come to England

Sharia Law in UK
Islamic Law has come to England
Charl de Souza
August 13th 2011

In several London boroughs shocked passers-by can read posters attached to lampposts informing them they are entering a “Sharia Zone” where Islamic rules are enforced. The “No porn - No Prostitution” might sound like a good idea and help make these areas family friendly, but Sharia does not stop there. There are serious concerns, particularly from women’s groups, who are worried the Sharia courts’ decisions may be respected more in some communities than the British courts are, especially in the case of domestic abuse and divorce settlements for women.
In 2009 the think-tank Civitas The Institute for the Study of Civil Society estimated that here were eighty-five Sharia Islamic courts in Britain.
The acceptance of Sharia law in the UK has happened quietly with the general public unaware of the change happening in front of their eyes. It is this quiet acceptance of Sharia law that has led to the vigilante attitude of imposing “Sharia Zones” unilaterally on communities by Islamic groups.
Sharia Laws in Britain by Stealth:
Islamic law has actually been adopted in Britain officially. Sharia courts have been given powers by the Government to rule on Muslim civil cases. These cases include domestic violence, divorce and financial disputes. Five Sharia courts in the UK are backed by the British judicial system through the High Court. In the past British Sharia court rulings could only be enforced through voluntary acceptance among Muslims. These five courts are in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and Nuneaton. Glasgow and Edinburgh are next in line.
Using a clause in the Arbitration Act of 1996, these courts have been set up by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which runs the courts. Under the Arbitration Act, the Sharia law courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The of arbitration tribunals’ judgments are binding in law, provided that both parties agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

There have been concerns that the secretive system has excessive influence, especially in cases of domestic abuse, divorce issues and intimidating communities. The arbitrary and unilateral imposition of “Sharia Zones” shows that these fears are justified. Women especially have been terrorised by Sharia vigilantes.
These “Sharia Zones” ban a wide range of things that can be considered bad or at least negative, like drugs, prostitution, gambling, porn, alcohol and smoking, to the innocuous like music and concerts. As a result the Ministry of Justice launched an inquiry into the British Sharia courts. This inquiry was difficult to conduct as Muslim leaders refused to cooperate and closed ranks making the Sharia law courts appear secretive or even subversive. Not only is it bizarre having these Islamic Sharia courts in England imposing their will on communities being backed by the UK High Court, but also, and this makes this Islamic law issue dangerously weird, when the Government backed down. Scrapping the inquiry because Muslim courts refused to co-operate, sends a message to Islamic radicals that they are in control.
The Justice Minister’s abandonment of the Government’s inquiry into these secretive Sharia councils has raised fears that such radicals and extremist organisations like Islam4UK, will be able to continue intimidating their communities unchecked.  It was not a coincidence that Islamic extremists launched their campaign to announce “Sharia controlled zones” across Britain the same week the Ministry of Justice scrapped the inquiry into the increasing influence of Sharia courts.
In Parliament, the Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said that before last year’s general election his department acted to “commission an exploratory study of Sharia councils in England with respect to family law.” Mr Djanogly continued, “This identified a number of challenges to undertaking robust research in this area. The study was therefore limited and adds little to the evidence base. “The findings cannot be regarded as a representative assessment of the operation of Sharia councils. Following expert peer review of the draft report, the Ministry of Justice decided not to publish the findings.” The “challenges” the commission experienced was simply the Sharia courts refusing to co-operate.
Jewish Beth Din courts have long been operational in the UK for more than a hundred years, but the Jewish community do not try to impose their culture on the society as a whole. This is where the danger of the Sharia courts concern citizens, both non-Muslim and Muslim.
There is already a trend of subtle and in some cases even blatant intimidation and coercion that is imposed on individuals and their families. This is the real concern, especially the fact that women and girls have less value as human beings and as witnesses than men. Uneducated men who want to exert their dominance over women use these Sharia courts to legitimise domestic abuse.

Many Muslim women are trapped by their culture in abusive marriages, which teach their children, by example, that this behavior is normal, and so repeating this abusive attitude in the next generation. While Sharia does give some Muslim women a chance to escape from an abusive marriage; it does not give them equal status to the abusive man. The women are considered inferior to men as witnesses. Nor do they have equal status in divorce and custody of the children, and the courts do not deal with the husband’s abuse.


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