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Saturday, July 04, 2009

UK: Report condemns "Sharia courts"

From the Solicitor's Journal:

30 June 2009

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) and an estimated 85 "Sharia courts" have been condemned in a report for think-tank Civitas for issuing rulings which are contrary to "UK legal norms and human rights legislation."

In a report on Sharia law, Denis MacEoin, former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic studies at Newcastle University, said: “The fact that so many Sharia rulings in Britain relate to cases concerning divorce and custody of children is of particular concern, as women are not equal in Sharia law and Sharia contains no specific commitment to the best interests of the child that is fundamental to family law in the UK.”

David Green, director of Civitas, said Sharia courts, including the MAT, should be excluded from recognition under the Arbitration Act 1996.

“The reality is that for many Muslims, Sharia courts are in practice part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation, backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat,” Green said, in an introduction to the book.

“The underlying problem is that Sharia law reflects male-dominated Asian and Arabic cultures. It cannot therefore be accepted as a legally valid basis even for settling private disagreements in a country like ours, where our law embodies the equal legal status of everyone, regardless of race, gender or religion. 
Our system is based on moral and legal equality or it is nothing.”

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