Friday, November 06, 2009

Equality under the law is abrogated by shari'a councils

From ‘Very Worried of Richmond Hill:

Islamic shari’a councils are now recognised as arbitration tribunals under the 1996 Arbitration Act, and are part of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure available to UK citizens. So far, at least five councils have been recognised as tribunals and moves are afoot to have scores more throughout the country.

The tribunals cover all disputes that come under civil law or family law but exclude criminal matters.

In the case of a civil dispute, the decision of the tribunal is recognised by the UK courts and, if it is a family matter, will be accepted as the basis of a UK court decision and in both cases, if necessary, enforced under UK law.

In the one case, the court is upholding the judgement of the shari’a tribunal; in the other, it is using it as the basis of its own decision and which it is very likely to accept as courts are generally reluctant to overturn a tribunal judgement.

The Arbitration Act simply requires that both parties make a prior agreement to submit their dispute to the tribunal and that the outcome does not break any UK law.

It would do an aggrieved party no good to appeal to a UK court that the shari’a ruling to which he or she had submitted was wrong or that he or she would have been treated differently in a UK court not acting on shari’a principles: unless it could be shown to be unreasonable and outrageously unfair it would be enforced. Thus, Islamic shari’a is propagated by UK law.

We have cause to be worried.

(1) Has anything changed?

Apologists for shari’a claim nothing has changed. A shari’a tribunal decision cannot be enforced if it breaks UK law. This view is out of touch with how things really work and what is going on today.

We have, for example, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s revelation in a BBC interview that the adoption of Islamic shari’a law in the UK is ‘unavoidable’. This gives a disturbing insight into the minds of some of our leaders.

Twisting the law to meet cultural requirements is not unknown. Lord Pearson asked this question in the House of Lords in June: “…. will Her Majesty’s Government take steps to ensure that resident Muslim men will no longer be allowed to commit bigamy by bringing in their second, third and fourth wives and all their children to enjoy the benefits of our welfare state?”

He was not given an answer.

And, most importantly, judges judge: they assess witnesses, weigh up the worth of arguments, and apply social criteria, interpretations and precedents as they believe they fit the facts of a case. There is plenty of scope for keeping to the letter of the law.

Recognition of shari’a tribunals introduces a new breed of judges with a mindset alien to this country and which provides ample evidence of its hostility both to western Christian and Enlightenment secular values.

(2) Unequal treatment of men and women

Under shari’a, men and women are not treated equally. In matters of inheritance, property division, divorce and the custody of children, shari’a law disadvantages women and they are considered inferior as witnesses: a man may easily divorce his wife whereas a woman must argue her case and undergo a lengthy legal process.

A Muslim woman seeking a divorce is subjected to an interview process aimed at keeping her married and she risks financial ruin by the obligation to return her dower.

Shari’a rules on child custody can be rigid and were described by judges in the House of Lords as ‘arbitrary and discriminatory’. In general, child custody reverts to the father at a preset age (seven for boys) no matter the circumstances or the behaviour of the father, and if a woman remarries she loses custody of her children.

If a wife refuses to agree to give the husband access to their children, even in cases of possible child abuse, the divorce is stalled until that issue is resolved.

A Family Court judge may find himself presented with an ‘agreement’ produced at a shari’a tribunal that gives custody of the children to the father which in normal circumstances the court would register and enforce. But how is he to tell if this is a truly mediated agreement or simply the woman’s resigned acquiescence in shari’a law which does not explicitly consider the interests of children?

Women inherit half what a man inherits. And, of course, a Muslim man can have up to four wives.

Under shari’a, a Muslim woman will get a decision from a tribunal far less favourable than she would get from a British court under the Crown.

Shari’a councils are entirely male: there are no female shari’a judges. Nearly a quarter of judges in UK courts are female and in magistrate courts it is half. The Islamic Shari’a Council is listed as a charity and people who seek a divorce pay a fee. For a man, it is £100; for women, it is £250 because (they say) it is more work to process a woman's application as her word has to be corroborated.

(3) Community pressures and exploitation of ignorance

Muslim women will be under enormous pressure to use shari’a tribunals rather than civil courts. If they don’t use a shari’a tribunal, they run the risk of being ostracised by their family and their community as bad Muslims or even as apostates.

This pressure already exists but giving any shari’a council recognition as a tribunal under the Arbitration Act massively increases it.

Many women may simply be ignorant of their rights, due to language or cultural barriers. Many of those dealt with by shari’a councils are from the most marginalised segments of society with little or no knowledge of their rights under English law.

This will be true of male and female workers, especially the poorly-educated and low-paid, who find themselves unfairly treated by a Muslim business owner, or of tenants in disagreement with a Muslim landlord.

The appearance of ‘officialness’ will give the uneducated and the vulnerable the impression that there is a parallel Muslim system of law in England which is the one that Muslims should use.

This is already being exploited. The home page of the website of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) goes out of its way to look official. It has a photograph of Lord Phillips when he was Lord Chief Justice in his wig and finery. A bold heading declares: ‘Lord Chief Justice endorses ADR (alternative dispute resolution) under Shariah Law’.

Underneath it has a picture of Lord Hunt, a government minister. The website emphasises that MAT rulings are binding under English law.

(4) The importance of civil and family law – what binds people together

Proponents of shari’a tribunals make the point that they are involved only in civil and family matters and are not involved in criminal cases, as if this somehow lessens the impact on society.

Family, marriage, children, inheritance, relations with neighbours, doing business, are the most important matters for most people. Very few of us are touched by the criminal courts, but civil and family matters touch us all.

By recognising shari’a councils as tribunals, the UK authorities are saying it is fine for some British citizens not to exercise certain rights, even if English law and tradition grants them those rights, and to accept deals that are worse than what they would get from other British courts with regular judges.

Rights are established for the good of society as a whole, and they are often achieved only after a long and hard struggle, so why should a particular group of people be allowed to ditch any of those rights against the wider interest of society?

Why should my next-door neighbour live by a different idea of what is ‘fair’ – for example, what is seen as fair in a default position on inheritance or the relative difficulties between men and women in the procuring of a divorce? Surely ‘what is considered fair’ is a universal that binds people together and gives them a sense of identity.

(5) Quick and cheap justice

A vital foundation for any society is a legal system that provides justice quickly at a reasonable cost. The breakdown of the legal system in parts of Pakistan is the underlying cause of the anarchy and strife that prevails there. In the UK, we do not have massive corruption but we seem to be well on the road to a system that is too expensive and takes too long.

It is claimed that an advantage of shari’a tribunals, and a good reason for having them, is that they take on some of the burden of solving disputes and relieve an overburdened courts system (this was the justification given in Canada for a similar proposal to recognise shari’a tribunals in family matters, but it was eventually rejected largely due to the protests of Muslim Canadian women). This theme crops up all the time. Shari’a tribunals are a way of helping people to resolve their differences in their own way without clogging up the higher courts: it is cheaper and quicker. Apparently, shari’a tribunal judges are not paid a fee.

It seems unlikely that the availability of an alternative justice system for Muslims would ease the burden to the degree that cost and efficiency issues are solved for everyone else who only has the regular court system to turn to.

If this is good solution, you might ask why we do not also have a parallel tribunal system for civil and family matters for Christians? Why not tribunal systems for Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and even one for atheists?

But the question we should really ask is why do we not have a system for all citizens that delivers timely justice at an acceptable price?

(6) Criminal matters

Notwithstanding the numerous statements that shari’a tribunals do not cover criminal matters, under the heading ‘Types of Cases that we deal with’, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal website lists:

Forced Marriages, Domestic Violence, Family Disputes, Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, Commercial and Debt Disputes, Inheritance Disputes, Mosque Disputes

In relation to domestic violence, it says:

“MAT is unable to deal with criminal offences as we do not have jurisdiction to try such matters in the UK.

“However where there are criminal charges such as assault within the context of domestic violence, the parties will be able ask MAT to assist in reaching reconciliation which is observed and approved by MAT as an independent organisation.

“The terms of such a reconciliation can then be passed by MAT on to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) though (sic) the local Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officers with a view to reconsidering the criminal charges. Note that the final decision to prosecute always remains with the CPS” (emphases added).

So, Muslim domestic violence cases are treated differently from those in the rest of the population!

Just imagine – the vicar can get involved: he can formally tell the police that the suspect is a regular church-goer, he attends every Sunday, and he really regrets what he has done. He has agreed to go on an anger management course and the vicar thinks he deserves a second chance. The policeman, who is also a Christian because it is a Christian area, agrees.

This is precisely what is going on in some Muslim areas. In incidents severe enough to be referred to the police, the Muslim men involved have been directed to take anger management courses, and the women to withdraw their complaints. This has caused considerable disquiet suggesting that the police are turning a blind eye to domestic violence in the name of community cohesion or cultural sensitivity.

(7) Support for barbaric laws and practices

Shari’a is a system of laws and a mindset which approves, inter alia:

(i) Death for apostasy
(ii) Amputation of limbs as punishment
(iii) Stoning to death for adultery
(iv) Belief that a woman’s evidence is worth less than a man’s
(v) Blood money
(vi) Polygamy

Recognition of shari’a in the UK – even of just those sections which do not conflict with UK law – bestows status and respectability to a system which produces these barbaric practices. They are not some distant echo of the past but a fact in many parts of the world today.

Faisal Siddiqi, a Pakistani-born barrister and the founder and chairman of MAT’s governing council, criticised the British media for its obsession with beheadings and other extreme punishments. He said: “They constitute only 10% of shari’a.”

What a relief.

For an insight into current thinking by some Muslims on the matter of death for apostasy, one might consider: Muslim chaplain at Harvard to be toying with idea of executing apostates? And Supreme Court dismisses plea against death sentence for blasphemy.

For current views on stoning for adultery, consider: Indonesia's Aceh to stone adulterers under Islamic law.

Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, says that stoning to death for adultery is acceptable in a country that chooses to have that as the law.

And for an explanation of why the evidence of a woman is worth less than that of a man (you may laugh or cry), see the Islamic Sharia Council.


The Government has allowed and is encouraging the establishment of a parallel legal system for Muslims on matters that affect all of us. It is wrong for the country and wrong for Muslims.

The official recognition of shari’a councils as arbitration tribunals is simply another mechanism by which Muslims are being segregated from the rest of the population: it is a further barrier to integration and reinforces the fragmentation of society. The UK authorities are undermining both the Christian font of jurisprudence and the Enlightenment values by which this has been developed. The British concept of justice has been forged over centuries, sometimes at great cost. It would be ironic if it were to return to primitive expressions of inequity and unfairness.

Please note: Cranmer will not be tolerant of any unjustified or unjustifiable expressions of intolerance towards any group of people. He would like to remind his readers and communicants that there are very many British Muslims indeed who abhor the notion of shari'a in the UK, and who seek to challenge the intolerance of the ascendant and increasingly-pervasive Wahhabi orthodoxy.


Blogger TreeSleeper said...

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6 November 2009 at 09:55  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Did you hear the BBC report on the shootings in Texas. They mentioned every possible cause EXCEPT the one that everyone knows full well is the real explanation ... a Muslim doing his 'sacred' duty.

Islam is a wicked and evil death cult - but the only person I hear articulating that is Nick Griffin. We should no sooner have Sharia courts than Scientology courts or Mafia tribunals.

I am torn as to whether I should be voting UKIP or BNP.

6 November 2009 at 10:08  
Blogger Dungeekin said...

Your Grace

Shariah law is, to the eye of any sane man, archaic and brutal, deameaning and barbaric.

Earlier this year I saw Anjem Choudhary interviewed on Sky News and propounding the necessity of Shariah in the UK. I was revolted by it.

We cannot let this happen. Islam may mean 'submission', but that does not mean we must.


6 November 2009 at 10:11  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

‘Recognition of shari’a tribunals introduces a new breed of judges with a mindset alien to this country and which provides ample evidence of its hostility both to western Christian and Enlightenment secular values.’

It is the secular values of the so-called Enlightenment that are hostile to Judaeo-Christianity. The Enlightenment secular values are imposed upon this country through EU Directives and imported into domestic law through regulations trumping Judaeo-Christian values. That is demonstrated by the stream of Christians apearing before Employment Tribunals.

It is this socialist government and its Left-liberal supporters that has repeatedly attacked Judaeo-Christianity and drove it out of the public square.

It is this socialist government that trashed Judaeo-Christianity by hoodwinking everyone on the basis of the Enlightement doctrine of ‘equality’ that created the necessary vacuum for every other false religion and ideology to compete for dominance in the public square.

Every other religion needed, when objectively viewed, the dominance of Judaeo-Christianity because, paradoxically, every other religion knew and was confident in its place and identity. Once the Left-liberals trashed Judaeo-Christianity the adherents of other religions had to look within themselves and construct a more aggressive identity because one or the other religions had to compete for and dominate the vacuum in the civil sphere.

Thanks to the Left-liberals society is now sub-dividing along tribal lines and social cohesion has been shattered.

Stupid socialists!

6 November 2009 at 10:31  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

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6 November 2009 at 10:36  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

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6 November 2009 at 10:50  
Anonymous philip walling said...

I went to our local Law Society annual dinner last night, invited by the current president who is a Muslim. His father who is the president of the central mosque and Islamic centre was asked to say Grace.
He took the opportunity to tell the 400 plus people assembled about the three things that we ought to remember: patience, tolerance and forgiveness. He reminded us that we are a multi-cultural society and should respect each other's faiths.
To be fair, at the end, he did briefly enjoin us to be thankful for the food we were about to eat.
Although one wouldn't expect humour in a Grace, one might have expected a lightness of touch in a homily, but it was all deadly serious, grave even. The president's speech was similarly serious, no jokes or levity.
Why so serious?
I don't know what to think about it all.
My instincts rebel against the pretence of us all believing in the same creed of tolerance.
There is nothing in Islam for me - it no more answers my spiritual longings than would a cargo cult and the deadpan lack of self-deprecation reminds me of the self-regarding Quakers I know. There would appear to be no place in Islam for paradox, which is where I believe truth lies: God coming as a baby and dying, broken by the world, on the Cross and yet all the while the Creator of the world, and so on and so on.
Why should I be 'tolerant' of something that disavows everything I hold dear and believes in worldly power and success as a reflection of the power that God will bestow on people who simply obey fairly arbitrary rules of living?

The only thing I can say is that it seems to me we would all get along a lot better if we in the West actually believed in Christianity rather than materialism. Most people in that room last night appeared uncomfortable when the old Muslim mentioned God. That's at the root of the problem. Our moral emptiness gives the Muslims to believe they are free to extend the Caliphate at the same time doing well out of our Western materialistic creed.

Also, all those Asians at the dinner have made fortunes over the last 25 years from property spivvery (in line with the rest of the economy) and when I asked one what he would do if property prices didn't come back up he replied "This is Britain; property always comes back. That's why we're here. The banks have lent so much money on property to people who are 'under water' at the moment that they can't afford to force sales to get them to repay it. The only way for the banks to get their money back is to stimulate inflation, so we'll be OK in the end."

6 November 2009 at 10:55  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

One of this country’s Supreme Courts, in Strasbourg, the European Court of Human Rights, has ruled that crucifixes will be barred in Italian schools.

That means should an atheist demand in this country a school removes its crucifixes – they will have to be removed.

The ruling applies to all those countries who are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights 1951 (including Russia).

There is to be freedom, security and liberty for everyone except the Judaeo-Christian under the Court’s secular Enlightenment values.

Europe is to be secularised – in preparation for the Anti-Christ.

6 November 2009 at 10:59  
Blogger Gnostic said...

How much worse will this get when the EU welcome mat is extended to Turkey?

No to EU laws! No to shari'a laws!

I'm still waiting for a reason not to rise up and slaughter our "elite" sh*twitted politicians.

6 November 2009 at 11:00  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

Subjugated externally by the EU and threatened from within by a repressive medieval ideology. Things are not looking too good to put it mildly.

Lack of cohesion is a weapon of the Frankfurt School. Degrade national and cultural identity by mass immigration, undermine family values, destroy tradition and build a new society. The Socialist idiots who have perpetrated all this are being manipulated by dark spiritual powers which, as atheists, they will never begin to comprehend. The fools have been seduced into 'nation building' abroad while the same cancer of extremist ideology spreads within the heart of our homeland. While the army struggles in Afghanistan there are confrontations on the streets of British cities.

If unrest breeds the nation will fragment tribally and they will be forced into a major lock-down with all that implies in terms of surveillance and police-state tactics to keep the lid on a boiling multicultural cauldron of their own making.

Goodbye Jerusalem welcome to the Dark Satanic Mills?

6 November 2009 at 11:18  
Anonymous no nonny said...

One appreciates Your Grace's requirement of courtesy and tolerance from his communicants. Very wise.

Some great responses, too. Thanks, D. Singh, for pointing out our dilemma between the euSSR and sharia. The system that is arguably the greatest and most civilized of them all - Judaeo-Christian - doesn't count at all simply because it ours and has been adopted/adapted in the democratic Anglosphere. Clearly our submission is now required, nevertheless, on pain of all kinds of alien punishment. We may have moved on since His Grace made his point by turning to ashes; but they didn't, so we 'are expected' to retrogress.

I'm inclined to follow His Grace's early example rather than theirs. We need to stand firm in defence of what we believe is right. And I don't mean what passes for right under the threatening surveillance of the extreme left.

6 November 2009 at 11:19  
Anonymous martinsewell said...

I truly do not understand how Sharia Courts can be Human Rights compliant if there is discrimination against women at the heart of the system.

Whilst is is rightly said that a volunteer before a Sharia Court might have difficulty in reversing a decision, I would have thought that there is still an "escape"argument based upon this discrimination. If a Court and a system is fundamentally unfair, in breach of the individual's right to a fair trial under Article 6, I cannot see how any secular Court could legitimately fail to strike down its decisions. Article 6 rights are absolute and not subject to the discretion known as the "margin of appreciation" which allows courts a degree of "wiggle room" for cultural adjustment.

There is surely an open goal waiting for any Court wishing to be interventionist in favour of the British sense of fair play.

Unusually, I may approve of a Judge doing this because I doubt any politician would have the courage to attempt to reverse this approach.

6 November 2009 at 11:22  
Anonymous Image 101 said...

Phillip Walling said:

"There would appear to be no place in Islam for paradox, which is where I believe truth lies: God coming as a baby and dying, broken by the world, on the Cross and yet all the while the Creator of the world, and so on and so on."

Our usual and "correct" ways of explaining the world and who "I" am, are often severely tested. This is particularly true at times when we feel stuck, angry, confused, or demoralized, and we do not yet understand what will constitute "right action". At such times our current understanding is not all encompassing enough to understand the paradox that envelops us. Usually at such times a search for only one answer or understanding is simply not enough.

Niels Bohr, the 1922 Nobel Laureate in Physics has been quoted as saying:
"The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth." Bohr used the word "complementarity" to characterise the relationship between apparently contradictory phenomena. It is only when seemingly contradictory phenomena are "understood" or appreciated as a whole, that we can begin to offer a temporarily complete description of what is, or what needs to be. In order to feel into profound truth we need to somehow embody a larger understanding of the world, our relationships, the environment, the Universe, and God. We need a way of knowing that embraces paradox, and goes beyond what "I" know or believe to be true. This is a form of knowing that welcomes diverse opinions of what is "correct."

Such knowing involves a discourse between our emotions and our intellect. A discourse between self and other. A discourse that is much more comprehensive than a dialogue about right and wrong. A discourse that invites a softening and opening up to the complementarity of what initially appear to be polar opposites. A discourse that requires passion, compassion, and commitment. A discourse that embraces differences, as integral parts of the whole. A discourse that can at times feel dangerous, but yet holds great potential.

"Why should I be 'tolerant' of something that disavows everything I hold dear and believes in worldly power and success as a reflection of the power that God will bestow on people who simply obey fairly arbitrary rules of living?

Here - here!

While it is true to say that strawberries taste exceptinally nice with cream, it is also profoundly true to say that Islam sucks!

6 November 2009 at 11:28  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mrs Gnostic,

Turkey is never going to be permitted to join the EU; that is why it has received a ‘consolation’ prize: membership of the Union of the Mediterranean (Israel is also a member).

The EU holds joint-presidency with the Union of the Mediterranean. Turkey, I believe, is about to fulfil its ‘End Times’ role.

For those of you who are Judaeo-Christians you will know what is meant in the Book of Revelation by ‘the seat of Satan’. My understanding is that Turkey has filed an application in an international court to have ‘the seat of Satan’ removed from Berlin to its historical place: Pergamon.

6 November 2009 at 11:39  
Anonymous Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

I can't give your Grace chapter and verse right now, I'm afraid, but I don't think arbitration applies to family proceedings.

So the courts will not recognise the family rulings of UK sharia "courts" at all (they do recognise rulings of foreign courts in some circumstances, and of course some countries do operate sharia law). I think there may be an unholy alliance of Muslim extremists, misguided appeasers of extremism and anti-extremist alarmists who are giving the impression that they will. Sharia councils can of course rule on whether people are married as a matter of religious law - that's not the same as ruling on whether you're married in law of course, and has no official backing or status. Certainly, if you are legally married, you can't get divorced just by presenting your local County Court a piece of paper from a sharia council! One of the big problems of course is that quite a few Muslims only marry in Islamic terms, never in English law - so they can't get divorced in a court anyway.

On human rights law: I agree with the suggestion that sharia courts applying family law would certainly be in breach of the article 6 Convention right in combination with article 14. I think the reason such "rulings" are not commonly struck down is precisely that they have no official status in the first place - they do not determine any civil rights. There's nothing, in law, to strike down.

But the point is nonetheless an important one, and shows how outrageous it was for Lord Philips - now President of the Supreme Court - to offer some support Rowan Williams's call for sharia courts' rulings to be be recognised in family law.

As a lawyer and secularist I am of course opposed to any proposal that sharia courts, any religious or any private courts be allowed any official status here, at least unless they fully guarantee human rights, fairness and equality. I'm very glad if Christians support that.

6 November 2009 at 11:47  
Anonymous richard said...

English Common Law is the ideal. however, sharia has at least one good point, in that it allows for "blood money"
many families could do with financial recompense directly from the criminal, rather than having him rot in jail at the tax-payers' expense.
in this instance, Sharia exhibits natural justice. the bereaved can either accept blood money to compensate for their loss (of a wage-earner as well as a loved one) or allow punishment, which is liable to be harsh enough to give a sense of just retribution. the decision is theirs. in this way the victims have more of a say than in out own court system.
i do not like Islam or Sharia law, it is inferior to Common Law, but on this one point i see no moral objection and a lot to commend it.

6 November 2009 at 12:11  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Mr Gardner,
'Human rights, fairness and equality' are exactly the doctrines that will lead to sharia law becoming part of the English legal system.

Such concepts have nothing to do with Christianity, and I dislike intensely 'secularists', such as yourself, trying to drag Christianity into your ideology. On that I think we have more in common with Muslims than we do with 'secularists'.

'Secular' courts in England draw their moral legitimacy from two thousand years of Christianity and can have no root other than that; to attempt to graft them onto a secular left/liberal rootstock will ipso facto try to give them a different justification, which in my opinion will not long sustain them.

6 November 2009 at 12:14  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

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6 November 2009 at 12:15  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Mr Gardner advises us that he’ll be very glad if Christians support human rights, fairness and equality.

But what kind of human rights, fairness and equality is it that establishes a legal regime that has nearly extinguished Judaeo-Christian values and hounds those who dare to hold them in the public square?

From the denial of the exercise of corporal punishment in our schools (Proverbs); to abortion; to denying Party Election Broadcasts (Evangelical Alliance); to the hanging of crucifixes in our schools (Strasbourg); to appearing before the criminal courts (for preaching the gospel); to failing to preside over civil partnerships (Employment Tribunals) – it is we, the Judaeo-Christians, who are denied human rights, fairness and equality.

Mr Gardner is permitted to practice his secular values (supported by the secular values of the current legal regime) in private and public.

We are denied the exercise of our values in public – but permitted behind closed doors.

Human rights? They’re yours mate.

Fairness? That’s yours too; and,

Equality? You must be joking – thanks to your ‘hierarchy of rights’ – don’t you think you ought to come clean and just tell the people the truth: only those rights which the Left-liberals approve of are permitted in the civil and criminal sphere.

6 November 2009 at 12:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an American who only recently realized that American Muslims, emboldened by what they are seeing in U.K., are now agitating for shari'a tribunals and courts int he U.S., I just want to than the U.K. for the precedence that you have set and the can of worms that has been unleashed. The Islamic Pandora is not only out of the box, it's inflicting it's most barbaric evils wherever it spreads -- all we need to do is learn how to say 'No!' and show some intestinal fortitude, but in the age of moral relativism and pragmatic concessions, it's too late.

But when Western Civilization has has been morphed into something that we haven't seen for centuries.. when we allow the good Muslims to turn back to the clock and eliminate centuries of progressive secular ideas in the name of their holy book... well, the running (sectarian) gun battles in our streets; the amassing of arsenals from London, New York, Chicago, Birmingham, L.A. -- just wait, it's coming.

All of this will end in fire...
no, I won't leave my name either...

6 November 2009 at 12:31  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Mr Singh, than you for your erudite observance on Turkey, the Union of the Mediterranean and the EU. However, my personal belief is that the Seat of Satan currently resides in Brussels and the sooner it's shipped out to Purgatory (ahem) the better. :)

6 November 2009 at 12:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In memory of Dr Malik Nadal Hasan's victims: (slightly extremist alarmist)

Brain Damage

The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

"I can't think of anything to say except...
I think it's marvelous! HaHaHa!"

6 November 2009 at 12:41  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Call me mad, but I believe that English law should prevail in, erm, England; no sharia and for that matter no EU law.

Just simply English law , which has been created and has evolved throughout the centuries and by acts of parliament. This system has served us well throughout the centuries, we do not need to start to import anything new now .

If I went to another country I could not expect anything other than to have to abide by the laws of that land, so too should people who live in our land have to abide by English law and not seek to impose and or use a different legal system .

6 November 2009 at 13:24  
Blogger Preacher said...

I'm afraid this is the old 'frog in the boiling water' trick. Scientists found that a frog placed in boiling water jumped out, but a frog placed in cold water that was gradually heated stayed there & died. There is no need of any other additional legal system, be it Shari'a or anything else. You live in this country, you accept its legal system.
In strict Muslim countries the law persecutes my brothers & sisters in Christ for their faith. excuses are made to villify & murder them. The perpatrators are never bought to justice,'Honor killings' are allowed for choosing to change ones faith from Islam & who can forget the mobs howling for the head of an unfortunate primary school teacher who allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear after 'the Prophet'.
Sharia is a wolf in sheeps clothing, it will await the opportunity then strike at the flock & kill.
I'm not anti any people or culture or faith, but I demand the right to share the Christian faith with all who will listen. They can choose to accept or reject, be under the saving Blood of Christ or satnav their own way to Hell, it's freedom of choice, something that is not available under Sharia law, so Not In My Back Yard Thanks.

6 November 2009 at 13:28  
Blogger Botogol said...

this area was Nick Griffin's one bulls-eye on question time. He didn't welcome islamic influence in the UK because of the attitude to women. It was the one point he made that the panel didn't respond to....

6 November 2009 at 14:07  
Anonymous Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

Gosh, I seem to be becoming a hate figure! I've no problem with that, but it does seem funny in this thread since I agree with most of you about sharia law.

Objecting to it on universal grounds of fairness and equality that reach beyond Christianity alone (as the original post did; otherwise, there'd have been no point in its mentioning sharia's unfairness to women) seems to me a much sounder basis than objecting to it just because "it's not Christian", which I think must be D. Singh's approach.

I like being called "all wise" though. I may quote that.

6 November 2009 at 14:11  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Mr Gardner states: ‘Objecting to it on universal grounds of fairness and equality that reach beyond Christianity alone (as the original post did; otherwise, there'd have been no point in its mentioning sharia's unfairness to women) seems to me a much sounder basis…’

What he does not articulate is where people who like him got these ‘universal grounds’ from. This is the same approach as Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions.

The fact is they made them up. And because that is the case, ultimately, they have no sound grounds for objecting to fascism or communism. For the fascists and communists have made up their ‘universal grounds’ too.

The Judaeo-Christian position stands upon an entirely different ground: revelation.

6 November 2009 at 14:39  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 November 2009 at 15:07  
Anonymous not a machine said...

couldnt agree more your grace with what you have written , it seeks equality when it is unable to accept the basis of how we have arrived at it.

Mr gardener "blood money" is all well and good if you have the money , it may also be the beggining of corrution and gifts so loved by other places in the world . my understand of our term compensation is that restore the finacial loss anyway irrespective of the crinimal aspect for wich you still have to serve .

Blood money is a single whammy and no lesson learned !

6 November 2009 at 15:12  
Anonymous IanCad said...

We can learn from history. In Eastern Europe Jewish civil law was generally accepted by the "more enlightened" host countries. This encouraged ghettoization which developed into the compulsory "Pale of Settlement" within Russia. It could be postulated that the holocaust was the end result of the acceptance of two concurrent legal systems. Be very careful.

6 November 2009 at 15:41  
OpenID yokel said...

This is God's view of the matter:
"15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.

"16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.

So important he said it twice. Numbers 15 vv 15-16

6 November 2009 at 16:47  
Anonymous S Lartius said...

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

"I don't think arbitration applies to family proceedings. So the courts will not recognise the family rulings of UK sharia "courts" at all ... "

As I understand it and as stated in the post an English court will now more or less rubber stamp a family matter Sharia tribunal decision. This is the view expressed by the better informed web commentators and was also the understanding of the Civitas Report on sharia (June 2009).

Could you with your legal expertise comment further, please?

IanCad said...
"... This encouraged ghettoization which developed into the compulsory "Pale of Settlement" within Russia. It could be postulated that the holocaust was the end result of the acceptance of two concurrent legal systems. Be very careful."

Well said!

When are our leaders and politicians going to do something?

And that means the Christian ones too! Wet comments like that of the Bishop of Southwark (see above) aren't much good! It made a stark contrast with what the Bishop of Rochester had the courage and sense to say.

6 November 2009 at 16:48  
Anonymous Simon too said...

In England and Wales it has always been possible for the parties concerned to choose the system under which a civil matter is resolved, and such arbitration produces a contractually enforceable result. Matters of divorce or that relate to chldren, and criminal law in general, clearly lie outside the sphere of contractually enforcebale results.

Arbitraton by Sharia Law is and has been perfectly feasible under English Law, where the parties consent. The issue of consent is important, and in some of the areas of concern that posters have raised it is questionable whether free and informed consent would have been given.

Religious courts have long sat in this country, arbitrating on civil matters. The Jews have their Beth Din courts, for example. Unless there is some novelty in the scope of the jurisdiction of the Sharia Courts, of which I am unaware, I find it hard to be concerned.

6 November 2009 at 18:14  
Anonymous IanCad said...

I thought the Beth Din courts adjudicated only Jewish religious practices that were not also legislated under state laws. I do believe they are confined to such issues as dietary laws, education and the like.
Sharia Law is far more comprehensive in its scope.

6 November 2009 at 19:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharia courts should not be allowed to hear any case involving child custody, or any inheritance dispute in which children may be affected. The state has a duty to all British children, their interests should always be paramount. Similar safeguards should be applied to other vulnerable dependants who are not in a position to give informed consent.


6 November 2009 at 19:55  
Anonymous Simon Too said...


Children and other persons under an incapacity would not be able to give consent, so arbitration would not apply.

On a side issue, "paramount" is a popular term but a dangerous one. The idea that the interests of a child should come before every other interest, at all times and for every purpose, seems to go that bit too far.

6 November 2009 at 22:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bearing in mind the government and its agaencies keep telling us we live in a multi cultural wonderful diverse melting pot enriched by immigrants from all over the world ( meaning it was obviously a bit dull before hand )if this is the cas ewe should embrace sharia law as part of that along with honour killings,female circumcision,halal meat,sex trafficking,black magic sacrificing children,organised begging/pickpocketing,cholera and TB making a comeback and on and on.

6 November 2009 at 23:01  
Blogger Wyrdtimes said...

English law for England
English taxes for England
Home rule for England

6 November 2009 at 23:09  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

Three supplementary points.

First,we can forgive Your Grace for being a few hundred years out of date but isn't Michael Nazir Ali now the former Bishop of Rochester? Good man nevertheless.

Second, where are the feminist and gay lobbies in all of this? If Christians were accorded this degree of tolerance for discrimination, they would be all over the media, but as far as I can tell they have raised not a word of criticism. Does Hattie Harperson not have a view? I await it with bated breath!

Finally, lets keep the main thing the main thing.
Carl Gardener - and anyone else for that matter - should be welcomed for their support. I may not agree with all he has to say in his secularist approach but where there can be genuine common cause to defeat a serious threat to our legal heritage of tolerance and fairness to all, we can use all friends we can get

6 November 2009 at 23:22  
Anonymous len said...

The historical pattern of Islam shows us that when a nation gains a sufficiently large Muslim population, they will begin to agitate for Shariah to be implemented. Shariah is the primary source of persecution for Christians in Muslim dominated states.

7 November 2009 at 00:04  
Blogger Manfarang said...

The Jewish religion is different from Christianity.Few Christians know much about Judaism which has its own religious court, the Beth Din.

7 November 2009 at 03:59  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Len is right..Everyone should understand his. So why don't you?

7 November 2009 at 06:47  
Anonymous S Lartius said...

@Simon too said...

Islamic judges are making decisions according to sharia principles on family matters which are rubber stamped by English Courts and enforced under English law. And you are not unduly concerned! Just a slight grudging acceptance that some Muslims might be coerced!

Have you looked at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) website and, for example, what it says about the special way Muslim cases of domestic violence will be handled? The issues it is involved in? Have you noted the image it projects of being part of the English legal system, with a judges gavel and desk as its main emblem?

Have you read the Civitas report "Sharia Law or ‘One Law For All’? especially the foreword by a practising English barrister?

Do you know what happened in Canada, where a similar recognition of sharia was proposed and totally rejected thanks especially to the opposition of Muslim women?

The comparison with Beth Din is a poor one, a small minority of a small minority. Though the Canadians, to be balanced, also withdrew all recognition of such Jewish courts in family matters.

7 November 2009 at 07:50  
Blogger Manfarang said...

A small minority in NI but at least 267,373 Jews throughout the UK.
BTW there is no uniform system of shari'a law.

7 November 2009 at 13:09  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

As with Islam generally, the women lose. It's time we pushed these pigs into the sea.

7 November 2009 at 13:22  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

How about establishing Christian Law & Christian Courts in Saudi-Arabia and other muslim-countries as well???!!!

No, for Islam 'is superior' the yes of Allah and muslims!

But NOT in reality by far! Neither in the eyes of God and of Christians/ the church.

The very worst society on the earth; the greatest injustice, the greatest discimination, the very worst violance, hatred, and other evil is Islam! Based on a book that was not even written when the founder of islamic society, Mohammed, died.

Obviously our rulers/ governments have been and are the very worst traitors of our nations in our history! They should be tried by a Sharia Court for treason!

7 November 2009 at 20:35  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

and be beheaded!

They are already walking around without their heads (they do not use it properly)so let the physical reality be brought into line with that!

7 November 2009 at 20:39  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7 November 2009 at 20:50  
Blogger Solkhar said...

Britain, like a number of other western nations has fallen into a political trap by well-established Muslim radicals.

Why should Britain have "Shari'a Councils" when in fact the majority of actual Muslim nations in this world actually do not???

Not only that, but of that minority of Muslim nations that have Shari'a legal systems, most of them have only Shari'a Courts for family law only.

The reality is that there is now a siginficant and influencial radical Muslim community in the West whom have hijacked the others and are demanding things that are frowned upon, considered rediculous or fantasy-land in the real and actual Muslim World.

There is no need for Shari'a Law at all and as mentioned, most Muslim countries do not have it and in fact have secular legal systems. The important thing that is viewed in these countries is that the standards and morals of the people of that country are reflected in that country, which for example here in Morocco were I now live, reflects the Islamic values of that country.

Simply put, get rid of Shari'a Councils in Britain, ban it. Tell the Muslims that if they wish to change the laws to reflect the moral values that they consider important, then they should get off their backsides, be part of society, join political parties and do it from within. If they cannot, they have to abide by the laws that exist.


Western-born, a Muslim and now living in North Africa

8 November 2009 at 16:59  
Blogger D. Singh said...

When I use terms such as 'Judaeo-Christian' it is to indicate that the New Testament is a tissue of quotations from the Old.

How odd of those who persecute the Jews - yet worship theirs and our God.

The early Judaeo-Christians were first called 'Christians' in the Syrian city of Antioch in 70 AD.

So there!

9 November 2009 at 08:07  
Anonymous Carl Gardner said...

@Not a Machine:

I think you're mistaking me with Richard. I never talked about blood money, and am against that system.

@ S Lartius, who said -
As I understand it and as stated in the post an English court will now more or less rubber stamp a family matter Sharia tribunal decision. This is the view expressed by the better informed web commentators and was also the understanding of the Civitas Report on sharia (June 2009).

Could you with your legal expertise comment further, please?

Look at para. 3 of this briefing from the Lawyers' Secular Society:

You can't have arbitration on family law matters. English courts won't, and don't, rubber-stamp Sharia decisions on family matters (except where it rules on the validity here of a marriage contracted abroad under officially-recognised Islamic law, eg in Pakistan).

So I don't think the well-informed web commentators you mention are that well informed. Unfortunately this is an area in which misunderstanding is rife among bloggers, journalists and others. Understandably, because it's complex. Another widespread myth is that the courts recognise Beth Din judgments - they don't.

What there is is a special system allowing divorce courts to "wait" for Beth Din judgments before dissolving a marriage. This allows Jewish wives in effect to insist their husbands give them a religious divorce as a pre-condition for obtaining a civil divorce. If you think about it, that's the opposite of allowing husbands to use civil and religious courts selectively as it suits them - which is what campaigners for recognition of sharia family law want.

9 November 2009 at 12:19  
Anonymous S Lartius said...

@Carl Gardner

Thank you for that informed response. There are still a lot of very important unanswered questions (which even if we can’t address them all here should be answered!)

What does the Muslim Arbitration Council think it’s doing? Its website portrays a parallel legal system (with all the implications and issues highlighted in the above post). They talk as if something new is going on! What about the example concerning domestic violence?

I don’t know exactly what is included in family law but if it is mainly divorce and child custody that leaves plenty of other areas that should concern us all.

What happened in Canada? Why were they so exercised about a similar development, recognition of Sharia Tribunals, and rejected it?

Regarding this issue, I somehow think there is no smoke without fire! We are being conned one small step at a time.

And I am horrified at the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the supine comment of the Bishop of Southwark quoted above. “He has yet to be convinced…. “.

9 November 2009 at 18:23  
Anonymous S Lartius said...

@ Carl Gardner

Given your comments I thought that your reference [Lawyers' Secular Society:] would show that the post above was unduly alarmist and in parts mistaken.

I have now stidied the reference and it confirms even more vividly that there is an enormous problem brewing. It screams out that any recognition of Sharia Councils is wrong, and what the Muslim Arbitration Council is up to demands investigation.

I quote from the reference:

“If a party to a family law dispute wishes to have a binding agreement they must issue proceedings in court. They may then agree to settle the case on terms but the court will only register such a settlement if it is in accordance with UK law and public policy and the court is satisfied that there was consent and equal bargaining power between the parties.”

It seems to me grossly unrealistic to expect courts will have the time, the inclination, or the expertise to determine “there was consent and equal bargaining power between the parties.” In which case it is perfectly fair to say as the original post did:

“In the one case, the court is upholding the judgement of the shari’a tribunal; in the other, it is using it as the basis of its own decision and which it is very likely to accept as courts are generally reluctant to overturn a tribunal judgement.”

Which means as I said: “As I understand it and as stated in the post an English court will now more or less rubber stamp a family matter Sharia tribunal decision.”

Perfectionists may quibble over this but your source also says:

“Evidence from women’s rights groups suggests that the existence of the MATs creates pressure on women from within their communities to submit to the MAT for determination of family or inheritance disputes rather than using UK courts. It is thought that many women would be reluctant to challenge the decision of a MAT in a UK court, therefore even though the decision of the MAT may be in fact unenforceable, women are still deprived of their right to equality at law.”


11 November 2009 at 19:31  
Anonymous S Lartius said...


“It is thought that MATs are providing a wide range of Sharia law dispute resolution within the family law field.”

“An example of some of the areas where there is a conflict with UK law are:

a. Unequal division of estates between male and female children on intestacy.
b. Custody of children. They all use preset rules to determine the issue which is contrary to UK law which recognises individual circumstances.
c. Maintenance. The Nikah or marriage contract contains pre-set rules for the amount of payment on divorce. Again this does not reflect individual requirements or circumstances.
d. The evidence of women before the religious court is worth half that of a man.
e. Polygamy.”

“There is evidence suggesting that women are being forced to ‘sign away’ their family law rights in the civil courts in order to obtain a religious divorce. Any such agreement would not be legally binding. However due to the fact that the women are unlikely to challenge the agreement in a court, steps need to be taken to prevent Sharia Councils from executing such agreements.”

“There is a separate issue which is that it is currently government policy to promote mediation in family law cases. At present organisations such as Sharia Councils are offering these mediations. The problem here is that the mediation is carried out on Sharia principles, which involves keeping the marriage together at all costs even where there are allegations of domestic violence. There are examples of cases where the woman has agreed to drop criminal charges and the man is sent on an anger management course.”

“… after much campaigning by women's rights groups, in 2005 the government of Ontario decided to ban all religious courts/tribunals from deciding family and inheritance law matters on the basis that there was a serious risk to the rights of individuals within minority groups. As part of the process a public education programme was launched to make vulnerable women aware of their rights under Canadian family law.

11 November 2009 at 19:32  
Anonymous Tamara, law student at the University of Warwick said...

It is so sad to read these anti-Islamic sentiments. There is a lot to discuss in the debate surrounding the recognition of Islamic law in the UK. There are good arguments on both sides, but I see few of them here. I would suggest that each of the persons who show such contempt for Islam and Sharia to take the time to properly understand the subject. Read the works of contemporary Islamic scholars, such as Asma Barlas. Read different translations of the Qur'an. Read conflicting opinions on various principles and practices of Sharia.

Be aware of the risk of confusing cultural/traditional practice with legal jurisprudence. Take note not only of the Islamic states which condone stoning for adultery for example, but those which are developing in the same way as Britain to meet the needs of a changing society. Read, for instance, the Moroccan Muslim Family Code and its provisions on divorce, the Tunisian laws banning polygamy or the Pakistani laws prohibiting child marriages.

Essentially, be well informed of the subject you are discussing before you make generalised statements and accusations. And don't believe everything you read - look for EVIDENCE, consider who is writing what you read and what their motivations may be. If we Brits wish to pride ourselves on being intelligent, educated, progressive, civilised, etc, we have a responsibility to listen and educate ourselves. Society develops and improves through dialogue between those with differing opinions.

Racism is born from ignorance. It is really that simple.

7 February 2010 at 13:57  
Anonymous Personal Injury Attorney Houston said...

All the maulana and Islamic gurus from different part of world should come together and make some necessary changes in shariah law so that it can provide equal rights for men and women.

22 May 2010 at 10:20  

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