Monday, January 21, 2008

No, we do NOT want sharia law

For the last couple of days I've been resisting the temptation to post about this article that appeared in the Telegraph on Saturday (since updated), but it seems that everywhere I look I am reminded of it - I even got an email from MBL Seminars this morning advertising, inter alia, a seminar entitled 'Islamic Family Law - The Practicalities'! So, now I can resist the temptation no longer.

I have posted previously about sharia law. As I said there: "Increased use of Sharia law is bound to give rise to calls for its decisions to be recognised by English law - something which is obviously wrong, but which may be increasingly difficult to resist, especially in these politically correct times." Well, it seems my little prediction is coming true. According to the article, the number of British Muslims using sharia courts is increasing, and now we are getting calls for sharia to be given legal authority.

I do not intend to go through the reasons why we should not adopt sharia law in this country, whether for divorce or anything else, as they should be self evident to any reasonable person. Even if it were accepted to be a perfectly fair system, which it patently is not, you obviously cannot have two different systems of law working alongside one another.

By way of example of the problems that could ensue, take the following scenario. A Muslim woman wants to divorce. She wants to use the English divorce system, as she knows that she will achieve a more favourable settlement. However, her Muslim husband has already instigated a divorce under sharia law (perhaps by text message). If sharia law has legal force then presumably she must submit to it, unless she renounces Islam. However, one of the particularly nasty features of the Islamic form of religious delusion is its treatment of apostates. As the article mentions, even in Britain 36 per cent of young Muslims believe that a Muslim who converted to another religion (or, presumably, simply renounces Islam) should be "punished by death". Would she risk her life just to obtain a better financial settlement?

7 comments:

  1. ...or how to solve a problem called Sharia.

    An interesting if slightly hysterical response to the Telegraph Article.

    If people accept the jurisdiction of these "courts" and the outcome is reasonable then the law of the land will uphold them. This is what is happening. They are treated like the Jewish Beth din tribunals. If people are able to sort their problems out quickly, fairly and most of all cheaply then why not?

    I accept that the muslim faith (or at least some of the adherers thereto) have a bad press when it comes to women's rights. And the treatment of apostates proposed by some is unacceptable. But no-one seems to be suggesting that a Sharia Court could pronounce a Decree of divorce Absolute.

    more interesting reading is found at:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6190080.stm

    - the Law in Action website on the BBC.

    No mention of abolishing Church Schools - so that'a a plus.

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  2. I don't think it's hysterical at all, Paul. Fine, if people use a system like this as a form of ADR. But when you get married you don't realise you're submitting to the jurisdiction of one of these "courts", so the analogy doesn't hold. I feel just as uneasy about the system that requires Jewish women to wait for a "get" (I think it's called). It's just not acceptable in the UK today for any system of so-called law to discriminate blatantly against women - is it hysterical to think so? If so, then I'm glad I've not had a fairness hysterectomy.

    I think it's also possible to err by being too mild in response to injustice: I think Islam's problem with women's rights is much more than a bad press (in fact, Islam has had an amazingly good press, I think) and thinking that those who reject Islam should be killed is much more than "unacceptable".

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  3. Thanks Carl - saves me from composing a reply myself!

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  4. We seem to have some sort of strange Vulcan mind-link on this subject, John. Are we part of an awful outbreak of militant secularism?

    Oh, and is "get" right? I seem to recall from my pupillage (first six with David Houston at Gray's Inn Chambers) that a woman simply had to wait for her husband to agree to one - unimpressive if correct.

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  5. John - mentioned this post in my daily news podcast for Tuesday 22 Jan. Interesting matter

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  6. Carl: I don't think there is anything awful about it. All we are doing is making our views heard, something that theists have always done (loudly!). If that is being 'militant', then so be it. Theists are just objecting because they feel that religion demands 'special respect', but why should we respect something based upon an irrational belief system?

    You are correct about the 'Get'. The husband hands the wife the Get document and she has to formally agree to accept the Get. The article in the Telegraph is, however, a little misleading. It suggests that a Get can replace a civil divorce. It cannot - a civil divorce is still required to legally dissolve the marriage. The Get is only needed so that the divorce is recognised by the Jewish community. Without a Get any sexual relationship by the wife with another man will be regarded as adultery under Jewish law, even if she has a civil divorce. Further, if the wife conceives a child by another man then that child and all its descendants will be a 'mamzer'( i.e. religiously illegitimate) for all time, and will not normally be able to marry another Jew. The only special status that the Get has in English law is that one party (normally the wife) can apply to the court for the decree absolute to be stayed until the court is satisfied that the marriage is also dissolved in accordance with Jewish law.

    Charon: I look forward to listening to that.

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  7. Charon: I've now listened to the podcast. Many thanks for the mention.

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