Monday, 29 June 2009

Sharia Courts

The think tank Civitas has today issued a report regarding Sharia Courts in Britain and I wrote the foreword which is based on the earlier Blog I wrote in February this year on the anniversary of the Archbishop of Canterburys famous (or infamous) speech. The report can be bought but for those too mean to do so you can download a copy courtesy of Civitas, I get paid the same amount (ie nothing) either way.

Anyway it has given me the opportunity to get interviewed by the Guardian and I have also been contacted by Al'Jazeera who seemed slightly shocked to discover that intelligent people (such as myself ahem) live outside London

One point that does crop up frequently in these debates is a comparison with the Jewish Beth Dinn courts and the suggestion that if Sharia Courts were banned then the Beth Dinn would have to be banned also. For those who are interested the Centre for Social Cohesion has published an analysis of the Beth Dinn which can be downloaded as well as a short summary The important point to note are the areas that the Beth Dinn do NOT deal with namely Child care and Criminal law which are areas dealt with by the ordinary Civil Courts. If the Sharia Courts operated with the same restrictions as the Beth Dinn there would be no problem. In addition Rabbis will not perform Marriage Ceremonies unless the marriage is also registered in accordance with the Marriage Act 1949 . Immams and Mosques, by contrast, are performing Nikah (Muslim Marriage) ceremonies which are not being registered under the Marriage Act and this is both illegal (see s75 of the Act) and dangerous because the new wife often does not know that her "marriage" has no legal validity. This is an issue which really does need to be faced up to by the main Muslim organisation the Muslim Council of Britain. Ignoring the issue is unfair to British Muslim women and is depriving them of their rights as British citizens

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