"Sharia law is spreading as authority wanes," by Joshua Rozenburg for The Telegraph:
Islamic sharia law is gaining an increasing foothold in parts of Britain, a report claims.
Mr Yusuf said a group of Somali youths were arrested on suspicion of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim's family told the police it would be settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail.
A hearing was convened and elders ordered the assailants to compensate their victim. "All their uncles and their fathers were there," said Mr Yusuf. "So they all put something towards that and apologised for the wrongdoing."
Although Scotland Yard had no information about that case yesterday, a spokesman said it was common for the police not to proceed with assault cases if the victims decided not to press charges.
However, the spokesman said cases of domestic violence, including rape, might go to trial regardless of the victim's wishes.
Mr Yusuf told the programme he felt more bound by the traditional law of his birth than by the laws of his adopted country.. "Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law," he said. "It's not sharia, it's not religious — it's just a cultural thing."
Sharia's great strength was the effectiveness of its penalties, he said. Those who appeared before religious courts would avoid re-offending so as not to bring shame on their families.
Some lawyers welcomed the advance of what has become known as "legal pluralism".
Dr Prakash Shah, a senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary University of London, said such tribunals "could be more effective than the formal legal system".
In his book Islam in Britain, Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, says there is an "alternative parallel unofficial legal system" that operates in the Muslim community on a voluntary basis.
"Sharia courts now operate in most larger cities, with different sectarian and ethnic groups operating their own courts that cater to their specific needs according to their traditions," he says. These are based on sharia councils, set up in Britain to help Muslims solve family and personal problems.
Catering to "specific needs according to their traditions." No mention of the nastier penalties and miscarriages of justice by Western standards (such as requiring four male witnesses to prove a rape has occurred, following the Qur'anic criterion used for establishing sexual offenses under Sharia law).
Sharia councils may grant divorces under religious law to a woman whose husband refuses to complete a civil divorce by declaring his marriage over. There is evidence that these councils are evolving into courts of arbitration.
Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College Islamic University, near Nuneaton, Warwicks, said this type of court had advantages for Muslims. "It operates on a low budget, it operates on very small timescales and the process and the laws of evidence are far more lenient and it's less awesome an environment than the English courts," he said.
Mr Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.
"I was speaking to a police officer who said we no longer have the bobby on the beat who will give somebody a slap on the wrist.
"So I think there is a case to be made under which the elders sit together and reprimand people, trying to get them to change."
But it certainly won't stop there if allowed to continue.