The UK’s logic seems to be that, since both parties are willing to abide by the decision of a third part, in this case, the sharia court, and all parties concerned are doing so willingly, then it’s legal. But, as this report points out, what of those veiled Muslim women in Britain who know no English, don’t know their rights as citizens of Britain, and simply do what their men — fathers, husbands, brothers — tell them to do, that is, let a sharia court decide? Are they truly “free” in the matter?
“British bishop: questions remain on Sharia,” by Toby Cohen for Religious Intelligence, September 28:
Sharia law has been applied to British citizens in arbitration tribunals around the country since August 2007, but crucial questions need to be asked, says the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.
The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has take advantage of Section 1 of the Arbitration Act 1996 which allows individuals to nominate any third party to settle their argument. It says: “The parties should be free to agree how their disputes are resolved, subject only to such safeguards as are necessary in the public interest”.
In the Telegraph, Dr Nazir-Ali asked how we could be certain the parties had submitted to the rule of the arbitration tribunals willingly, particularly in the case of women. He said: “Both in terms of submission to a tribunal and in accepting its decisions, are women genuinely free, or is it possible that there are elements of coercion?”
The bishop also questioned how the rulings themselves could be reconciled with British law, based on such different values. In the cases of alimony, division of estate and marriage, he points out stark differences between Sharia law and that of the land which supposedly now supports it…