A typical problem in modern Muslim marriages: wife and daughters refuse to be beaten. For some reason Demir, a self-appointed Sharia lawyer, has not been charged for not reporting the violence to the police.
German Spiegel Online, June 20, 2012: “In the Name of Allah. Islamic Mediators and Germany’s ‘Two Legal Systems‘”:
Demir’s typical clients are husbands whose wives have left them and fathers of couples who are having problems. They often complain about their wives and daughters, namely Muslim women who rebel against corporal punishment or want to free themselves from the confines of marriage, even if they have children. …
Arnold Mengelkoch, the official in charge of immigrant affairs in Berlin’s NeukÃ¶lln district, is familiar with the “informal Islamic family justice system” in his neighborhood. He estimates that 10 to 15 percent of Muslims in the religiously conservative community use the system to resolve their conflicts.
“There are two legal systems,” says Sabine Scholz, a family law attorney in the northern city of Flensburg, “a German one and an Islamic one, which puts women at a disadvantage.”
For some Muslim immigrants, Islamic law is more important than German law. Mathias Rohe, an Islamic law expert in the Bavarian city of Erlangen, encountered cases in his field studies “in which Muslim parties performed marriages or divorces, for example, exclusively in accordance with traditional Islamic norms.”
Some Muslims mistrust government organizations, says Rohe, who sees himself as an intermediary between the Islamic and German legal cultures. According to Rohe, some people are trying “to establish a religious parallel structure, because they do not want to submit to the institutions of a secular, non-Islamic state.”
As a result, imams and arbitrators in Berlin, the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein apply Sharia law on a daily basis, even though it is sometimes incompatible with the German constitution and German family law. In particular, Islamic law discriminates against women in the following ways:
- They are not permitted to marry non-Muslims;
- In an arbitration, family unity takes precedence over the woman’s right of self-determination, even in cases involving violence;
- In a divorce, the man receives sole custody of the children;
- Polygamy and marriages with minors are allowed; under German law, 16-year-old girls can only marry with the permission of a family court.