An independent review into the application and sorry state of Sharia law in the UK lets us know that the British government don’t even know how many Sharia law councils are in existence in England & Wales, finally they admit to the methodical Qur’an endorsed discrimination of women, one victim of forced marriage being asked to sit with her family, “inappropriate” appropriation of civil legal terms used.

 

The review  which is called ‘The independent review into the application of sharia law in England and Wales’ – Some were critical of the religious outlook on the problem. Born in Pakistan and Professor of Islamic and Inter-religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh Mona Siddiqui,  Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE and Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi were placed in the panel and on the board of advisor’s. Some of the other members included Sam Momtaz QC, Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE QC (Hon), and Sir Mark Hedley DL.

Women’s rights groups describe the review as a “inappropriate theological approach”, the review goes on to advocate Islamic marriage into civil law, and the other way round, this is so that vulnerable Muslim women don’t feel like they can only start divorce proceedings through Sharia law and councils. The review almost exclusively focuses on divorce.

The report shockingly makes the admission:

 “The exact number of sharia councils operating in England and Wales is unknown. Academic and anecdotal estimates vary from 30 to 85. The review has identified 10 councils operating with an online presence. The sharia councils identified by the review were mostly in urban centres with significant Muslim populations, such as London, Birmingham, Bradford and Dewsbury.”

The review investigators make another admission they did not witness any Sharia council legal work or process:

 “The review panel did not observe first hand either the councils’ process for obtaining information from the individuals seeking their assistance or the decision-making process used by the councils.”

Arguably, the prime focus of the review was to float the idea of “linking Islamic marriage to civil marriage” to make sure “that a greater number of women will have the full protection afforded to them in family law and they will face less discriminatory practices. This will be a positive move aimed at giving women maximum rights should the marriage end in divorce”.

This would mean we would need to alter the Marriage Act 1949 and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, “to ensure that civil marriages are conducted before or at the same time as the Islamic marriage ceremony, bringing Islamic marriage in line with Christian and Jewish marriage in the eyes of the law”.

Even though they admitted men are regarded and treated better in Sharia councils, the review said that system should remain the same but be ‘self-regulated’ by Imams.

  1. It could invite, encourage or even urge sharia councils to adopt a system of uniform self-regulation.
  2. The state could provide a system of regulation for sharia councils to adopt and then to self-regulate.
  3. It could impose such a system and provide an enforcement agency similar to OFSTED. However, proportionality is not the only issue. Just as the state does not confer legitimacy on the Beth Din or on Catholic tribunals by seeking to regulate them, the state may be reluctant to regulate sharia councils. That raises a dilemma: either the state withholds further intervention or it risks intervention being perceived as conferring legitimacy upon sharia councils and thereby creating a parallel legal system.

Despite the difficulties, we have concluded that intervention/regulation carries more advantage than no intervention.

It is a great advantage to be a man in a Sharia council because of how easily they can obtain divorce compared to women, the review talks about slowing down this problem not destroying it, British law should rule superior over Islamic law and a man should not simply be allowed to shout ‘Talaq’ several times in his wives face to secure a Sharia council backed divorce.

Men seeking an Islamic divorce have the option of ‘talaq’, a form of unilateral divorce that they can issue themselves. Women do not have this option, unless inserted as a term in the marriage contract (which varies from school to school) and therefore have to seek a ‘khula’ or ‘faskh’ from a sharia council.

The report went on to state: “that in some instances, during khula divorces, women were asked to make some financial concessions to their husband in order to secure the divorce”. So women are literally being forced into financially blackmailing their husbands for a divorce, how disgusting!

types-of-divorce.jpg

The review should of heavily criticised these vile practises, but instead it will seek to create “a body by the state with a code of practice for sharia councils to accept and implement. This body would include both sharia council panel members and specialist family lawyers. This body could go on to monitor and audit compliance of the code of practice.”

It also contains a very sinister message that the left-wing politicians and political activists have always denied and called nonsense. that “[t]he primary and underlying principle of sharia councils is the application of sharia law”, the government seems to be either complicit or blissfully unaware of the spread and seriousness of Sharia law in this country and the dangers it brings to communities like those affected by Islamic No-Go zones in particular.

The most well established sharia councils in England and Wales have been in existence since the 1980s. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the numbers of sharia councils in England and Wales has increased in the last 10 years.

The report also scarily floats the idea of effectively handing quasi-legal status to Sharia councils and law:

Such regulation will indeed endorse and add legitimacy to the perception of the existence of a parallel legal system whilst the outcomes of the sharia council processes in terms of religious divorces have no standing in civil law.

The problem with advocating this is the review showed us a misinterpretation of British law:

The sharia councils that were visited all had a very loose definition of mediation. In all cases there appeared to be confusion between mediation and what is in effect reconciliation counselling. All councils visited within the context of the review made provision for reconciliation counselling at the commencement of the process. The reconciliation was invariably described as ‘mediation’ when it is clearly not.

Save for one individual, the review found that those conducting the mediation at sharia councils have not received mainstream training from the recognised mediation organisations, nor was there any evidence of accreditation. The sharia councils appear to use the term mediation in a much looser sense than that of the highly trained and accredited mediators practicing in family law.

The author added:

The creation of state endorsed regulation sends the message that certain groups have separate and distinct needs and further that sharia councils are an appropriate forum for resolution of their family law disputes. In short it would perpetuate the myth of separateness of certain groups. The acceptance of the premise that sharia councils only deal with, engage in or touch upon the dissolution of the religious marriage aspect of the dispute is naïve and unrealistic. In any family law or relationship dispute the issues are multi-faceted. Ancillary outcomes which arise out of the ‘mediation and other functions’ that sharia councils undoubtedly perform may be given legitimacy. Those functions where they deal with dowry forfeiture (or return) financial remedies, arrangements for children and issues regarding future behaviour and conduct will impact on the civil rights of those to whom they relate.

The review did mention a few “good practices” in the Sharia councils, but they were sadly made to feel less special by the “bad practices” that take place.

Some of the example of “good practices” that the author noted:

  • reporting of family violence and child protection issues to the police;
  • women unable to pay fees have them lowered/no payment taken;
  • religious divorce granted as formality upon civil divorce;
  • councils’ signposting to civil remedies, such as civil courts for child arrangements;
  • little evidence of women being asked to reconcile relationships rather than obtain divorce;
  • councils declining to deal with any ancillary issues and referring users to civil courts;
  • in practically every case where a woman was seeking divorce, a divorce was granted;
  • some councils had women panel members;
  • some councils said they have safeguarding policies in relation to children and domestic violence.

Some of the evidence of  “bad practices” are listed below:

  • inappropriate and unnecessary questioning in regards to personal relationship matters;
  • a forced marriage victim was asked to attend the sharia council at the same time as her family;
  • insistence on any form of mediation as a necessary preliminary;
  • women being invited to make concessions to their husbands in order to secure a divorce (men are never asked to make these concessions). For example in khula agreements, husbands may demand excessive financial concessions from the wife;
  • lengthy process so that while divorces are very rarely refused they can be drawn out;
  • inconsistency across council decisions and processes;
  • no safeguarding policies and/or the recognition for the need of safeguarding policies;
  • no clear signposting to the legal options available for civil divorce;
  • even with a decree absolute a religious divorce is not always a straightforward process and the council will consider all the evidence again;
  • adopting civil legal terms inappropriately, leading to confusion for applicants over the legality of council decisions;
  • very few women as panel members;
  • panel members sitting on sharia councils who have only recently moved to the UK, and who do not have the required language skills and/or wider understanding of UK society;
  • varying and conflicting interpretations of Islamic law which may lead to inconsistencies.

 

There is a funny list of people that support the review: Iman Abou Atta a director of discredited TellMAMA group that wants to shut down criticism of Islam, also Labour councillor Neghat Khan, the terrorist-linked East London mosque’s manager Sufia Alam, and Alia Waheed a journalist for the Guardian.

 

Sharia law & councils are incompatible with Western culture, customs, law and people and as such we should remove it from our society before it causes unforeseen damage to our liberty and democracy we all cherish so much. Women should not be subject to submission to their husbands or some Imam, she is a free person with the right to make her own choices in life and religious law should not dictate that or force her into a marriage or financial blackmail to get out of one.

Sharia law and councils should be banned effective immediately…

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