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Old 09-21-2008, 05:32 PM   #1
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Finally, Some Equality Before The Law

Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings were not binding and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

Lawyers have issued grave warnings about the dangers of a dual legal system and the disclosure drew criticism from Opposition leaders. Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: "If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so."
Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, added: "I think it's appalling. I don't think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state."

Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.

It has also emerged that tribunal courts have settled six cases of domestic violence between married couples, working in tandem with the police investigations.


There are concerns for women suffering under the Islamic laws, which favours men.

Mr Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Mr Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.

Mr Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.

Courts that respect traditional family values can help keep the divorce rate down and preserve more happy families, experiments like this can be a blueprint for other cities wanting to include the wonderful and diverse legal traditions of other cultures in some avenues.

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Old 09-21-2008, 05:38 PM   #2
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It's troubling, but let's allocate the blame where it lies.

Mass immigration is the inevitable result of neo-liberal, big-business friendly policies.

Do you agree that immigration should be restricted, even if it goes against the interests of big business?

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Old 09-22-2008, 01:27 AM   #3
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Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said that sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals under a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.
Sounds like this isn't really new then, though perhaps it's only recently been recognized that this clause makes their rulings binding.

I don't know much about arbitration law--presumably if an arbitration tribunal's ruling violated the laws of the land, then it wouldn't be enforceable, right? Would any of the rulings described in the article necessarily violate British law? And how commonplace is it internationally for religious courts to be granted the status of arbitration tribunals? (I think that's the case in the US too, but I'm not sure.)
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