After reading many comments about Britain and sharia law I thought it would be best to start a thread so it can be discussed.
Firstly I think it should be clarified that Britain does not practice sharia law. However this does not seem to be the view that some people in
Britain (amazingly), America and I am assuming (rightly or wrongly) other countries have of British law.
I am basing my opinion of other countries' views about this on comments made on ATS and other boards and from what I see on U.S television. I watch a
lot of U.S telly (partly because I like to see how they view the world but mostly because they made the Wire and Manimal) and the statement that
Britain has sharia law is made quite often. This is on both left wing (John Stewart and Bill Maher) and right wing (Fox news) programming.
Britain's rule of law has developed over a thousand years, we have the Magna Carta and created habeas corpus. It is the basis for most of the judical
systems in the Commonwealth and the U.S.A. There have been NO cases of any person being tried in any British court under sharia law.
Civli cases however, are different.
Since the 1996 arbitration act was passed (www.legislation.gov.uk...
), opposing sides in civil cases can have a dispute
arbitrated by any third party that they both agree on. Any ruling made this way is enforceable in British law.
The muslim council have recognised this and set up an arbitration service for British muslims(www.matribunal.com...
). It is this
service that they label a court and they base their judgements on sharia law.
Therefore, if two British muslims have a civil dispute and agree beforehand to have that dispute arbitrated by the muslim council under sharia law
then they can and consequently, due to the arbitration act these rulings become enforceable by law.
This is the contentious issue for a lot of people in Britain as British law is inherently secular and people want to keep it like that. This is
perfectly understandable and reasonable. Our laws were primarily developed on judeo christian morals but as a society we have evolved past those and
our legal sytem reflects this.
However, as I said, civil cases are different. People can choose how they want their dispute arbitrated and if they choose to have it done under their
religions laws, then that is their right (or is it a privelege? I believe so)
Because the muslim counciul have done this relatively recently and because of the general feelings towards muslims there has been a lot of headlines
and discussion about this (www.timesonline.co.uk...
) . Leading to the misconception about Britain having sharia law (I am aware some
people would say that this is not a misconception, that is up for discussion).
However they are not the only religion to arbitrate civil cases like this.
Some British jews also do it, the British beth din has existed since the 1700's
). They have been making civil
judgements in accordance with rabbinical law since then but there has been little mention of this fact whenever this subject is discussed.
In all of these cases the judgements made by the arbitration services (or religious courts) have to be in accordance with British law, if they are not
either side can take the other side to legitimate court (and in my opinion get a legitimate judgement).
I think therefore it is demonstrably wrong to say that Britain has sharia law.
But then, it is not wrong to say someone can get a civil judgement made under sharia law and this for me is the issue and worthy of discussion and the
point I am trying to make.
Should any religion have a place in the legal system?
I think all courts and court cases, both civil and criminal, should be heard in a secular court. I dont think religion has any place in the legal
system and thankfully in criminal law it doesn't. I dont think it ever will either. Our legal system has been built on the justice and injustice of
many people over many years and is something Britain should now be proud of. There are always injustices and laws you don't agree with but the actual
legal process is something to be proud of I think.
With civil cases though, which are subjective to the poeple involved, who am I to impose my ideals on to someone else? In a free society if people
want to believe in a god and a religion and live their life according to its precepts, then that is their business. As long as they dont break the law
of the land they are doing nothing wrong.
We have legislation that specifically gives people that right. they are exercising that right. That is how it is for everybody regardless of religion,
race or sexuality.
It is because of these rights that I can be pretty certain that Britain would never have sharia law. What rights would women have under sharia law?
People fought for those rights. People died for those rights. They are not going to give them back.
I can never see sharia law becoming a reality. For example; there are 2 million muslims in Britain, a percentage of which want sharia law. There are
30 million women in Britain, none of who want to give back their rights. Thats not mentioning the gay people and the men who dont want sharia law.
Which is basically everybody apart form the small percentage of British muslims. Look at the numbers, it's not happening and it is not going to
However saying that, I still think any legal system should be secular. But you could also argue that certain civil cases are just disputes and if
someone wants to get a cleric or rabbi to sort it out then fine.....
So thats my bit. What do you think?
Cheers ATS, this is my first thread so if there are any formatting issues let me know and I will ask how to solve it in future.
edit on 11-2-2011 by doubleplusungood because: (no reason given)