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Rasa News Agency - There are no sharia courts in UK
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
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Time : Monday, April 24, 2017
News ID: 429177
International lawyer:
There are no sharia courts in UK
Rasa - There are no sharia courts (Islamic religious courts) in the United Kingdom or in the wider Atlantic World, says Barry Grossman, an international lawyer and political analyst.

RNA - Grossman, who is based on the Indonesian island of Bali, made the remarks in an interview while commenting a statement by Paul Nuttall, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).


Nuttall said on Sunday that his party will push to ban the burqa and sharia courts (Islamic religious courts) in the United Kingdom. He added that there were no similar proposals to ban Jewish religious courts in the country. 


‘British media, politicians behind controversy’


Grossman told Press TV that the current controversy is being fanned by the British media and self-serving politicians who are promoting the already ubiquitous Islamaphoia they have inculcated in the public consciousness.


He said there are sharia councils in the UK which “aim to help resolve family, financial and commercial problems in accordance with sharia principles,” but no sharia courts.


“Such councils have long existed in every faith, with many controversial positions being embraced as a matter of policy by both Jewish and Christian church councils which, like sharia councils, make determinations on issues of divorce, dietary practices, family relations, religious practice, and even abortion, all for purely religious purposes, and without the wider community taking an interest, let alone getting up in arms about it,” he explained.


“Of course, many countries take a far more sensible approach by leaving divorce and family law matters to the exclusive jurisdiction of religious courts, except in instances which involve individuals professing no formal religious affiliation. But in Atlantic World nations, divorce and family law matters tend to be subject to the exclusive legal jurisdiction of secular courts and religious councils which supplement secular judicial determinations with rulings based on religion, have become ubiquitous,” the lawyer stated.


‘Sharia councils are no courts’


“Despite the best efforts of media outlets like The Guardian and BBC -  to say nothing of more reactionary newspapers like The Telegraph has well as self-serving politicians -  to convince the public not only that sharia councils are courts,  but that they are also extremist by orientation and that their supposedly unjust decisions are somehow ‘enforced’ against supposedly oppressed Muslim women while, at once, comprising an existential threat to the British way of life, the simple fact is that Islamic or sharia councils are not courts and they are in no way unfair by Islamic standards,  barring those rare situations where there is abuse,” Grossman said.


“That said, spurred on by reactionary, though obviously disingenuous media outlets and by politicians like Nigel Farge and Baroness Cox, simultaneous inquiries have been launched into so-called sharia courts by both the Home Office and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee,” he said.


“Those formal processes are of course concerned only with Islamic councils – not the non-existent sharia courts the media is obsessing over -  and, more importantly, these inquiries are not empowered to consider de facto let alone systemic abuses arising from the decisions of rabbinical or church councils. As a result, they are, on their face, openly discriminatory manifestations of the ubiquitous Islamaphoia that has been cultivated by special interests in the Atlantic World,” he added.


‘Even May expressed support for sharia councils’


“Meanwhile, after an on-line petition calling on the UK government to prohibit and criminalize non-existent ‘sharia courts’ received over 15,000 signatures last year, the British government replied with a public statement advising that rulings by sharia councils – not to be confused with courts - are only permitted to the extent they are also legal under UK la,” Grossman said.  


“Even the Conservative Prime Minster Theresa May expressed her qualified support for such community based sharia councils just before becoming prime minster last year, by defending their place in society,” he noted.


“In other words, religious councils, the authority of which is voluntarily embraced by individuals, are not courts and any decisions made by them cannot violate the secular law of state, let alone in a manner that involves some criminal act. Such councils have long existed in all the Abrahamic traditions,” the analyst said.


“For example, the Roman Catholic Church treats all consummated sacramental marriages as being lifelong unions, and therefore does not allow remarriage after a divorce if the other spouse is still alive and the marriage has not been annulled. Annulment is not the same as divorce - it is a declaration. Before a divorced person can remarry in the Catholic Church, he or she must obtain an annulment by a Catholic diocesan tribunal which is, of course, a similar organ to sharia,” he stated.  


“The Church of England also took an indissolublist line until 2002, when it agreed to allow a divorced person to remarry in church under exceptional circumstances,” he added.


“The Episcopal Church, for its part, takes the view that ‘the traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union’ and, in 2016, voted to suspend its American branch for officiating marriages of same-sex couples in church,” he said.


‘Divorce in Judaism’


“In Judaism, it is accepted that for a Jewish divorce to be effective the husband must hand a bill of divorce called ‘a get’ to his wife, and not vice versa. In Jewish law, the consequences of a woman remarrying and having a child while still legally married to another is profound.  The woman would be deemed an adulterer and the child would be a mamzer, to be avoided at any cost,” the lawyer pointed out.  


“In Jewish law, divorce is an act by the married, rather than a decree by some court or religious authority and therefore the process can easily be abused. Notwithstanding any court ruling which may direct a husband to give his wife a divorce, the parties remain married until such time as the husband actually delivers the get. A wife can initiate a divorce process on several grounds but this right extends only so far as petitioning a court to force her husband to divorce her,” he said.


“Significantly, an enactment called Herem de-Rabbenu Gershom (literally, the proscription of Rabbenu Gershom) is universally accepted throughout European Jewish communities and prohibits all husbands from divorcing their wives against their will,” he said.


‘Courts controversy part of anti-Muslim agenda’


“Yet despite quasi-judicial organs of both Judaism and Christian churches rigidly embracing positions which are squarely at odds with the secular views of modern liberals and with the Atlantic World’s contrived position on the status of women, we do not see any concerns emanating from the wider community or being promulgated by the media or politicians about Jewish women and men who are unfairly treated by rabbinical rulings, or concerns about decisions made by Christian church tribunals which are unfair by secular, liberal standards,” he noted.  


“The simple fact is that there are no Sharia Courts in the UK or in the wider Atlantic World. This contrived storm-in a-teacup over Islamic councils is clearly part of the wider anti-Muslim, geopolitical agenda and, at its worst, presumes to invest in secular Western governments the coercive power to redefine Islam itself when, in fact, any individual who feels burdened by the determination of a Sharia Council, is free to simply ignore it,” the commentator concluded. 




Source: Press TV

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