Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sharia Law in the UK

I  saw a Facebook post the other day calling for the closing down of all sharia courts in the UK. The comments comprised the usual array of foam flecked, rabid, Daily Mail invective about Christians not being allowed to build churches in Saudi and sharia law having no place here. For a start I doubt any of the commentators are Christian, and secondly they show an alarming ignorance of the function of sharia courts in the UK.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (the first sharia count to function in the UK) is a form of alternative dispute resolution which operates under the Arbitration Act 1996, which is available in England. It is one of two services (Islamic Sharia Council is the other) for Muslims who wish to resolve disputes without recourse to the courts system. In that manner it's the same as any other arbitration service, and calling for its closure is the same as calling for the closure of any arbitration service, such as ACAS, and heaping everything on a court system already at breaking point.

I think the people calling for UK sharia courts to be closed are under the impression they are meting out hand amputations and beheadings. Nothing could be further from the truth - they're merely a much cheaper alternative than the UK court system. Anyone can disagree with their rulings and still go to the UK courts, if they have tonnes of money.

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