Prepared by Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space, a Leading member of the One Law for All Coalition. Updated by Spokesperson Maryam Namazie.
The One Law for All Campaign was launched on 10 December 2008, International Human Rights Day, to call on the UK Government to recognise that Sharia and religious courts are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular and that citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable. The Campaign aimed to end Sharia and all religious courts on the basis that they work against, and not for, equality and human rights. This was the year when the Archbishop of Canterbury said that there was room for accommodation of sharia in British law and proposed a fundamentalist sharia court as a model.
Maryam Namazie’s speech at the launch of One Law for All
Gina Khan’s Speech at the launch of One Law for All
Maryam Namazie interviewed in The Times: It’s time to take a stand against Islam and Sharia.
One Law for All in a march against Sharia from Trafalgar Square to Conway Hall, followed by a public meeting entitled Sharia Law, Sexual Apartheid and Women’s Rights. Maryam’s speech at the rally in Trafalgar Square.
One Law for All joins in formation of an International Bureau for Laicite in Paris with a wide number of non-governmental organisations and individuals from across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas affirming the nefarious role of fundamentalist politics and the need to counter it internationally.
Hundreds joined a One Law for All rally for an International Day against Sharia law and for human rights in Hyde Park with simultaneous acts of solidarity and support for the rally and its aims in over 20 countries.
One Law for All hold 8 March seminar on Sharia Law in Britain to mark International Women’s Day. The seminar brought together Muslims, ex-Muslims, women’s rights campaigners, lawyers and politicians to outline the problems with Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and Sharia Councils and to propose recommendations for prohibiting religious tribunals and bringing about equal rights for all.
One Law for All organises 20 June rally at Downing Street against Sharia and religious laws and for secularism and universal rights. Unite Against Fascism joins Muslims Against Crusades’ counter-demonstration against our group.
Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights – found that Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals to be in violation of UK law, public policy and human rights.
Maryam Namazie writes a piece in The Guardian entitled: What isn’t wrong with Sharia Law?
One Law for All joined September international action against stoning and in defence of Iranian stoning case, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
One Law for All holds Passion for Freedom art exhibition.
One Law for All requests clarification on the law from then Home Secretary. Receives no response.
Maryam Namazie speaks at Lord Justice Laws Treasurer of the Inner Temple on The Role of Religion in the Law. Panellists are: Professor Mark Hill QC – expert in ecclesiastical law, Maryam Namazie – Rights activist, commentator and broadcaster, and spokesperson of One Law for All, and Ahmad Thomson – Head of Wynne Chambers specialising in Sharia Law and Co-founder of the Association of Muslim Lawyers.
In December, One Law for All organised a conference on Apostasy, Sharia Law and Human Rights. Videos of the conference can be seen here.
One Law for All wrote to Director of Public Prosecutions to request confirmation as to whether or not the CPS is engaged in discussions with members of sharia tribunals, such as Sheikh Faiz Ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, and whether the CPS favours the decriminalisation of domestic violence and marital rape.
In January 2011 One Law for All held an important seminar to expose ‘Enemies, not Allies,’ which focused upon the far-Right and pro-Islamist Left groups. According to One Law for All’s Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, ‘standing up against Sharia law and Islamism is crucial in this day and age but how and why it’s done is important too. It has to be done to protect humanity, secularism and universal rights for it to bring about change for the better. Groups like the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe are using real concern about Sharia law in order to promote their racist and anti-immigrant agenda. Like the Islamists, they blame everyone who they consider Muslim for the crimes of Islamism. Pro-Islamist Left groups like Stop the War Coalition, United Against Fascism and Respect Party are no better. They excuse and justify Islamism at the expenses of the lives, rights and freedoms of innumerable people.’
Enemies not Allies: The Far-Right A report by One Law for All explores how the far-Right has attempted to hijack opposition to Islamism for its own ends. It focuses on the British National Party, the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe/America, and exposes how their activities, associations, opinions and intentions reveal a racist and inhuman worldview, which must be resisted and criticised with as much vigilance as Islamism itself.
The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has lied about discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service with regard to domestic violence. Sheikh Faiz Ul-Aqtab Siddiqui told the BBC in an interview for Daily Politics that there are on-going discussions with the CPS and that these explore “an alternative form of resolution” of domestic violence cases for Muslims in Britain. One Law for All contacted the Crown Prosecution Service to seek clarity on this. The CPS has confirmed that it has not been in any negotiations with any sharia tribunals or councils, and has not discussed the issue with Sheikh Siddiqui.
OLFA holds successful conference on Women’s Rights, Sharia Law and Secularism.
OLFA and National Secular Society write to MPs and Peers asking for support in campaign against Sharia courts and religious arbitration sending all a copy of One Law for All’s report on Sharia law.
In July 2011, One Law for All holds a debate on Sharia in the House of Commons with president of Muslim Association of Britain and lawyer Aina Khan defending Sharia courts. Maryam’s speech explains how Sharia is a code of despair, obsessed with women.
Maryam Namazie has successful visit to Australia to highlight Sharia law inequities.
One Law for All and others issue Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa.
One Law For all hold a successful rally in defence of free expression at the Houses of Parliament. Hundreds brave the cold weather to join the rally at Old Palace Yard. Jesus & Mo dedicates a cartoon to One Law for All and others.
One Law for All and others’ open letter to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch expressing concern of his defence of Islamists and calling for HRW to recognise separation of religion from state as a basic guarantee of rights.
DV8 Physical Theatre’s Can we Talk About This? Dealing with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam featuring interviews, thoughts and speeches of individuals such as Maryam Namazie, the director of ‘One Law for All,’ which fights for the rights of women, and against Sharia courts and Sharia law being introduced in Britain.
One Law for All meets with Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on 28 June to raise its concerns about sharia courts in Britain and the Charities Commission’s refusal of charity status for secular organisations. Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto is also present at the meeting.
OLFA issues statement against High Court Beth Din case where the judge approved a Get given by the New York Beth Din after establishing that it would be accepted by all rabbinical courts and orthodox synagogues around the world’. In effect, this means that if a ruling is acceptable to religion, it is therefore acceptable in law. This ruling sets a dangerous precedence. Gender discrimination is wrong – both in law and in natural justice – and this remains the case whether it is reinforced by religion or agreed to by the person being discriminated against. People are free to live their lives as they wish, but the state should not under any circumstances give credence or credibility to gender discrimination, or adopt it in to law.
Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left This report exposes Stop the War Coalition, Respect Party, Unite Against Fascism and individuals such as Ken Livingstone and George Galloway and their agenda and methods. This section of the Left uses accusations of racism and Islamophobia and a conflation of Muslim with Islamist in order to defend Islamism and Islam rather than out of any real concern for prejudice against Muslims or their rights, particularly since Muslims or those labelled as such are the first victims of Islamism and on the frontlines of resisting it.
OLFA publishes report on Multiculturalism and Child Protection in Britain: Sharia Law and other Failures.
OLFA issues statement “walking a tightrope: between the far-Right and the pro-Islamist Left”
Over a hundred people join One Law for All organised protest against gender segregation at universities.
Universities UK, a regulator for universities publishes guidance allowing visiting speakers to gender segregate their lectures. This follows struggles by students to oppose gender segregation, and reports of many universities segregating their meetings and events. One Law for All organises protests. Southall Black Sisters seeks legal advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which confirms that gender segregation is discriminatory, forcing UUK to withdraw its advice.
One Law for All organises rally against Law Society for its endorsement of Sharia compliant wills.
One Law for All Coalition successfully campaigns against the Law Society for issuing a guidance note on ’sharia compliant wills’. An open letter to the Law Society is signed by senior women’s rights and secular campaigners from numerous countries. An open letter is sent to Asma Jehangir, Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief. Content derived from extremist preachers is exposed by Maryam Namazie’s research and The organisers of the campaign also obtained legal advice from Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers, which stated that the Practice Note was unlawful as it provided guidance to solicitors that promotes an interpretation of Sharia that is discriminatory on the grounds of gender, religion and ethnicity and thus gave rise to the possibility of direct discrimination by solicitors. This came after the Solicitors Regulation Authority had already withdrawn its endorsement of the Law Society’s Practice Note on July 10, following the threat of legal action from Southall Black Sisters.
One Law for All organises a two-day international conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights. Notable free-thinkers, atheists and secularists from around the world came together for a weekend of discussions and debates on the religious-Right, its attacks on civil rights and freedoms, and the role of secularism for 21st century humanity. The exciting two-day conference discusses the Arab Spring, Sharia and religious laws, the limits of religion’s role in society, free expression, honour killings, apostasy and blasphemy laws, faith schools, women’s rights, secular values and much more. The 250 delegates made an unequivocal stand with the brave women and men of Kobane saying: “Their struggle is ours. Their fight is a fight for us all. We are all, today, Kobane.”
One Law for All and others sign statement: After the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Support those Fighting the Religious-Right.
One Law for All organise a Conference on Sharia Law, Apostasy and Secularism to discuss freedom of expression, apostasy and blasphemy laws, Islamism and the religious-Right, as well as Sharia in the law, educational system and public policy. They will also highlight the successful campaigns against the Law Society and Universities UK and pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo and the many Muslims, ex-Muslims and others who have been killed or persecuted for their dissent.
Human Rights Day – On Thursday 10 December 2015, Southall Black Sisters (SBS), One Law for All, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), Centre for Secular Space and British Muslims for Secular Democracy attended 10 Downing Street to hand deliver a letter signed by nearly 400 individuals and organisations urging David Cameron to hold an inquiry into the discriminatory nature of Sharia ‘courts’ and other religious arbitration forums, restore legal aid and commit to maintaining the Human Rights Act.
Is Sharia discriminatory against women? Spokespersons Maryam Namazie and Gina Khan do interviews in the media opposing religious arbitration.
One Law for All coalition and unprecedented number of women’s rights campaigners publish open letter to Home Secretary urging government to impartially and fully investigate Sharia bodies.
Over 300 abused women sign a statement opposing Sharia courts and religious bodies warning of the growing threat to their rights and to their collective struggles for security and independence.
Government announces a full, independent inquiry into sharia – it does not extend to other religions courts and tribunals. The inquiry will examine whether there is misuse of sharia and what if any problems it causes. One Law for All welcomes inquiry but argues for wider terms of reference. Government announces that theologian Mona Siddiqui will lead the inquiry, Two Imams are appointed as advisors, members of the inquiry include a Christian fundamentalist judge and two lawyers. After a refusal to even respond to concerns by voiced by the One Law for All coalition that the inquiry should be transparent, judge-lead and human rights based and not a theological inquiry, the Coalition called for a boycott of the inquiry.
Home Affairs Select Committee in Parliament also establishes inquiry into sharia. While the government appointed Siddiqui inquiry is not making either its hearings or its evidence public, the Home Affairs Select Committee will do so. The Coalition mobilises to collect testimonies of individual women and puts in a wide range of evidence detailing the international fundamentalist networks involved with running Sharia ‘courts.’ OLFA shows that the ‘courts’ are abusive and adversarial. They are not a mechanism for alternative dispute resolution. The Coalition establishes that a community based ‘zina’ law is in operation. Women feel that they cannot remarry after having a civil divorce, unless they are also granted a religious divorce. The Coalition shows that these attitudes were not held by Muslims a generation ago.
Maryam Namazie gives oral evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee, and provides devastating supplementary evidence, to clarify that many sharia courts are run as charities, produce fatwas and pressure that goes beyond women’s divorces and are part of international networks. They also do call themselves ‘Judges’ and refer to their proceedings as a ‘court’. IKWRO and Southall Black Sisters also submit evidence, along with other members of the Coalition. Dozens of testimonies are also submitted and a petition from women affected by violence. This inquiry is closed due to the calling of the general election.
OLFA Spokesperson Gina Khan writes on how child veiling is child abuse in discussing Waseem Zafar and Islamicising the Biraadari.
Maryam Namazie writes about Sayeeda Warsi’s blinkered views on Islamism in the Evening Standard.
SBS and Inspire act as intervenors to explain why gender segregation of girls at a state funded Islamic school run by the al Hijrah trust, is discriminatory in case between schools regulator Ofsted v Birmingham City Council. The Court of Appeal rules that gender segregation can amount to unlawful sex discrimination.
The Siddiqui review reports after 18 months, having interviewed only 8 women (far fewer than the OLFA coalition), and recommends regulation of sharia courts, which the government rejects. OLFA Coalition urges caution in accepting the suggestion that a ‘compromise’ involving regulation and training of Sharia courts provides a way forward. Regulation is neither desirable nor viable it says.
One Law for All Coalition write to Secretary of State on the Independent Review on Sharia saying that Sharia Laws are part of the extremist threat and not a solution.
One Law for All defends Noura Hammad, facing the death penalty in the Sudan.
One Law for All Coalition calls on the British Government to Stop Pushing Minority Women Towards Religious Courts and protests about government having conceded the need for a civil divorce by changing the divorce form to indicate that a civil divorce may not be sufficient. This fundamentally undermines British law and justifies Islamists and other fundamentalists insistence on separate religious divorces.
Spokesperson Maryam Namazie asks why the Inclusive Mosque is so afraid of secularism.
One Law for All organises landmark International Conference on Sharia, Segregation & Secularism in London to mark its 10th anniversary. Resolution in support of Asia Bibi is adopted, including her right to asylum and protection in the UK. Manifesto on Women and Secularism is also adopted.