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One Law for All requests urgent clarification of law

Our Spokesperson’s 19 October 2010 letter to Theresa May, Home Secretary; Kenneth Clarke, Justice Secretary; and Dominic Grieve, Attorney General requesting an urgent clarification of law.

I am writing to request an urgent clarification of the law.

I represent the One Law for All campaign. We campaign against the increasing use of sharia law in Britain, as well as maintaining an active anti-racist stance. I would appreciate your urgent response to the following questions.

1) Is the practice of family law permitted under powers provided by the Arbitration Act 1996? According to the website of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, family cases are indeed being decided, in accordance with sharia law, using the power of the Arbitration Act. As you may know, sharia law accords the testimony of a woman only half the value of that of a man. Child custody is decided in the father’s favour regardless of the circumstances of the case. Inheritance favours male family members who are awarded double that of females. Men can obtain divorce by repudiation while it is extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce, regardless of the circumstances.

On September 14th 2008, then Shadow Home Secretary (now Attorney General) Dominic Grieve was reported in the Times as stating the following:

“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.”

2) Is criminal law applied equally to all UK citizens and residents or is it permitted that criminal cases be heard and decided under self-appointed and self-regulated tribunals? The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has declared that it hears and decides upon domestic violence cases. As you know, domestic violence is a criminal offence in the United Kingdom and is liable to punishment up to and including imprisonment. However, under sharia law, victims of domestic violence are frequently required to remain within abusive marriages and no punishment is handed down to perpetrators.

More recently, on October 14th 2010, Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, declared that rape within marriage is “impossible”. Sheikh Sayeed stated that sharia tribunals have decided upon cases of rape in Britain, and that the ‘punishment’ can amount to nothing more than an apology by the perpetrator to the victim. Like domestic violence, rape is a serious crime in the United Kingdom and punishment includes the imprisonment of offenders.

Please clarify under which law sharia tribunals are permitted to adjudicate on cases of rape and if no such law exists, whether such activity is permissible in the UK. If, as I suspect, it is not, please clarify what it is that the coalition government intends to do to confront this injustice, and when.

3) Sharia councils are also active across the United Kingdom and operate as registered charities. These councils are acting as courts and handing down sharia based rulings which are inherently biased against women and children and result in unfavourable and unfair decisions against them. Please clarify whether any current charity legislation permits legal adjudication in accordance with sharia law, and if not, under which laws these councils are operating.

Under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, all public bodies (which are defined as including courts and tribunals) must act in accordance with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Article 6 of the ECHR guarantees a fair and impartial hearing for all people in judicial proceedings. As is evident, women subject to sharia law in Britain face gender-based bias from the outset; denying them a fair and impartial hearing as afforded by the Human Rights Act.

In your speech to the Conservative Party conference in October 2010, you stated the following:

“I want the message to go out to every corner of our country: this is a government that knows every British subject is born free, everybody is innocent until proven guilty and everybody is equal before the law. But let the message also go out that we will not tolerate anybody who seeks to abuse those liberties.”

Given that it is clear that Muslim women and children are subject to a less favourable legal system, and are awarded fewer rights and protections, than those of other faiths and none, please clarify if you intend to pursue this ideal and if you intend to bring an end to the injustice faced by a large number of UK citizens.

For further information and for evidence of the above claims, please see our report ‘Sharia Law in Britain; A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights’ which can be found on our website.

Yours sincerely,
One Law for All
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX


  • Robin
    Posted 19th October 2010 9:26 pm 0Likes

    An excellent letter!

  • D Martin
    Posted 20th October 2010 11:21 am 0Likes

    Women’s rights matter to some women, but I’d like to draw attention to two other examples of indulgence: halal slaughter in the UK is exempted from full application of the Animal Welfare Acts. (‘There are long-standing provisions in our law which, subject to specific requirements, permit the slaughter of animals without stunning to meet Jewish and Muslim religious requirements’. DEFRA, June 2010).

    Bigamy in the UK is an offence, except for muslims.

    Should any religious community be exempted from laws that custom, practice and sound reasoning have evolved over centuries? Islamic practices should be confined to Islamic countries.

  • Nik
    Posted 14th January 2011 10:40 pm 0Likes

    I think you’ll find, Robin, that bigamy is an offence for Muslims in the UK too. You can have as many non-married partners as you like, but legally only one wife/husband. That goes for all of us. However if your marriage is only a religious one and not properly registered, then it doesn’t legally count as a marriage anyway, it’s just two people co-habiting and that is perfectly legal.

    Personally I don’t know how your “sound reasoning” applies to polygamy, what exactly is wrong with it except that St Paul decreed that you shouldn’t do it? Not that Muslim men should be given special dispensation for multiple marriages – who you marry is nobody else’s business despite what the Christian church authorities like to think. But there is no law in the UK against extra-marital relationships and plenty of non-Muslim men have a legally married wife and a mistress with no legal standing.

    Halal meat now… that’s different and ought to be stopped immediately.

  • Dr Brian Robinson
    Posted 13th March 2011 1:28 pm 0Likes

    I’d like to take up Nik’s point about halal meat (I agree with you, Nik) and ask about kosher meat (koshering applies, strictly, to all foods, but we’re concerned with the welfare of animals on this point).

    If there was a really serious campaign against kosher slaughter practices in this country, taken up at government level with a view to legislation, would it be perceived by orthodox Jews as antisemitic (in its consequences, not necessarily in its intent)? And the same question would need to be asked concerning Muslims. (By the way, I agree with those who say the terms ‘antisemitism’ and ‘islamophobia’ have become dangerously misleading, or meaningless, but in this comment I’m going along with them, reluctantly.)

    I recall reading a year or two ago that kosher (and halal?) slaughter has/have been banned in a Scandinavian country and also in Australia (open to correction here). Do you know what repercussions, if any, this has had on those countries’ relations with its Jewish communities?

    I hesitated before writing this comment because I think the way we allow our fellow humans to treat other humans is more important than the way we allow them to treat non human animals, and I worried about contributing to losing the main points here. Nevertheless cruelty to all animals is to be opposed and condemned, and besides, if we want a truly civilised society, then one of the starting places must be concerned with how we treat our domestic and farm animals. And there’s always the (cynical?) point to consider that it’s often been said that the British get more worked up about their cats, dogs and horses than they do about people.

    The wider, more general point I’m thinking of is really about the problems of making *any* changes in society which upset members of its constituent groups and challenge their (not necessarily pathological) narcissistic sense of identity. I’m doubting whether we can do this without upsetting many people along the way, without conflict — by reason alone. Please convince me that I’m wrong. Thanks.
    All best

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