Monday, September 15, 2008

British Islamic Law?

This article describing Islamic sharia courts given power to make rulings in Britain is disturbing on many levels, and hard for me to conceive of as an American.

As it stands, such rulings fall under a voluntary form of alternative arbitration between those who agree to seek the sharia court's rulings in domestic disputes, divorces, financial issues, and community disputes.

Still, it doesn't take much imagination to conjure up situations in which native-born British citizens, who happen to be Muslim, could be denied British rights.

How would this scenario impact minors of Muslims? Would the children of Muslim families be caught in the clutches of these courts because their parents seek resolution there, as opposed to being protected with the full force of British law?

The article relates an example in which property inheritance is divided according to Islamic law, in which the males receive twice as much as the females of the family. What would happen if four out of the five siblings agree to arbitration by the sharia courts and the fifth refuses, instead preferring British law? Will the majority win out because they can bring forth their family's religion as an arguing point that this is what their deceased parents would have wanted, thereby forcing the fifth sibling's rights to be discarded?

More disturbing than the legal entanglements, which are bound to crop up, is the concept that any country would, even slightly, set aside its sovereign legal system to accommodate another system which is bound to contradict it, not only in content, but in spirit.

Hello...Britain? Is anyone paying attention over there?

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