Concerns over the inquiry into Sharia Councils must not be dismissed
- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On July 22, 2016
- 0 Comments
My piece on the Theresa May inquiry into Sharia Councils published on Sedaa on 21 July:
Over 200 women’s rights campaigners and organisations recently signed a public letter to Theresa May criticising the government inquiry into Sharia councils chaired by Mona Siddiqui.
Whilst a review into Sharia bodies and their impact on gender equality and justice is long overdue, we are concerned that the review is focusing on “best practice” when the issue is not “moderate” versus “extreme” Sharia law but women’s rights.
Siddiqui’s inquiry erroneously begins with the premise that Sharia “courts” have a role to play in governing private and family matters of black and minority women. We argue that this is a capitulation to Islamist and conservative forces who wish to ensure that the needs and identity of minority women are addressed only through the prism of conservative religious values of which they are the sole arbiters.
By assuming that Sharia “courts” have a role to play in women’s rights, the inquiry is saying that minority women are members of their so-called religious communities and not independent persons with citizenship and human rights.
Also, the inquiry panel is itself of concern. The chair, Mona Siddiqui, is a theologian. One of the other three panellists, High Court Judge Mark Hedley, is also Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool. Two imams are panel advisors: Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi calls women dressed in western clothing “corrupt” and promotes honour-shaming; Qari Muhammad Asim trivialises domestic violence. Some of their statements are available here.
Responding to press attention, Mona Siddiqui has rejected our concerns repeatedly calling campaigners “arrogant”. She has also said that Imams are necessary advisors because “they have the ear of the community”.