Sanam writes: Aren’t Sharia courts in Britain only dealing with civil matters?

Maryam Namazie responds: Of course the Sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are not sentencing people to death by stoning for sex outside of marriage or hanging apostates like myself from cranes in Trafalgar Square. That is – according to Suhaib Hasan, one of the ‘judges’ at these Sharia courts or councils and a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, the job of Islamic states. This, however, doesn’t mean that he can’t dream: ‘Once just only once if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all. We want to offer it to the British society… If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don’t accept it they’ll need more and more prisons.’

Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, we are told that we need not worry. Ibrahim Mogra of the MCB says the Sharia councils only cover ‘small aspects of Sharia for Muslim families when they choose to be governed with regards to their marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children and so forth.’ Mogra implies that those who avail themselves of Sharia law will ‘choose’ to do so. It is interesting how pro-women’s ‘choices’ the political Islamic movement becomes when it is vying for power and influence in the west.

Despite their deceptive claims, in the real world, even ‘small aspects of Sharia’ increase intimidation and threats against the most vulnerable women and girls, deny them rights they have and deserve and leave them hostage in virtual Bantustans at the mercy of the likes of Suhaib Hasan and Anjem Choudary.

And for those rejoicing that Sharia law in the UK is a ‘moderate interpretation,’ I need to remind them that a ‘small aspect’ is not the same as a ‘moderate interpretation.’ As Hasan says to a woman who questions his ruling in one of these kangaroo courts: ‘there is no exception to this rule; in the Sharia there is no exception, you have to accept it.’

Marriage, divorce, child custody may be ‘small aspects’ to Mogra and the Muslim Council of Britain but they are important pillars in the oppression of women living under Islamic law. Much of the struggle for women’s rights has taken shape in countries like Iran against these very aspects.

And by the way, laws are generally meant to safeguard rights not violate them. Many of the laws that Sharia courts aim to avoid have been fought for by progressive movements over centuries in order to improve people’s, women’s and children’s position in society and often vis-à-vis religion in power.

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