Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain met with Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), on 28 June to raise our concerns about sharia courts in Britain and the Charities Commission’s refusal of charity status for secular organisations. Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto was also present at the meeting.

Below is our follow up letter:

Dear Trevor,

Thank you once again for meeting with us. We appreciate your taking the time out to hear about the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All.

Just to highlight a couple of the issues we raised:

On One Law for All and Sharia Law

1) There are currently two major bodies carrying out sharia based arbitration and mediation in the UK – these are the Islamic Sharia Council (a registered charity) and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (operating as an independent tribunal under the powers of the Arbitration Act 1996).

2) Both bodies acknowledge that the bulk of their work is in family matters such as child custody, divorce, domestic violence (both a family law and a criminal law matter). The Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve in 2008 said arbitration in the UK was not intended for family matters.

3) Under sharia family law, a husband’s testimony is worth double that of his wife, children are sent to live with fathers regardless of the circumstances, and women have no right to divorce – even when violence against her is proven (see Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights.

4) Sharia family law has been described as “wholly incompatible” with human rights and democratic principles by the House of Lords.

Last year, Baroness Caroline Cox introduced a Private Members Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Bill to the House of Lords which is due a second reading this October 27th.

A new document compiled by Baroness Cox’s team as evidence to be presented to the Lords can be found here.

On the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s charitable status

As was mentioned, the Council of Ex-Muslims was denied charitable status whilst the Islamic Sharia Council remains a charity. Here are the reasons for refusal and our response, which remains unanswered.

Once again, thank you for agreeing to follow up on our meeting by contacting Baroness Cox, discussing the progress of her Bill, as well as having your legal team look over it. You also agreed to look in more detail at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal and its use of the Arbitration Act 1996, as well as the validity of its agreements in UK Courts and the Islamic Sharia Council’s charitable status along with the Charity Commission’s refusal of charity status for the Council of Ex-Muslims.

Thank you for your support in this vital campaign for human rights and equality. We look forward to working closely with you and your future replacement on these important matters.

Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919 London WC1N 3XX
Telephone: +44(0)7719166731

One Law for All
BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731



  1. The whole criteria on which charitable status is based is desperately in need of an overhaul. The unquestioned assumption that religion automatically operates for the public good is simply unsustainable when subjected to even the slightest scrutiny, and leads to the kind of tortured absurdities laid out in Caroline Jones’s letter.

  2. @Olsi.
    Because those laws are in conflict with the laws of the land they are living in. If all parties to a dispute are happy with Sharia arbitration, then so be it. When it comes to custody and other family matters you may end up with children being denied the protections available to their fellow citizens by the choices of their parents. There is also the familial pressure on women to conform to tradition which may force them into an unfair patriarchal system of arbitration against their will.

    Don’t forget that we are talking about a legal system which sees stoning as a just punishment for relatively minor offences. They can’t get away with that in the UK, but why would any western country tolerate their citizens being subjected to a system of law which practices such barbarism.

    Slightly off topic, it grates to see people in Britain prosecuted for acts such as burning the Koran. It’s intolerant, sure, but nowhere near as intolerant and hateful as some of the contents. And yes, the Old Testament has some pretty nasty stuff in it as well.

  3. I look forward to Trevor Phillips’ response to Maryam and Anne Marie’s letter.

    And Olsi, I doubt that Maryam, I or anyone else commenting here would object to people believing as they see fit, as long as they don’t seek to impose their beliefs on others, whether Christian, Muslim or whatever.

    It is when they do seek to impose those beliefs on others that problems with what they do arise.

    And some do, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, whatever.

    I don’t want to see women having to sit at the back of buses on the say-so of some religious zealots.

    I don’t want to see people having their olive groves burnt down because of zealots who think a chunk of land was given to their ancestors by Yahweh thousands of years ago. I don’t want to see that even if those who get their olive groves burnt are Muslims.

    I don’t want to see people imprisoned or killed for expressing their opinion that there is no God, or for expressing the opinion that the God they believe in is the right one and someone else’s God concept is wrong.

    I am an atheist, insofar as I don’t believe in any God.

    I am an agnostic, insofar as I recognise that I cannot disprove all God concepts any more than I can disprove the solipsism or Last Thursdayism.

    And I am a secularist, insofar as I accept that governments should not favour one religion over another, religion over no religion, or no religion over religion.

    I have as much right to stand up for those values as people have a right to argue for their religious beliefs.

    My problem with your post, Osli, is that I don’t want to interfere with peoples beliefs, but I do want to stop other people imposing their beliefs on others.

    You seem to have no such inhibition.

    David B

  4. Why are you non-Muslim activist so annoying, and aggressive? What is your problem with people who want to believe in their God and follow laws that they believe are right? Why do not you mind your own business but keep on interfering on people’s personal lives instead?

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Why dont we just mind our own business and let the vulnerable be treated unfairly? After all if they’re born in a totalitarian system, we have no responsibility to defend their rights. They’re stuck with it not us. In fact next time someone commits an ‘honor’ killing, forces a woman to marry against her will or just throws in a casual death threat, lets all just step back and let it happen. Whatever happened to slavery? Lets bring that back too!

    2. PS Maryam Namazie is not just a non muslim, she’s an ex muslim. You might not be aware of the amount of suffering caused by such medieval practices but she knows it all too well. I myself was born in “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, a country where you’re considered a second class citizen not only if you’re a non muslim, but also if you don’t belong to the right sect of islam. You can also be sentenced to death if a few muslims claim that you ‘disrespected the prophet’ even verbally. They don’t need to have any other evidence. And if a lawyer tries to defend your case chances are they’ll be killed as well. Do you really want to open the doors to laws like that in Britain?

    3. Why do people think they can go to a foreign land (or one they are born into) and ignore the local laws and impose their own (even when they are in direct contrast and against what the majority want) and get away with it?

      Let’s see how it works in reverse, I go over to Dubai on a work trip, on a night out I decide to drink in public (my right to drink an alcoholic beverage is a law that I believe is right and being a non resident I would not be able to obtain a liquor license)…….. what happens to me then when the local police catch me?

      Can I cry human rights, can I ask for my legal fees to be paid for, do I get a free interpreter? Thought not!

      So may I politely suggest that you pull your head out of your anus, rub the scat from your eyes and show some respect for the majority whom have to put up with ignoramuses like you and are oh so good at being tolerant! Because if they weren’t and if we did not live in a secular society you would not be allowed to practice your beliefs at all.

    4. Are you sarcastic, stupid, or trolling? These people have come into Europe and subverted the ancient and noble secularism of European law, bending the police powers of our states to serve laws which are not right, though they believe they are. We will not accept being made the sentinels of a regime we oppose, nor will we ever stop criticizing things elsewhere that seem destructive and harmful.

  5. Seems like some people in authority have their brains in backwards.

    And Sharia courts adjudicating rape cases? Sometimes I find it extremely odd where the gov of Britain (or any country) decides to let things, unethical or illegal by letter or spirit of the law go on, and where they decide to stick their boots in your face. There seems to be an issue with finding a reasonable and just medium.

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