London, June 29 (ANI): At least 85 Islamic Sharia courts are currently operational across the UK, a new probe has revealed.
The Westminster-based think-tank Civitas found that Muslim clerics have been handing out hundreds of Sharia judgments - known as fatwas - through mosques around the country.
The probe raises serious concerns about a spreading secretive network, which in future can intensify calls for the Sharia to be recognized by the British legal establishment.
"It is a challenge to what we believe to be the rights and freedoms of the individual, to our concept of a legal system based on what Parliament enacts and to the right of all to live in a society as free as possible from ethnic-religious division," The Daily Express quoted the report's author, Denis MacEoin, as saying.
Earlier, it was estimated that only five Sharia courts were operating in Britain in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton.
But informed sources within Muslim communities told MacEoin that the figure was at least 85. He said the courts are concentrated in urban areas with high Muslim populations, such as the West Midlands.
According to his research, rulings carried out included: Banning women from marrying non-Muslims, approving a man marrying up to four wives, depriving non-Muslim relatives of inheritance, denying divorced women property rights, banning women from leaving home without husband's consent and severe punishment for homosexuals.
MacEoin opines that Islamic rulings were incompatible with human rights and British tradition and called for Sharia courts to be excluded from recognition under arbitration laws.
"Sharia courts are, in practice, part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation, backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat," said David Green, director of Civitas. (ANI)