Sharia courts operating in UK incompatible with Western legislation: Report

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Jerusalem, June 30 (ANI): Islamic Sharia courts operating in the United Kingdom are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation, according to a report.

At least 85 Islamic Sharia courts are currently operational across the UK, a new probe by London based think tank Civitas has revealed.

The Civitas found that Muslim clerics have been handing out hundreds of Sharia judgments known as fatwas through mosques around the country.

The probe has raised serious concerns about a spreading secretive network, which in future could intensify calls for Sharia to be recognized by the British legal establishment.

Denis MacEoin, author of the Civitas report "Sharia Law or One Law For All?" wrote that Sharia rulings contained great potential for controversy and could involve acts contrary to UK legal norms and human rights legislation.

According to MacEoin, the courts operate largely out of mosques, and are closed to independent observers. Thus, it is extremely difficult to find out what goes on in them.

Sharia courts cannot be recognized under Britain's 1996 Arbitration Act, as they claim authority over the private lives of individuals in a way that is contrary to the British tradition.

"Among the rulings, we find some that advise illegal actions and others that transgress human rights standards as applied by British courts," MacEoin wrote.

Examples set out in the study include a ruling that no Muslim woman may marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam, and that any children of a woman who does should be taken from her until she marries a Muslim, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Other rulings approve polygamous marriage and enforce a wife's "duty" to have sex with her husband on demand. n the study, MacEoin reproduces a range of fatwas issued by popular fatwa Web sites, run out of or accessed through mosques in the UK, and in some cases, even from UK Muslim schools.

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. (ANI)

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