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Soon Coming to a Neighborhood near You

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Ursula Siebert

Widely unnoticed here in the States, ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with Shari'ah courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases. The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for Shari'ah judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Back in 2008 it was first reported that the most reverend Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the world -s Anglicans, opined that the introduction of Shari'ah Law into the British legal system seemed to be unavoidable. Williams said adopting parts of Islamic Shari'ah Law could help "social cohesion.' A question then was and remains now:   How can a Western democracy embrace or even tolerate a law that is the total opposite of our legal system in the West defying Human Rights?

A few months later, as of January 2009, it was applied and 85 Shari'ah courts have been approved officially by the government and in operation since. The British population, however, rejected the acceptance of Shari'ah law by 96%.

What is wrong with Shari'ah law? Or should one ask: What isn't wrong with Shari'ah law?

Here are some examples of what Shari'ah courts do: Among the recent rulings by British Shari'ah tribunals, operating principally from mosques:

No Muslim woman may marry a non-Muslim man; children of such women should be taken from her until she marries a Muslim;

Polygamous marriages are approved, and enforced is a woman's duty to have sex with her husband upon his demand;

Male children belong to the father after the age of seven, regardless of circumstances;

In inheritance disputes sons receive twice the property value as daughters.  In English law, the shares would be equal;

Male domestic violence assailants are ordered to take anger management classes and to talk to community elders.  The female victims are expected to withdraw complaints made to police.

No doubt women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favors men.

The application of Shari'ah law marks the beginnings of a "parallel legal system" for some British citizens, Muslims; or a society otherwise bound to the rule of law is caving in to the medieval demands of a religious minority.

The gender norms of such societies are fully repugnant to humanists. But the problem is less the existence of Shari'ah courts (actually arbitration panels) than of the oppression itself, the problem of women suffering oppression at home.

If an immigrant woman is in a marriage where she is under the full weight of Muslim oppression of women, and even though she has a (perfectly legitimate) complaint, she is no more free to seek redress in the regular civil courts of the country where she lives than she is to seek arbitration under Shari'ah law. All that being said, it appears full scale mental illness on the part of any civil government to let any religious group conduct binding arbitration.

Here in the US -"according to legal advisers "- you can't very well prevent voluntary non-binding arbitration, if you have freedom of speech and assembly, but voluntary non-binding arbitration is really just advice-seeking. In most U.S. states, if not all, binding arbitration can be conducted only by certified arbitrators, usually active or retired attorneys, who are chosen by the parties from a list maintained by the civil court. For the most part, any contract can provide that disputes must be submitted to binding arbitration.

But in the final analysis, if two people go to arbitration, and one wins an award, and the other doesn't abide by it, you still have to go through the enforcement or execution process provided by the civil courts. No arbitration forum has subpoena powers, or contempt powers, or sheriffs to execute judgment.

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Ursula Siebert, originally a German teacher & lecturer turned businesswoman, lived in different European countries before coming to the USA. She is now a free-lance writer. Often tongue-in-cheek, she sees life and politics in the USA from the (more...)
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