På Menneskerettighetsdagen 10. desember lanseres kampanjen «En lov for alle – ingen Sharia» mot Sharialover i Storbritannias Overhus. I kampanjen krever underskriverne at britiske myndigheter erkjenner at Sharialover er inkonsistente og diskriminerende, og at myndighetene setter en stopper for virksomheten til landets offisielt legitimerte Shariadomstoler, samt øvrige religiøse tribunaler, på bakgrunn av at disse jobber mot likeverd og menneskerettigheter.
Den planlagte kampanjen har utbredt støtte, blant annet av organisasjoner som International Humanist and Ethical Union, European Humanist Federation, National Secular Society, Iranian Secular Society og Lawyers Secular Society, samt av privatpersoner som Nick Cohen, Tarek Fatah, Ibn Warraq, Johann Hari, Ayaan Hirsi Ali og Taslima Nasrin.
Kampanjens organisator, Maryam Namazie, sier at det spesielt er kvinner og barn som får sine rettigheter beskåret i Shariadomstolene, og at det angivelige frivillighetsperspektivet bare er et spill for galleriet:
According to campaign organiser, Maryam Namazie, ‘Even in civil matters, Sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children. Moreover, its voluntary nature is a sham; many women will be pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions.
These courts are a quick and cheap route to injustice and do nothing to promote minority rights and social cohesion. Public interest, particularly with regard to women and children, requires an end to Sharia and all other faith-based courts and tribunals.’
The campaign has already received widespread support.
The campaign also calls for the Arbitration Act 1996 to be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.
In the words of the Campaign Declaration:
‘Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.’
Roy Brown, tidligere leder for International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), som det norske Human-etisk Forbund er tilsluttet, sier at IHEU låner sin fulle støtte til kampanjen:
– Det er utålelig at selve verdiene det britiske samfunnet baserer seg på – menneskerettigheter, likeverd og rettstaten – blir underminert av en stille og forrædersk implementering av et lovsystem som ikke har noen basis i likeverd eller rettferdighet.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, which is also supporting the One Law for All campaign, said:
«It is a grave error for the authorities in this country to give credence to Sharia in any form – whether legally or in terms of informal arbitration. When women are being subjected to violence in their marriages, it is not acceptable for religious authorities – which are, by definition, misogynistic – to arbitrate. A two-tier legal system, with women’s rights being always secondary to religious demands, is unnecessary, undesirable and ultimately unjust.»
Underskriftskampanjen er åpen for alle.
Storbritannia er ikke det første landet som har søkt å inngå rettslige kompromisser for å imøtekomme såkalt moderate muslimske organisasjoners krav om særbehandling for muslimer i det eksisterende rettsystemet. I 2004 ble Sharialover forsøkt innført i Canada innen familierett for muslimer. Den liberale organisasjonen Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) og muslimske kvinner var den gangen sentrale i den suksessfylte kampanjen mot innføringen av det parallelle rettsystemet og påfølgende forskjellsbehandling på religiøst grunnlag i Canada.
Argumentene for en offisiell legitimering av Sharialover var for øvrig akkurat de samme som har gjort seg gjeldende i Storbritannia; en tilsynelatende moderat organisasjon, som utad samarbeidet med canadiske myndigheter i integreringsspørsmål, hadde allerede opprettet flere uoffisielle Shariadomstoler som var i full virksomhet i det canadisk-muslimske miljøet.
We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, call on the UK government to bring an end to the use and institutionalisation of Sharia and all religious laws and to guarantee equal citizenship rights for all.
Sharia law is discriminatory
Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are discriminatory, particularly against women and children, and in violation of universal human rights.
Sharia law is unfair and unjust in civil matters
Proponents argue that the implementation of Sharia is justified when limited to civil matters, such as child custody, divorce and inheritance. In fact, it is civil matters that are one of the main cornerstones of the subjugation of and discrimination against women and children.
Under Sharia law a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s; a woman’s marriage contract is between her male guardian and her husband. A man can have four wives and divorce his wife by simple repudiation, whereas a woman must give reasons, some of which are extremely difficult to prove.
Child custody reverts to the father at a preset age, even if the father is abusive; women who remarry lose custody of their children; and sons are entitled to inherit twice the share of daughters.
The voluntary nature of Sharia courts is a sham
Proponents argue that those who choose to make use of Sharia courts and tribunals do so voluntarily and that according to the Arbitration Act parties are free to agree upon how their disputes are resolved.
In reality, many of those dealt with by Sharia courts are from the most marginalised segments of society with little or no knowledge of their rights under British law. Many, particularly women, are pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions.
More importantly, those who fail to make use of Sharia law or seek to opt out will be made to feel guilty and can be treated as apostates and outcasts.
Even if completely voluntary, which is untrue, the discriminatory nature of the courts would be sufficient reason to bring an end to their use and implementation.
Sharia law is a quick and cheap way to injustice
Proponents argue that Sharia courts are an alternative method of dispute resolution and curb legal aid costs. When it comes to people’s rights, however, cuts in costs and speed can only bring about serious miscarriages of justice.
Many of the laws that Sharia courts and religious tribunals aim to avoid have been fought for over centuries in order to improve the rights of those most in need of protection in society.
Sharia law doesn’t promote minority rights and social cohesion
Proponents argue that the right to be governed by Sharia law is necessary to defend minority rights. Having the right to religion or atheism, however, is not the same as having the ‘right’ to be governed by religious laws.
This is merely a prescription for discrimination, inequality and culturally relative rights. Rather than defending rights, it discriminates and sets up different and separate systems, standards and norms for ‘different’ people.
It reinforces the fragmentation of society, and leaves large numbers of people, particularly women and children, at the mercy of elders and imams. It increases marginalisation and the further segregation of immigrant communities. It ensures that immigrants and new arrivals remain forever minorities and never equal citizens.
One law for all
Whilst arbitration tribunals are part of British law, they are subject to such safeguards as are necessary in the public interest. Clearly, public interest, and particularly the interests of women and children, requires an end to Sharia and all faith-based courts and tribunals.
Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.
One Law for All
• We call on the UK government to recognise that Sharia and all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular. Citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.
• We demand an end to all Sharia courts and religious tribunals on the basis that they work against and not for equality and human rights.
• We demand that the Arbitration Act 1996 be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.