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En studie fra den uavhengige tenktetanken Civitas viser at minst 85 sharia-tribunaler er operative i Storbritannia. Det er 17 ganger flere enn den britiske regjeringen opprinnelig ga offisiell anerkjennelse.

Tribunalene opererer hovedsakelig fra moskèer, og avgjør finansielle- og familiespørsmål i henhold til islamsk lov. Sharia-tribunalenes avgjørelser kan oppnå full legal status dersom de blir godkjent av det nasjonale rettssystemet, som i så fall også er forpliktet til å håndheve sharia-tribunalets avgjørelse i saken dersom en eller flere av de involverte nekter å rette seg etter avgjørelsen.

Ikke desto mindre opererer sharia-tribunalene bak stengte dører, de tillater ikke uavhengige observatører, deres avgjørelser er trolig urettferdige mot kvinner og støttes opp av intimidering, skriver Civitias i sin rapport.

Commentators on the influence of sharia law often count only the five courts in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton that are run by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, a body whose rulings are enforced through the state courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act.

But the study by academic and Islamic specialist Denis MacEoin estimates there are at least 85 working tribunals.

The spread of sharia law has become increasingly controversial since its role was backed last year by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice who stepped down last October.

Dr Williams said a recognised role for sharia law seemed ‘unavoidable’ and Lord Phillips said there was no reason why decisions made on sharia principles should not be recognised by the national courts.

I følge Civitas rapport indikeres prinsippene sharia-tribunalene arbeider etter av fatwaer [religiøse dekreter] som blir lagt ut på websider drevet av britiske moskèer.

«Bland disse finner vi noen som tilråder ulovlige handlinger og andre som går på tvers av menneskerettighetsstandarden som gjelder i det britiske rettssystemet» , sier MacEoin.

Eksempler fra hans studie inkluderer en avgjørelse om at ingen muslimske kvinner kan gifte seg med en ikke-muslim medmindre han konverterer til islam, og at hvert barn en kvinne som likevel gjør det får, bør taes fra henne til hun gifter seg med en muslim.

Ytterligere eksempler er godkjenning av polygame ekteskap og insistering på kvinnens plikt til å sex med sin ektemann når han forlanger det.

The report added: ‘The fact that so many sharia rulings in Britain relate to cases concerning divorce and custody of children is of particular concern, as women are not equal in sharia law, and sharia contains no specific commitment to the best interests of the child that is fundamental to family law in the UK.

‘Under sharia, a male child belongs to the father after the age of seven, regardless of circumstances.’

It said: ‘Sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings that are inappropriate to this country because they are linked to elements in Islamic law that are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation.’

The study pointed out that the House of Lords ruled in a child custody case last year that the sharia rules on the matter were ‘arbitrary and discriminatory’.

I en dom fra 2003, sier for øvrig Den europeiske menneskerettsdomstolen i Strasbourg at det er «vanskelig å erklære ens respekt for demokrati og menneskerettigheter samtidig som man støtter et regime basert på sharia, som helt klart avviker fra konvensjonens verdier».

However last year Justice Minister Bridget Prentice told MPs that ‘if, in a family dispute …the parties to a judgment in a sharia council wish to have this recognised by English authorities, they are at liberty to draft a consent order embodying the terms of the agreement and submit it to an English court.

‘This allows judges to scrutinise it to ensure it complies with English legal tenets.’

Decisions from sharia tribunals can be presented to a family court judge for approval with no more detail than is necessary to complete a two page

The sharia courts in the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal are recognised as courts under the Arbitration Act. This law, which covers Jewish Beth Din courts, gives legal powers to a tribunal if all parties involved accept its authority.

The Civitas study said the Islamic courts should no longer be recognised under British law.

Its director Dr David Green said: ‘The reality is that for many Muslims, sharia courts are in practice part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation, backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat.’

Organisasjonen Muslim Council in Britain fordømmer rapporten for å «piske opp hat».

A spokesman said: ‘Sharia councils are perfectly legitimate. There is no evidence they are intimidating or discriminatory against women. The system is purely voluntary so if people don’t like it they can go elsewhere.’

Patrick Mercer, Tory MP for Newark and chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism sub committee, said: ‘We have an established law of the land and a judiciary. Anything that operates otside that system must be viewed with great caution.

‘If crimes are going unreported to police, this will erode the authority of those who have to enforce our law. In a sovereign state there must be one law, and one law only.’

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘Everyone should be deeply concerned about the extent of these courts.

‘They do entrench division in society, and do nothing to entrench integration or community cohesion. It leads to a segregated society.

‘There should be one law, and that should be British law. We can’t have a situation where people can choose which system of law they follow and which they do not.

‘We can’t have a situation where people choose the system of law which they feel gives them the best outcome. Everyone should equal under one law.’

Daily Mail: Britain has 85 sharia courts: The astonishing spread of the Islamic justice behind closed doors

Les også: Sjokkert over sharia-domstoler i UK