Saturday, October 11, 2008

'The Gathering Storm'--The Sequel

Speaking of the Sharia Express, the UK is off to a roaring start on its Rush Hour Commute to Hell, “with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.” (“Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts”).

According to the London TimesOnline,

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

This is justified by using the UK’s Arbitration Act, which gives the rulings of arbitration tribunals the power of law, provided both parties in a dispute agree to be bound by the agreement. This is the brainchild of Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the new sharia courts.

But arbitration, which has been around for years, has only ever been used to resolve civil matters, like private lawsuits, business disputes, contract disputes, and the like, and not criminal matters. Arbitration has not been used to resolve criminal issues, because one party is the government, and consequently has the police power to enforce the most fundamental civil rights recognized by the nation.

But the new sharia courts in the UK, naturallement, are the exception.

. . .Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.

It has also emerged that tribunal courts have settled six cases of domestic violence between married couples, working in tandem with the police investigations.

We know from looking at “BRIDGE” programs what Muslims “working with the police” means. It means the police only act with Muslim leaders' permission. And now that the sharia courts have the enforcement power of British law, it means the cops have to enforce sharia decisions. Or, at least until the British get acclimated, at least drop criminal investigations after sharia courts have spoken.

Siddiqi said he expected the courts to handle a greater number of “smaller” criminal cases in coming years as more Muslim clients approach them. “All we are doing is regulating community affairs in these cases,” said Siddiqi, chairman of the governing council of the tribunal.

Domestic violence case are criminal matters. Since they have to do with violence, they can range anywhere from simple assault to murder. How’s that working out so far in the UK?

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.

Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.

Or, abusive husbands are given a second chance, while their wives are pressured by the larger community--or by naked fear-- to drop the matter.

I know, I know: why would any battered wife ever withdraw her domestic complaint against her husband--unless it was a completely free, voluntary decision, free of duress or fear?

But it's not only in criminal matters that the sharia courts are reaching disturbing decisions. They also apply a starkly different standard in civil matters.

There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men.

Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In other words, the sharia courts do no apply British laws on inheritance, or provide what we over here call “equal protection under the law,” a principle we got originally from Great Britain. (Not to mention that these sharia rulings are discriminatory based on sex). No government agency, private employer, or any other private contract in the UK could discriminate this way without breaking discrimination laws.

The thing of it is, just because parties agree to arbitration doesn’t mean they get to make up their own laws. Wherever in the West arbitration is used it’s spelled out clearly which jurisdiction's civil laws--whether of the state, province, principality, or nation--will be applied in resolving the dispute. If the civil law forbids usurious interest on a contract, the arbitrator can’t legally award a usurious interest. If the civil law forbids applying an unlawful discriminatory standard, the arbitrator cannot legally apply a discriminatory standard. It's illegal everywhere in the UK.

But once again, Islam has carved out an exception for itself.

The UK sharia courts have already accomplished a true parallel system, official recognition of a separate system of law based on the Koran that does not afford the protections of the British Constitution--nor even respect them. And that is exactly what the Muslim leaders had in mind when they gouged out this chink for Islam.

That parallel system means if you’re a woman and you have the misfortune to be born into a segment of the British Muslim community controlled by such sharia courts, you can’t expect the same civil rights against violence, disinheritance, or any other discrimination that a British nonMuslim woman enjoys.

It also means that one legal system is mortally cracked, like a failing dam, and against it presses a sharia system with the force of an ocean.

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