UK Lawyers, Human Rights Activists Launch 'Sharia Watch' Org to Monitor UK Islamism
British lawyers have today launched a new organisation called 'Sharia Watch' – monitoring the intrusion of Islamic law into British society, what the organisation calls 'Britain's Blind Spot'.
The organisation, led by former Labour Party candidate Anne Marie Waters claims that it "seeks to highlight and expose those movements in Britain which advocate and support the advancement of sharia law in British society.
The group, which is working closely with the Lawyers Secular Society, is thought to be a response to the news that Britain's Law Society is now offering guidance for Sharia law in Britain. Last month Britain's lawyers' group, of which membership is mandatory, issued guidance on how to use Sharia law in Wills, Trusts and Estates disputes in England and Wales.
Sharia Watch claims that the treatment of women, freedom of speech, finance, and the marketplace are of great concern where Sharia Law is involved.
One of the organisation's launch documents provides briefing material on a number of Islamic organisations operating in Britain today, claiming it is seeking "to inform both the British public and our elected representatives of the true beliefs and political philosophy of various 'mainstream' Islamic organisations in the UK".
The report criticises the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK's most prominent Islamic organisation. It states that the MCB "has received several hundred thousand pounds of taxpayers’ money, despite evidence of its links with extremists and its own extremist beliefs" and goes as far as to say that "Sharia Watch UK believes that the MCB is itself an extremist organisation."
Other organisations listed include the Islamic Sharia Council, the Muslim Association of Britain, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, the Cordoba Foundation, the British Muslim Initiative, the Green Lane Mosque, the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre, the Islamic Forum of Europe, iEngage, the Islam Channel, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, the London Central Mosque (Regent’s Park Mosque) and others.
Waters writes that women are particularly at risk due to Sharia law, specifically noting "areas of concern" including "underage marriage, domestic violence, divorce and child custody, and the value of women’s testimony during family law hearings." She notes that an investigation last year revealed several major mosques across the UK which had shown a willingness to marry underage girls.
Britain is also taking strides to introduce more Sharia-compliant financial products, which the organisation criticises as "promoted by and associated with Islamic Extremists". Sharia Watch notes that "the ban on interest is a modern radical interpretation of the Qur’an. Muslims throughout history have borrowed and lent money with interest. The idea that this is banned in the Quran is a modern fundamentalist interpretation."
Finally, the website states of halal food: "It is our belief that funds from the halal industry are being used by Islamist groups to enhance the power of sharia law in Britain and around the world."
"Sharia Watch UK believes that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that halal funds are, at least in part, helping to fund Islamist terrorism globally."
Waters writes on her website: "I am, and have always been, very clear; sharia tribunals represent a severe infringement of the basic civil rights of women, they have far overstepped the boundaries of arbitration, they are acting unlawfully, and they must be closed down."
The organisation is said to have the support of various high profile individuals including Baroness Caroline Cox, a cross-bench peer and human rights activist.