The British government is to launch an investigation into UK Sharia courts as part of its counter-extremism strategy after fears they are engaging in “discriminatory” practices.
Lord Bates, who serves as Minister for Criminal Information in the Home Office, told the House of Lords that Islamic law may be being applied in an “unacceptable” way in Britain.
Responding to a written question from the Bishop of St Albans, Lord Bates said: “Sharia councils may be working in a discriminatory and unacceptable way.
“That is why, as part of the forthcoming counter-extremism strategy, [the] Government will commission a full, independent investigation to assess to what extent Sharia is being applied in a manner that is unacceptable.
“The review will commence following the appointment of an independent chair.
“The Terms of Reference for the review and its duration will be determined at that point.
“We will act on any evidence of its application which is outside of the law.”
Home Secretary Theresa May raised the idea of investigating Sharia courts in March, but the proposal did not form part of the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, The Express says.
In July, Breitbart London reported how Amra Bone, Britain’s first female Sharia court judge, said the government “cannot ask Muslims not to have more than one wife”. Her comments came as The Times revealed up to 100,000 couples were living in Sharia marriages, which are not valid under UK law.
Islamic lawyer Aina Khan said that up to a quarter of these unions were polygamous and that as these unions exist outside UK law they contained none of the safeguards of legal marriage. It is therefore easier for Sharia courts to discriminate against women when dividing assets in divorce cases.
However, Mrs Bone denied that Sharia courts were discriminatory. “We apply Sharia principles within the law of the land,” she said. “We are a voluntary body and can’t make orders – we just advise. People don’t want us to be judgemental.”