A practicing Crown Court Judge has been allowed to simultaneously sit on a Sharia court for the first time. The judge concerned came to the public’s attention last year, after convicting a Christian preacher for quoting a passage of the bible.
Shamim Qureshi, a District Judge who sits at Bristol Crown Court, has received permission from the Judicial Office to also sit as “presiding judge” at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT).
MAT was established in 2007 by hardline cleric Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, who has demand all “Islamophobic” literature is banned. As reported by Breitbart London, he led a thousand-strong, gender-segregated march against the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine, after a Muslim murdered 11 of their journalists.
In December 2015, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered an independent inquiry into Sharia courts in Britain, including MAT, which have been accused of discriminating against women.
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, told the Telegraph: “I would be careful if I was a judge not to mix the two jobs. I don’t think an Islamic legal system is compatible with British law.”
MAT became the first Sharia court in the UK to have genuine power under British law in 2008, when it gained legal status under the 1996 Arbitration Act, such that other courts can enforce its rulings.
According to the tribunal’s website, it specialises in Islamic divorce, inheritance law and Islamic wills, family meditation and mosque dispute resolution. It has been repeatedly accused of discriminating against women.
The court has handled documented cases of domestic violence in which female victims were persuaded to withdraw complaints to the police and pursue “reconciliation” with their husbands, who were offered “anger management” courses. It has also awarded women less inheritance than men.
There are no suggestions that Judge Qureshi, who has been a judge since 2004, has been involved in any controversial Sharia tribunal decisions.
However, he caused outrage and courted controversy in March 2015 for convicting Mike Overd, a Christian street preacher, for quoting Leviticus 20:13 in Taunton, Somerset. The verse condemns homosexuality and has been described as “homophobic”.
The preacher accused Judge Qureshi of “censorship” and “redacting” the bible. The conviction was quashed on appeal last month.