Legal Expert: European Court Ruling Could Open Door to Sharia in EU

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French legal expert Gregor Puppinck has said that a recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling in Greece could open up the door for limited aspects of Islamic sharia law to be adopted in Europe.

Puppinck, who serves as director of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and is a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Panel of Experts on Freedom of Conscience and Religion, said that the ECHR ruling in Greece earlier this month runs counter to a previous judgement in 2003 that found sharia incompatible with “the fundamental principles of democracy,” Le Figaro reports.

The new ruling followed a case in which a Muslim woman in the Greek region of Thrace was deprived of her inheritance of her dead husband’s estate due to an application of sharia law which has been allowed in the region since the 1920s, despite his will naming her as his beneficiary.

Greek courts ruled the will to be void and determined the process be done under sharia law which led the ECHR to rule against the forced application of sharia in the case but not the use of sharia itself.

The ECHR instead spoke of the conditions for sharia law in Europe saying that countries could allow the parallel legal system if sharia is optional and not forced on Muslims and it does not run counter to “important public interests.”

Puppinck slammed the ruling saying it would open the door for pro-sharia political parties, such as the Islam Party in Belgium, to advocate for sharia law to act as though they were defending human rights by advocating for it.

“In law, as in the stock market, the value of values fluctuates. Facing them, however, sharia seems to enjoy great stability,” he said.

While sharia courts exist in very few countries in Europe, the French government was accused of using sharia principles to determine housing benefits for Muslims earlier this year.

In Sweden, a court was also accused of using sharia as a guide in a case where two lay judges found a man innocent of abusing his spouse because she came from a bad family, while he came from a good one. The lay judges also questioned the woman’s credibility asking why the woman had gone directly to the police instead of trying to solve the issue within the local Muslim community.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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