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Sharia Law Comes to the U.K.

Via Rod Dreher, Sharia courts, the judgments of which are enforceable through the established legal system, have been established in several British cities.

The emergence of such paradoxically parallel yet established Islamic legal systems is a threat several orders of magnitude more severe than that of mere terrorist attacks, for the latter, by their very barbarity, summon forth resistance and denunciation, while the former, by insinuating themselves into the dense skein of civil society, become parts of society without which it is no longer possible to think of that society. They become, in another paradox, organic, woven into the very tapestry of order, of relationships, of societal customs, their very obscenity enabled by the enfeebling multiculturalist dogmas of our age. The more contradictory, the more monstrous the Other is - if I might paraphrase Lawrence Auster - the more we feel ourselves obliged to incorporate that Other into our civilizational substance.

No war on distant shores will deliver us from this threat; it is a threat that can only be addressed by means of domestic action, domestic reforms. We of the West must change ourselves, and not, as Dick Cheney would have it, change them, because we will not change ourselves.

Comments (79)

Our hollowed-out husk of a culture prefers passively watching a tiny subset of our fellows wage war in far-off places, than embark on the ardous task of self-reform and spiritual renewal. Is it any wonder then, that Islam emerges as the alternative content-provider?

As one commenter put it: Why bother slapping countries trying to develop nukes on the sly when countries that already have them are being culturally and demographically overrun?

It's called arbitration, and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't already exist in the U.S. as well (certainly any attempt to the deny the right of arbitration based on religion would raise First Amendment concerns).

The First Amendment is not a cultural suicide pact.

What I don't understand is why the article initially says that it is only civil cases that are enforced, but goes on to mention criminal complaints that were being investigated. The First Amendment has nothing to do with this, the issue is the proper scope of arbitration decisions.

A state is perfectly free not to allow binding arbitration of private disputes. What it can't do is allow binding arbitration generally with a big asterisk that says "except for Muslims."

FWIW, if such an exclusionary policy ever were adopted and was challenged, I would recommend whichever attorney was hired to defend it shy away from using the "cultural suicide pact" line. A court would not find it terribly persuasive.

Step2, I tend to think the Muslim issue and the scope-of-arbitration issue are related. You just can't get away from it: Jewish rabbis aren't _trying_ or _wanting_ to handle even "smaller" (???) criminal cases. Muslims are always pushing, pushing, pushing that envelope.

Related: I haven't had time to blog it and don't wish to hijack the thread, but there is a school that is _obviously_ a madrassa that has opened as a public, non-sectarian charter school in Minnesota. Somebody blew the whistle and the local public school board got involved. Guess what? The Muslim school leaders are being defiant and taking an "adversarial" stance.

We are just stupid if we pretend that Muslims do things like this just like everybody else does them. They don't. They look for a chink, they put in the wedge, and then they blow the joint wide open.

What it can't do is allow binding arbitration generally with a big asterisk that says "except for Muslims."

Certainly it can do precisely that, provided that it does not espouse some or other egalitarian dogma mandating the equal treatment of groups or entities that are, in fact, distinct. If your point is that, given the assumptions of a generally liberal, multicultural society, we cannot do this - that there are serious pragmatic obstacles to its enactment, well, then there is no disagreement. But if you mean to state that it would be unjust to enact such an exclusion, then I must dissent; no society is obligated, by any ethical principle, to accord equal recognition to groups, subcultures, or entities subversive of its civilizational substance, as Islam manifestly is of most anything Western. It seems to me that these discussions would be less vexing if we could dispense with all of the idle chit-chat about private arbitration and suchlike, which only begs the question of the respective statuses of liberalism (in the general sense in which all modern Western societies are more or less liberal) and Islam. It is senseless to propose that a diverse set of objects be treated equally, before we even settle for ourselves what they actually are.

A court would not find it terribly persuasive.

No doubt. But I'm not interested in the pathologies of the legal system, from which such a determination would issue.

Related: I haven't had time to blog it and don't wish to hijack the thread....

Please do blog it, should you find the time. The real issue here is the foot in the door for the creation of truly parallel legal orders, which is to say, rival sovereignties, which always, sooner or later, engender conflict. You know, where people die.

A state is perfectly free not to allow binding arbitration of private disputes. What it can't do is allow binding arbitration generally with a big asterisk that says "except for Muslims."

I agree there shouldn't be an exception, but that cuts both ways. If they are pushing Sharia law into criminal disputes, that needs to stop immediately. Binding arbitration is appropriate for many civil cases, it is a mechanism for denying state authority and public justice in criminal cases.

if you mean to state that it would be unjust to enact such an exclusion...

I said that such a law would raise First Amendment concerns. One needn't consider violations of the First Amendment to be coterminous with injustice; however, given the impracticality of repealing the First Amendment, it does serve to render your proposal stillborn, so to speak.

If they are pushing Sharia law into criminal disputes, that needs to stop immediately.

Without question.

One needn't consider violations of the First Amendment to be coterminous with injustice; however, given the impracticality of repealing the First Amendment, it does serve to render your proposal stillborn, so to speak.
But we already do this. We wouldn't allow Utah to join the Union until they abandoned polygamy. We wouldn't grant First Amendment protection to a human sacrifice cult, either. Freedom of speech isn't absolute (shouting "fire" in crowded theaters, etc), and neither is freedom of religion.

[back to lurking...]

As far as I know, domestic violence is not considered a civil matter. Please notice that these women withdrew their police complaints after the ruling of the sharia courts. I think anyone who knows even a moderate amount about Islamic mores will realize the potential here for the official status of the sharia courts, combined with the husbands' power over their wives, to be used to pressure them to withdraw criminal complaints with the real police. Do any other civil arbitration courts presume to settle domestic violence complaints? I doubt it very much.

With apologies to Flannery O'Connor, if the First Amendment is just Sharia waiting to blossom, then to Hell with it.

Answer; Harvard Law School, 2011


Question: Which American law school will be the first to incorporate the Islamic Legal Tradition into its curriculum and when?

It seems to me that it would be fairly easy to insert a clause into laws permitting separate private arbitration (enforceable by the public powers) to the effect that no such arbitration shall be recognized and given official status if there is significant reason to believe, given the information available about the context and tradition of the type of arbitration court, a) that people who say that they accept the arbitration voluntarily are likely to be acting under duress, b) that the courts thus established will attempt to interfere in criminal matters and investigations.

Problem solved. Sharia courts are out with no mention of religion necessary. And for good reason, as the most arrant secularist should admit, as both a and b are demonstrably problems with sharia courts. In fact, heck, here are these sharia courts _already_ sticking their noses into criminal cases. Hey, here's another idea: The official status of whole classes of arbitration courts can be withdrawn if it is found after the fact that a or b is a problem.

Could someone explain the following sentence to me?

From this version of the story--

http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=7068

Whereas before rulings by sharia courts in Britain could only be enforced if all parties in a Muslim civil case agreed to abide by them, now what the courts say will be legally binding, backed by county courts or the High Court.

Now, my understanding had been that the whole _point_ of this sort of private arbitration enforced by the public powers was that it came into play only when all parties agreed to be bound by it. I thought that was the deal with the Beth Din courts, too. What does this sentence mean? Is there some provision in British law where you can have some private arbitrator whose rulings are legally binding when the parties to a civil case _haven't_ previously agreed to be bound by them? Or is the sentence just confusedly referring to the fact that if the "court" is not an official arbitrator, people can _back out_ of their previous agreement to be bound by its civil rulings, whereas now that contractual agreement is enforceable?

Whichever way it is, I think it's very important for us to acknowledge that in Muslim culture, there are going to be people who are forced to go along with this and pretend that they are agreeing to it. Muslim marriage declarations and child custody declarations get extremely weird, civil though they be. What's going to happen when some sharia court decides that the parent gets custody who wants to take the girls abroad for mutilation, even though that is known in advance?

I cannot answer that question, but it appears to me, on the basis of the grammar - which, admittedly, may not be much to go on - that the Sharia courts will possess binding authority, enforceable by established British courts, regardless of the wishes of the parties. In other words, the consent of all of the parties to have the case heard by the Sharia court may not even be necessary; this may be a case of straightforward communal deference, in which, for example, your hypothetical father could drag his wife to court over a little excursion to East Africa for their daughters, even without the wife's consent. That seems to me the natural reading - even if one party does not consent to the Sharia court's deliberations, that's tough, because the decision will be enforceable.

Is there some provision in British law where you can have some private arbitrator whose rulings are legally binding when the parties to a civil case _haven't_ previously agreed to be bound by them?

In other words, as I read it, yes, there are now such courts of arbitration - the Sharia courts - and that this distinguishes them from the Jewish courts. I could be mistaken, of course, given the ambiguities of the reporting; but the trendlines are negative.

If that's true, then people should definitely stop saying, "This is just arbitration. Anybody can do it. You can always agree with somebody else to have a mutually agreeable party arbitrate your dispute."

I continue to maintain that even if the sentence in the story is misleading and the consent of the parties ostensibly is required, this will be abused and men will drag their wives/daughters into court and tell them, "Sign here that you consent," and no one will challenge it. The mention of the women who withdrew their domestic violence complaints was a very bad sign. Is it really plausible that these men beat their wives to the point that they went to the police and then that the women were _happy_ to withdraw the complaint because the sharia court ordered the husband to take anger management classes? Not to me. To me it sounds more like the women were told by somebody-or-other, "Now that the sharia court is dealing with it, that's it."

That's precisely how these courts will function, in practice: deference to community leaders, meaning, mainly, Imams and other interested individuals, those committed to Islamic orthodoxy, will conceal a multitude of coercions and injustices. The British hope to purchase a measure of social peace - improbable in the short term, impossible beyond - by means of the suffering of such victims. Let's at least, we in the West, be honest about what the Brits are doing: it's the holocaust of the particular, the sacrifice of the individual to the totality.

Or, to be really blunt about it, and really explicit, the Brits are practicing an explicitly pagan politics of sacrifice.

I'm astonished if British law has a loophole for _openly_ establishing parallel systems of justice that don't require the consent of the parties for arbitration. That would be one heck of a loophole. But it's possible. And I don't know how much it will matter in practice, as we've just said.

I'm not sure people who think this is hunky dory have the slightest idea of what this means. We don't even have to get to talking about stoning people or chopping off the hands of thieves. We can just stick with divorce, marriage, and custody:

--In Islamic law, a man can divorce his wife at will just by saying, "Talaq" three times. He gets the kids and all the property.

--Sharia courts have acted at the behest of families to declare "divorces" between married couples *against the will of both husband and wife* because one or the other family disapproved of the match. (The Montagues and the Capulets would be proud.)

--Sharia courts have ruled that daughters be given in marriage to members of one family as reparation for the wrong-doing of the daughters' male relatives.

As I've stated, the article makes it sound as though the Brits have done precisely that - established a parallel and coercive legal system. But even if I'm mistaken, it doesn't much matter whether or not they've done this de jure, because the nature of communal relations between the Brits and the Muslims entaisl that they have done it de facto. Rowan Williams must be proud.

Lydia,

Consider a parallel cases. Contracts are voluntary agreements. No one is forced to enter a contract against their will, or if they are, the contract is null and void. On the other hand, contracts are binding agreements, enforceable by the state.

Is there a contradiction here? Of course not. Contracts are voluntary; and a person is free to either enter or not enter into a contract as he or she so pleases. But once entered into contracts are generally binding, and one cannot get out of a contract simply because one doesn't want to be bound by it anymore.

The same is true for binding arbitration. Whether a person chooses to have a dispute heard by a particular arbitrator is up to him. But if he does agree to have his dispute heard by an arbitrator and then doesn't like the outcome, he can't simply take his dispute into court to have it reheard unless he can show that his agreement to arbitrate was not made voluntarily or was otherwise void. That, at least, is how it works under American law, and from what I can tell the British system is no different.

There has been a lot of talk here about how Muslim women may feel pressured not to file complaints against their husbands with the civil courts. This is a reasonable concern. But it is not clear to me how this concern would be addressed by not allowing arbitration. Presumably the pressure and intimidation used against Muslim women to keep them from going to the civil courts would continue to exist even if there were no provision in British law for binding arbitration. And, as I noted above, courts generally will not enforce the rulings of an arbitrator unless they believe that the agreement to arbitrate was made voluntarily, so it's not as if allowing such arbitration ties the court's hands in the type of situation being contemplated.

"Question: Which American law school will be the first to incorporate the Islamic Legal Tradition into its curriculum and when?"


Georgetown Law had such a course when I was there between 2003-2005. They also had a course on Canon Law. No one was required to take either.

"Georgetown Law had such a course when I was there between 2003-2005. They also had a course on Canon Law. No one was required to take either."

One day, one will be required, and it will be the works of Ebu’s-su`ud, not Justinian I dominating the syllabus.



Whether a person chooses to have a dispute heard by a particular arbitrator is up to him.

One question being raised here, Blackadder, by the very terms of one of the articles on this subject, is whether this is actually true of these sharia courts or whether such "arbitration" can be called upon without even the *putative* consent of both parties.

Furthermore, I think you are naive in your assumption that if there is supposed consent there will be a way later to discover that it was not given voluntarily. You seem to have no idea of the way in which this will be used. Going to the police or to the secular law was always at least in theory a last resort for wives and daughters before. With the new official status of the sharia courts, *even if* the arbitration is ostensibly voluntarily agreed to in the first place, there will be a very strong communication to the more powerless that it's all over at this point. "You 'agreed', remember. Now no one will listen to you." You can say all you like that this isn't so, but I say this is how it will work, and this will be different from the way it was before the recognition of the sharia courts. A door has been closed.

I don't understand what objection there could possibly be, even from a "liberal" perspective, to my proposal above: Put an exception clause into arbitration laws to the effect that particular arbitration tribunals will not be given official status or will have that status withdrawn if there is substantial reason to fear that persons in the community in question will be coerced or that the court in question will interfere in criminal cases. The open interference of the sharia courts in domestic violence ought to be enough to shut them down already as _obviously_ not being in line with the purely civil case intent of the tribunal law already in place, but this could be made explicit.

One question being raised here, Blackadder, by the very terms of one of the articles on this subject, is whether this is actually true of these sharia courts or whether such "arbitration" can be called upon without even the *putative* consent of both parties.

I addressed this issue in what I said above. Simply repeating the question is no response.

I don't understand what objection there could possibly be, even from a "liberal" perspective, to my proposal above: Put an exception clause into arbitration laws to the effect that particular arbitration tribunals will not be given official status or will have that status withdrawn if there is substantial reason to fear that persons in the community in question will be coerced or that the court in question will interfere in criminal cases.

If the British courts really are as feckless as you suppose, why do you think that the inclusion of such a clause would result in the Islamic arbitrators being shut down?

First, no, I think you still don't understand the question, Blackadder, so let me try again: The wording of the sentence I quoted above is naturally taken to mean that the parties involved *don't both have to agree to the arbitration even in the first place* but rather that the sharia courts operate like ordinary civil courts which can be called in unilaterally by a single party who brings a civil suit. If this is true de jure rather than simply de facto, then as far as I know this treatment of sharia courts goes far beyond ordinary private arbitration, to which (as you said) both parties must at least putatively contractually agree. I don't know how much clearer I can be. I'm wondering if the article is just giving a misimpression here or if sharia courts really are receiving this shockingly exalted status in the UK.

Second, I would favor a legal set-up where suit can be brought in regular civil court by any citizen to oppose the granting of tribunal status to a court or to rescind it on the basis of provisions in the law. Thus interested third parties could try to get, as it were, the licenses pulled from arbitration tribunals by gathering data to show that coercion is taking place or that they are interfering with criminal cases. In this case, the sharia courts are positively _boasting_ of interference in criminal cases, so even without proof of coercion, it should be an open and shut case. There should have been an opportunity for the people of Britain to challenge the granting of official status to the sharia courts in the first place, and if necessary that opportunity should be provided for by statutory law, since statutory law is being used to grant the sharia courts this status.

"One day, one will be required, and it will be the works of Ebu’s-su`ud, not Justinian I dominating the syllabus."

Highly doubtful. The overwhelming majority of law school classes are optional.

Generally, the only required courses are the core "common law" areas that the American colonies adopted in the early colonial period (property, criminal, torts, contracts) as well as constitutional law and civil/criminal procedure. There are a couple that are strongly suggested - tax, evidence, ethics, and corporations.

Everything else is essentially flexible.

The only way that Sharia would be taught in an American law school as part of its mandatory curriculum would be if (just guessing here):

1. a Muslim affiliated American law school opened up.
2. Sharia showed up on the state bar exam.
3. Sharia became a dominant part of American law, equal that of the constitution itself.

Of the three, #1 would probably be the most likely, but still very remote.

Correction - I think in most school, Legal Ethics is now mandatory, not strongly suggested.

The wording of the sentence I quoted above is naturally taken to mean that the parties involved *don't both have to agree to the arbitration even in the first place* but rather that the sharia courts operate like ordinary civil courts which can be called in unilaterally by a single party who brings a civil suit.

It could be read that way. Perhaps this is even the more "natural" way to read the sentence. But it doesn't have to be read that way. And given that reading the sentence in the way you propose requires the policy in question to be a radical departure both from the ordinary practice of arbitration law and from good sense, it seems a little paranoid to insist on such a reading.

One day, one will be required, and it will be the works of Ebu’s-su`ud, not Justinian I dominating the syllabus.

I hate to break it to you, but the works of Justinian I don't dominate the syllabuses of law schools now. You'd be lucky if his name was even mentioned once in passing in your typical required law school course.

Silly fools. Your decadent society has been looking for death, and death has now found you. 21st Century Britain, infected with Islamic AIDS.

Put an exception clause into arbitration laws to the effect that particular arbitration tribunals will not be given official status or will have that status withdrawn if there is substantial reason to fear that persons in the community in question will be coerced

This is answered in part as Blackadder pointed out - anyone can challenge in the state court whether an arbitration agreement is void based upon duress. It would be on a case-by-case basis as opposed to some general audit of the tribunal's performance. Most states require arbitrators to be licensed/registered, so I suppose the tribunal (or individual arbitrator) could be scrutinized at that stage for unusual practices.

See Melanie Phillips and my article at Pajamas Media for a rather less hysterical treatment of this subject.

These Sharia "courts" have no official status over and above any other form of arbitration. Both parties must agree, and any decision must accord with English law. Criminal matters are not covered.

Regarding the women who withdrew their complaint of assault, sadly this happens all too often in domestic violence cases. The police cannot pursue the case if the woman withdraws her complaint, for whatever reason. This has nothing to do with the authority - or lack of it - of the sharia "court", which has no jurisdiction over such matters.

Nevertheless, Lydia articulates very well the dangers of such rulings: whether legally binding or not - and a ruling that a husband is allowed to beat his wife is certainly not - they may have considerable persuasive force over Muslim women, who are brought up, and coerced, to accept their lot. But they have no legal force.

Lament, or celebrate, the demise of Britain if you must. But get the facts right.

"1. a Muslim affiliated American law school opened up.
2. Sharia showed up on the state bar exam.
3. Sharia became a dominant part of American law, equal that of the constitution itself."

Procedural liberalism is the means by which a host culture, soaked in self-repudiation and esprit jouissance, liberates itself from memory, identity and all the burdens of existence.

I'm sticking with my prediction; Harvard Law will be the first school to make the transition. Georgetown might be the first though to replace their chapel with a mosque. Sharianara, post-Christian man.

"...but the works of Justinian I don't dominate the syllabuses of law schools now."

No kidding. Such will not be the case, in my little breakway, libertarian-free, Catholic republic in Northern Quebec, Canon Law will, along with the Sermon of the Mount, form the basis for our legal system.

C Matt, I still think my idea is better. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that's what was needed here. Moreover, my idea does not depend so crucially upon the testimony of some one particular woman, willing to risk death (and yes, that is what it often comes to) from her family based on standing up and saying she was put under duress in order to void some one particular sharia court's judgement. Finally, as even Step2 (no conservative, though I have grave suspicions that he is a lawyer :-)) pointed out, the intrusion into criminal law is _egregiously_ outrageous, legally, and does not square with the claim that this is just ordinary arbitration. Classes of tribunals should be prevented from receiving official status when such intrusion can be shown likely.

"We of the West must change ourselves"

Wow, I blogged very much along these same lines, today.

"The very fact of the existence of the U.S. gave hope to millions living behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. It wasn't our M-16s and Minuteman missiles that inspired them and gave them comfort, it was the fact that our citizens could move from one place to another without permission, we could criticize our leaders publicly with no fear of suddenly disappearing, we could choose our own career, open a shop, write a book... It was our freedom combined with hard work and moral responsibility that made the U.S. an existential danger to dictators and despots the world over. We didn't need to spread Democracy at the point of a sword. We spread it by living it out in a way that inspired admiration."

Lydia,
Slander and defamation! How could you make such a terrible accusation? :)

"These Sharia "courts" have no official status over and above any other form of arbitration."

Small consolation. The courts serve as; tools for social coercion within their own communities, subversive displays of Moslem self-assertion, and the prelude to establishing more "no-go zones" within the land of the kafirs.

Count me as one who laments the passing of Great Britain. It is not the same nation as the one that
bravely defied Hitler.

Count me as one who laments the passing of Great Britain. It is not the same nation as the one that
bravely defied Hitler.

Yawn. That old chestnut. Well, at least you're not doing the other standard American thing of claiming we were wimps in the war too, until the good ol' US of A came along and saved our sorry "asses".

You almost certainly have arbitration in the USA, which, unless it is specifically prohibited from doing so, must allow Sharia provided it is compatible with US law. Therefore you have exactly the same thing, but keep quiet about it.

Abraham Lincoln would be turning in his grave, etc etc.

"until the good ol' US of A came along and saved our sorry "asses"."

You're on your own this time.

"Therefore you have exactly the same thing, but keep quiet about it."

The emergence of an alternative, Islamic legal system here will meet far greater resistance from our Christian remnant, than is the case in the U.K.


I think we absolutely _must_ factor in here the evidence that already the police in the UK are far too deferent to the Muslim community. There was, for example, the case of the girl who broke a window to break out of her parents' house and ran to the police for help. Her case was shrugged off by the (female) officers to whom she spoke, and she was told she was lucky not to get in trouble for breaking a window. She recorded on her cell phone the prediction that her family would kill her. Eventually her father and uncles murdered her by stomping on her throat for over an hour, stuffed her body in a suitcase, and buried it in the yard of an abandoned house. They've been convicted of her murder. There are other stories to the effect that there are already so many Affirmative Action Muslims in the UK police and social services systems that even women whose cases ostensibly are taken seriously are sometimes betrayed (that is, their location is betrayed) to their families by those who are supposedly helping them. There was the case I cited here of the Baptist missionaries who were chased away by police from a "Muslim area" for preaching. The Muslim police officer told them it was a "hate crime," and he was backed up by his non-Muslim colleague, who told them to leave. The MUslim "community officer" told them that if they came back and got beaten up, they had been warned, an implicit threat that they would receive no police protection in that case. There was a case of a fight between two young men where one was injured (I believe, knifed, but don't have the link), and the police dropped the investigation on the grounds that the "community was taking care of it" after a sharia court ruled that the knifer pay compensation. Some social workers do not press on issues of forced marriage and girls' taken abroad for genital mutilation for fear of offending the Muslim communities.

I think we have our heads in the sand if we do not realize that the granting of official status to sharia courts will only exacerbate this problem of police and social services' deference, particularly since the courts are already interfering in criminal matters.

You're on your own this time.

We were on our own last time until 1941 when the US was attacked. That was the only reason you fought in the war, not out of some altruistic wish to save us. (And the weapons you sold us boosted your then flagging economy.) Fair enough - all countries act in their own interests - just drop the holier than thou attitude.

I rather wish our blood hadn't been shed in your wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

granting of official status to sharia courts

They have no more official status than any other form of arbitration, and no more, almost certainly than they have in the US, if, in the US arbitration is legal and does not explicitly exclude sharia. At least we have critical press that draws attention to these things so we don't kid ourselves.

Take the plank out of your own eye.

Mary, I mourn the state of the West and fear the U.K. is not so much the canary in the coal mine, as the disease-racked corpse rendering a terrifying autopsy for its survivors. Instead of a pub-fight over WWII, I think our energies should be devoted towards redeeming all that we can against the red-rimmed tide.

Mary, I think we need to distinguish between the potential for this kind of problem in the U.S. and its actual existence. I have yet to see evidence that any ruling of a sharia court in the U.S. has actually been enforced under arbitration statutes by U.S. civil courts. Still more crucially, I have yet to see evidence that U.S. police have backed out of a criminal case after a ruling for compensation by a sharia court on the grounds that "the community is taking care of it." And I have yet to see any declaration by any chief justice or whatever in the U.S. to the effect that sharia court rulings are enforceable under U.S. law as mere private arbitration. In other words, I can see that there could be the potential for the problem here but I don't think it's gone as far here as it has there in terms of the actual application.

Here's an interesting point: We're supposed to be reassured by the claim that such arbitration groups cannot rule contrary to the existing laws of the country, that it's just a matter of a couple of people's privately agreeing to follow this or that legal code in deciding some civil dispute. But Melanie Phillips (in the course of what I gather is supposed to be a reassuring article) points out that some Muslim council related to these sharia courts gives guidelines on its web site for divorce in the case of pre-pubescent girls! Does British law recognize marriage for pre-pubescent girls? No? Well, in that case, the sharia courts are already refusing (as we knew, inevitably, they would refuse) to admit that their rulings must be in conformity to British law.

I don't think Melanie Phillips' piece is reassuring. Nor is mine. While we both make it clear that arbitration is nothing new and that Muslims have no better rights than anyone else, we also both make the point that unofficial sharia is more dangerous than anything these courts can do. And, as Lydia says, many Muslims simply do not recognise non-Muslim law - to them it is not important. That said, they take advantage of non-Muslim law when it grants the a right, for example, the right to arbitration.

Law and justice are not the same. It is legal to give your daughter half your son's inheritance, but it's unjust.

Where the decisions of the tribunal are unfair, a Muslim woman could get justice by going to a proper court, but would she? At what risk to herself?

"we also both make the point that unofficial sharia is more dangerous than anything these courts can do."

Actually, the existence of these courts buttress the authority of "unofficial sharia" and hasten the day when sharia becomes "official." The Prince of Wales adaptation of the multicultural title of "Defender of All Faiths", reflects an English elite of eunuchs gliding to their own demise.

John O'Sullivan on Cool Britiannia's law enforcement in the face of these courts;

"The police have reportedly been enforcing the sharia court's questionable judgments even though they lack legal force - for example, they've stopped questioning women who've accused their husbands of domestic violence once the tribunal has "settled" the case...

...But the police sometimes break their own rules in such cases out of a desire to avoid appearing "Islamophobic" and to deal with Muslim communities through unelected "community leaders." "
http://www.nypost.com/seven/09182008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/sharia_uk_129620.htm

I think the words "official" and "unofficial" can be used a bit confusingly here. These courts have been, by the justices' speech and by police actions, given a certain status. O'Sullivan's allegation, if correct in its implication, is damning. We're talking about considerably more than just injustice in the disposition of an inheritance if the police really are ceasing to help women make their complaints against their battering husbands upon being told that the "court" has "settled" the case. This isn't even necessarily a matter of the police's hands being tied because the woman refuses to tell what has happened. These apparently are cases where it is the _police_ who are backing off after the word comes down from the sharia court that the matter is settled.

That isn't arbitration. That isn't unofficial in the most relevant sense. That isn't private. That is treating the sharia courts as if they have some sort of formal ability to settle _criminal_ complaints so that the victim has no further standing to seek real criminal justice.

Similarly, if we start talking about forced divorces and child marriages, we will be talking about something a lot worse than a "sexist" inheritance division. And if the police and courts are turning a blind eye because they have been given to understand that in some sense the sharia courts have authority to "settle" matters, then that is a de facto official status for the sharia courts, whatever anyone says to the contrary.

Something akin to the Stockholm Syndrome is in play here. Or, maybe hair-splitting denials over the pace of Islamization can best be likened to the Weimar Republic's dismissal of the "hapless, Austrian corporal". Whatever it is,
it should be vigorously resisted. Instead the truth should be served straight-up.

they've stopped questioning women who've accused their husbands of domestic violence once the tribunal has "settled" the case...

If the woman drops the complaint there is nothing whatsoever the police can do, whether she's a Muslim or not.

It is simply not the case that:

(a) A woman brings a complaint, and
(b) The sharia "court" "rules" she should drop it, and
(c) She doesn't drop it, and
(d) The police stop investigating.

The police will carry on investigating unless or until she drops the complaint. The sharia "court" - it isn't a court - has no jurisdiction over criminal cases.

This is exactly the same in the US or any country in which people are allowed to withdraw a criminal complaint. In fact the whole position is:

(a) the same as it always was, and

(b) the same as in any country which allows arbitration, does not explicitly exclude sharia in that arbitration, and allows people to drop complaints.

You can change the law so that nobody is allowed to drop a complaint once made, but that has other very disruptive implications, and precludes any kind of settling out of court, where this is normally a good thing.

I don't see why this point - that once the woman had withdrawn her complaint there was nothing the police could do - is so hard to grasp.

Well, there are several issues here. First of all, there is a factual issue. Did the women really drop their complaint without any encouragement from the police, or did they get the impression from the police that they were now uninterested in their complaint after the community had taken care of it? Second, what does it mean to say that the police "stopped questioning" the women? That sounds to me like perhaps the impetus for the complaint was indeed coming in part from the police, who indeed could have continued the investigation, perhaps by getting the women alone and talking to them without male relatives present, and they chose not to do so. And so forth.

I really think it's all a question of the interpretation one puts on these reports and whether that interpretation is right or not. Considering the other confirmatory evidence of police over-deference to the Muslim community and turning a deaf ear to very serious female complaints and pleas for help--e.g., that young woman named Banaz (I'd have to look up her whole story) who was murdered after her _very active_ complaint was dismissed by the UK police--I'd have to say I'm very skeptical of versions that put the most positive possible interpretation on these stories of police, domestic violence, and sharia courts.

The problem is that our laws - and by implication the laws of any Western democracy - were not designed to deal with Islam, a religion which plays both the aggressor and the victim.

Looking at the domestic violence case, under English law, a woman is a full person and her testimony counts for the same as a man's. So if a woman, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or agnostic, brings a complaint of domestic violence and then withdraws it, there is, logically, nothing the police can do. The police can't override the woman's testimony.

Women come under all kinds of pressure to withdraw complaints of domestic violence - not least threats of further violence. The sharia "court" is just one form of pressure.

It seems to me that the best way to deal with this is through education and information, such that Islam is rightly viewed with suspicion. Police domestic violence units should be extra suspicious in the case of Muslim women, and take extra care to point them in the direction of refuges, counselling and so on, so that they feel confident in pursuing their complaint.

It's attitudes that need to change, not the law. Arbitration has a fine and noble history, going back several hundred years. Islam is exploiting this tradition as it exploits others.

And if you think these "courts" don't happen in Dearborn I suspect you're kidding yourselves. They may happen in somebody's house, but I think it's more than likely that American Muslim women have been persuaded not to bring charges of domestic violence. And what can the police then do?

The Sunday Times article that caused all the fuss states:

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

There is no evidence, for or against, that the police persuaded the women to drop the complaints, or if they did - sometimes they do e.g. with rape if there isn't enough evidence - that this was a result of sharia.

So much is inferred by O'Sullivan and many other commenters without any evidence other than the widely publicised - and much condemned - case of an honour killing that could have been prevented. (In fact the police now have specific training to deal with honour killings.) There is no actual evidence for any of this other than circumstantial and no evidence of anything that isn't happening - or couldn't happen - in any other Western democracy with the same laws.

Which is why Islam should be actively opposed, otherwise it will encroach on all our democracies. No politicians are doing this. Not Gordon Brown. Not George Bush. And not even Sarah Palin.

"And what can the police then do?"

Pursue obstruction of justice and sedition charges against the suspects.

Please. This isn't that hard. Let the Islamists and the ACLU (and their British equivalent) rant. Time to draw some, bright, visible lines.

perhaps by getting the women alone and talking to them without male relatives present, and they chose not to do so.

The male relatives would not be present when the woman gives her statement. That's basic police procedure. Interviews are conducted with the victim/complainant and the only other (non-police) person who may be present is the victim's lawyer, or a "responsible adult" in the case of minors.

Nothing has changed here.

Pursue obstruction of justice and sedition charges against the suspects.

How exactly?

I couldn't agree more that our politicians are not doing all that they could and should be doing. Nor even starting, for that matter.

It seems to me that education to courts to view with suspicion the supposedly voluntary arbitration agreements of sharia courts would also be a good place to go. Also education to police that they must never drop a criminal investigation because of reparations ordered by a sharia court, that sharia courts have _no_ jurisdiction in criminal cases. At all. I simply don't have time today, and will be gone all tomorrow, so I can't look up the case I saw recounted of the assault case between two young men where a sharia court ordered reparations and, the story said, the police dropped charges against the one young man _for that reason_. Could it have been a faulty report? Could have been. But I wouldn't count on it.

AGain, are there private sharia courts in Dearborn or Minneapolis. Very probably. Have their rulings been recognized in a speech by a high justice of the American judicial system? Not that I know of. Have they been recognized in an American court as prima facie valid arbitration agreements with no suspicion of coercion when a woman was involved? I don't know but have no reports to that effect whatsoever, nor statements that they definitely will be. Have American police ever dropped a knifing case between two young men because a sharia court ordered one to pay reparations to the other? Not that I have ever heard. Has a young woman ever been honor-murdered by her male relatives in the U.S. after a U.S. cop brusquely dismissed her frantic plea for help? No report yet. Are American Muslim women who run away from their families being betrayed by American Muslims in the American police forces? Not even reported so far. Have street preachers in the U.S. been ordered not to preach in Muslim areas because a Muslim police officer, backed up by his non-Muslim colleague, told them they weren't allowed to do so, that they would be beaten up if they returned, and that trying to convert Muslims is a hate crims? Not that I know of.

All of this _could be_ happening in the U.S. But it's in the UK that it's being alleged actually to be happening.

But this is Islam we are talking about. It's the same everywhere. If you have the same laws, Muslims will exploit them in the same way.

Pursue obstruction of justice and sedition charges against the suspects.

"How exactly?"

Obstruction charges are common-place as a way of cracking open a larger case but are admittedly rarely used in domestic abuses cases. A Prosecutor need not tally up a lot of convictions, but a message would be sent; we're going to go the extra step to prevetn the development of a competing system of justice. An ambitious D.A. could build a career on rooting out gangs of misogynists oppressing their women. And imagine the effect it would have in places like Dearborn? "The kafir have a spine and our chattel are flocking to them."

Have they been recognized in an American court as prima facie valid arbitration agreements with no suspicion of coercion when a woman was involved?

No, and not in a British court yet either. The whole point is that the case is settled out of court.

If it came before a British court, that would mean that one of the parties had challenged it. And in that case, British law - as our Lord Chief Justice made crystal clear - would prevail.

Obstruction charges are common-place as a way of cracking open a larger case but are admittedly rarely used in domestic abuses cases.

It would be very difficult if the woman insists on withdrawing her complaint.

(I know a policewoman who worked in domestic violence who said it was heartbreaking when women withdrew their complaints, because the police couldn't nail the bastard. The complainants were not usually Muslim women, not, I suspect, because DV doesn't happen to them, but because they are probably brought up to think it's their fault and don't bring charges.)

"It would be very difficult if the woman insists on withdrawing her complaint."

The obstruction charge is leveled at those men on the "court." The woman need not be invloved once she has dropped her charge. Again, convictions are not the immdediate goal. Removing the psychological barrier that these courts place between the Moslem and British law is and socitey is the end-game. You'd be amazed what highly visible community policing can achieve.

Don't make me send a bunch of ex-NYPD over there! They hate your version of football.

Sorry for the typos;
The woman need not be involved once she has dropped her charge. Again, convictions are not the immdediate goal. Removing the psychological barrier that these courts place between the Moslem and British law & socitey is the end-game.

Kevin - that sounds like a good idea. But first there has to be more honesty - knowledge even - about Islam. And that is sadly lacking. These sharia "courts" are obstructing the course of justice. I think the equivalent UK offence is "conspiracy to pervert the course of justice" which carries a prison sentence.

Islam is sure-enough the same everywhere. Is Western deference to it the same everywhere?

Well, I'm not going to lay too many bets, but I have some reason to hope American police deference to it hasn't gone as far as UK police deference to it. That difference may not last long, however.

Mary, we're all on the same page here regarding Islam. Your fellow Brit, Christopher Dawson told us no culture survives after the loss of its cult. A true and lasting renewal entails a restoration of our shared religious heritage. Short-term, your law enforcement has to draw on its recent experience with the I.R.A. and give these "courts" all the hell they can handle.

I have some reason to hope American police deference to it hasn't gone as far as UK police deference to it.

I think you're right. Undue deference is the problem over here, probably more than over there. It is, however, not so much a matter of the law, but of attitudes and willingness to enforce laws - or in the Muslim woman's case, use her rights under the law.

The diversity industry has a lot to answer for. A genuine understanding of diversity would mean understanding that not all religions are equally benign, and that Islam in particular is much more than a religion.

Mary,
It seems your authorities are wrongly drawing on their experience with the IRA. As you know the Good Friday Peace Accords led to "self-rule" of North Ireland as understood and exercised by the atavistic tribal chieftains that plague the place. In exchange for allowing the murderous rivals of IRA Provos and U.D.F. Orangemen dominion over their respective clansmen, Canary Wharf, Harrods and the LSE were removed from the terrorist's target list.

In applying this same "accomodationist" template to the Islam growing within her borders, the British state is making an enormous blunder. Allowing for "no-go" zones in Ulster amongst home-grown sectarian gangs is likely delusional, but vastly different than conceding areas of control to an alien and violent sect multiplying within metropolitan England. This is clearly insane and suicidal, and an indication of the ignorance and cowardice infecting your feckless governors.

I don't think Dick Cheney wants to change them. I think he wants to make the point clear that we don't want them to change us and he wants to offer change (there) to those who would like to.

You ought to know that many of that tiny subset believe in what they're doing, and only God knows if a war on distant shores will help deliver us from such a threat.

I've yet to receive a convincing argument against this war. And no exceptions were found here.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A suburban Buffalo man who founded a cable TV station to promote better understanding of Muslims in the U.S. has been arrested on charges he beheaded his wife.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29189095/

http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/

Yes, amazing, isn't it? Perhaps even humorous, in a very dark way. Hey, behead your wife! _That'll_ help people to have a better image of Muslims in the U.S.

Let us be grateful for the fact that he will be tried by an American court before a jury made up shrinking Buffalo's remaining ethnic Catholics and put away for life. Had this occurred in most parts of the U.K., the net result would be acquittal by a Sharia court, a greatly propelled T.V. career and recognition as an especially formidable power-broker.

Then again, the authorities in Portland Or., or Berkeley Ca., would be quietly arranging his deportation to Saudi Arabia to avoid mass cognitive dissonance from further disturbing their hopelessly enfeebled communities.

Bookmarked this link! I am a nutcase about any type of law. :)

Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Where it has official status, sharia is applied by Islamic judges, or qadis.

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