Its rulings can be enforced by the courts

Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph:

A crown court judge has been allowed to rule on sharia cases, in the first case of its kind.

District Judge Shamim Qureshi, who sits at Bristol Crown Court, received permission from the Judicial Office to double as “presiding judge” at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT).

The MAT was established in 2007 by a hardline cleric, Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, who led an anti-Charlie Hebdo demonstration after 11 of the magazine’s staff were murdered by terrorists.

So the real law is getting mixed up with the unofficial, religious law?

Judge Qureshi has overseen MAT, which is based in Nuneaton, Warks, and has four other branches.

It states that it serves Muslims “seeking to resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic sacred law”.

Unlike most sharia councils and tribunals, MAT has legal status under the 1996 Arbitration Act and its rulings can be enforced by the courts.

So that’s a very bad thing then.

About four-fifths of its work is family and matrimonial disputes, where it has on occasions issued rulings that discriminate against women. In an inheritance dispute between three sisters and two brothers, the tribunal gave the men double their sisters’ inheritance.

MAT has handled cases of domestic violence in which female victimswere persuaded to withdraw complaints to the police and pursue “reconciliation” with their husbands instead. The men were only told to take anger management courses. It also offers Islamic divorces, but they are more difficult for women to obtain than for men.

And now a real judge is going to be a “presiding judge” there.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said: “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.”

A spokesman for the Judicial Office said Judge Qureshi had received permission for his sharia work, which was done on a voluntary basis. MAT could not be contacted for comment.

I think Khalid Mahmood has it right. A real judge shouldn’t be doing that, on a voluntary basis or not.

2 Responses to “Its rulings can be enforced by the courts”