According to Denis MacEoin, author of Sharia Law or ‘One Law For All’?, sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings that are inappropriate to this country because they are linked to elements in Islamic law that are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation that derive from the values of the Enlightenment and are inherent in modern codes of human rights. Sharia rulings contain great potential for controversy and may involve acts contrary to UK legal norms and human rights legislation
Whoa! Two things are being confused here. The only grounds we may have against Sharia courts, as for anything else, is that they are wrong. Not that they are ‘inappropriate’ or ‘out of step’ but that they are wrong.
1. We can say that they are wrong when they break the law. If we think that those operating these ‘courts’ are breaking the law we may either invite the police and Crown Prosecution Servant to decide whether there seems to be a case, and then to charge these people and bring the case to court, or we may bring a civil case against them ourselves. The court may then find whether or nor they have broken the law.
2. We may use our conscience to judge whether they are wrong. We can continue to maintain that they are wrong even if no law seems to say so and even if we receive no confirmation from the courts that interpret the law. We can say publicly that they are wrong (no one may stop us from expressing this belief) and we add that they break God’s law (we may give ‘religious’ reasons for our view).
But these ‘courts’ are not wrong because they are ‘out of step’, or offend our sensibilities or because it seems possible that they may offend anyone else. We should insist on talking about right and wrong and that we can all make this distinction between legal and moral. This ‘norms-values-rights’ discourse is going to get us all into trouble.
Civitas should attempt to bring some of these cases of ‘conflicting jurisdictions’ to court. It could suggest which legislation it believes such Sharia courts break.
About Sharia itself see No to Sharia Law in Britain