UK Bishop supports bill in House of Lords that will restrict Sharia law
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who was formerly bishop of Rochester, said he supports The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, noting that Sharia law conflicts with the British tradition of equality.
Presently, there are some 85 Muslim arbitration tribunals and Sharia councils throughout the UK.
Ali, who grew up in Pakistan said, “People in this country are free to practice whatever faith they have. But at the same time we have a very long tradition of people being equal under the law,” according to The Christian Institute.
Ali added, “The problem with Sharia is that it is inherently unequal for certain kinds of people. Muslims and non-Muslims are treated unequally. Similarly, men and women are treated unequally,” The Christian Institute reported.
Ali said that should Sharia be recognized by public law, it “introduces a principle of contradiction in the body of the law which will cause problems for the country and for people who will suffer, particularly women,” according to The Christian Institute.
The bill, which was introduced by Baroness Caroline Cox to the House of Lords early in the week, bans the application of Sharia law when it is discriminatory to non-Muslims and women.
The bill also proposes that public bodies are legally required to inform women of ways by which their legal rights will be affected if their marriage is not recognized by British law, The Christian Institute reported.
It will furthermore include a new law that penalizes false claims of legal jurisdiction insofar as family or criminal law is concerned, according to The Christian Institute.
However, it will not impose on any religion’s internal theology.
It does, however, seek to prevent any rulings that may be discriminatory and are in conflict with UK law.
At the same time, it will clearly define the limits of Sharia law.
Cox said, “My Bill seeks to stop parallel legal, or ‘quasi-legal’, systems taking root in our nation. Cases of criminal law and family law are matters reserved for our English courts alone,” Christian Today reported.
Cox said, “I want to make it perfectly clear in the law that discrimination against women shall not be allowed. We must do all that we can to make sure they are free from any coercion, intimidation or unfairness,” according to Christian Today.
Under Sharia law, a man who wishes to divorce his wife only needs to declare that he divorces her three times.
By contrast, a woman who seeks to divorce her husband must file an application to a Sharia court, pay a fee and seek the permission of her husband to do so.
Also, under Sharia law, men can remarry while women cannot. Furthermore, sons receive twice the inheritance of daughters.
Ali said, “We need to make sure that people have free access to the courts and equal protection from the state, as far as their fundamental rights are concerned,” Christian Today reported.