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8th February

Divorced from Reality...

Archnutter Williams suggests some Sharia could be included in UK law

Sun Headline: What a Burkha Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has sparked a political storm by calling for aspects of Sharia law to be adopted in Britain.

Williams said it seems inevitable" that elements of Islamic law, such as divorce proceedings, would be incorporated into British law.

Williams said the UK had to face up to the fact that some citizens do not relate to the British legal system, and argued that officially sanctioning Sharia law would improve community relations.

Nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that has sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states, he told the BBC's World at One programme: But there are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them.

But his intervention put him at odds with Gordon Brown, who has repeatedly encouraged ethnic communities to integrate.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said that while certain allowances had been made for Muslims, British law would be based on British values and Sharia law was no justification for acting against national law.

Williams said people needed to look at Islamic law with a clear eye and not imagine, either, that we know exactly what we mean by Sharia and just associate it with... Saudi Arabia, or whatever....I do not think we should instantly spring to the conclusion that the whole of that world of jurisprudence and practice is somehow monstrously incompatible with human rights just because it doesn't immediately fit with how we understand it .

Sharia law was originally more enlightened in its attitude to women than other legal systems, Williams pointed out, but did now have to be brought up to date.

Williams's comments were welcomed by Mohammed Shafiq, the director of the Ramadhan Foundation, who said: Sharia law for civil matters is something which has been introduced in some western countries with much success.


9th February

Update: What A Burkha...

Archbishop William's UK sharia suggestion is not well received

Sun Headline: What a Burkha The Archnutter of Canterbury faced calls for his resignation today as bishops joined politicians in criticising his remarks supporting the adoption of sharia law in Britain.

Dr Rowan Williams was urged to quit by angry members of the General Synod, the Church's "parliament", who claimed he was undermining the Christian faith.

To add to his woes, Lord Carey, his predecessor at Canterbury, and the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, challenged his view that aspects of Islamic law could be incorporated into the English legal system.

The strength of the backlash represents one of the most serious blows to the Archbishop's authority since his appointment five years ago, and he faces more turbulence when the Synod convenes for a five-day meeting in London on Monday.

Last night friends of the Archbishop said he was "completely overwhelmed" by the hostility of the response and in a "state of shock" at the barrage of criticism he has received.

Lord Carey said that he was wrong to believe that sharia could be accommodated into the English system because there were so many conflicting versions of it, many of which discriminated against women.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who holds dual British and Pakistani citizenship, said sharia would be "in tension" with fundamental aspects of our current legal system, such as the rights of women.

Offsite Comment: What he wishes on us is an abomination

See article from the Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

What Rowan Williams wishes upon us is an abomination and I write here as a modern Muslim woman. He lectures the nation on the benefits of sharia law – made by bearded men, for men – and wants the alternative legal system to be accommodated within our democracy in the spirit of inclusion and cohesion.

Pray tell me sir, how do separate and impenetrable courts and schools and extreme female segregation promote commonalities and deep bonds between citizens of these small isles?

What he did on Thursday was to convince other Britons, white, black and brown, that Muslims want not equality but exceptionalism and their own domains. Enlightened British Muslims quail. Friends like this churchman do us more harm than our many enemies. He passes round what he believes to be the benign libation of tolerance. It is laced with arsenic.

He would not want his own girls and women, I am sure, to "choose" to be governed by these laws he breezily endorses. And he is naive to the point of folly if he imagines it is possible to pick and choose the bits that are relatively nice to the girls or ones that seem to dictate honourable financial transactions.

Look around the Islamic world where sharia rules and, in every single country, these ordinances reduce our human value to less than half that is accorded a male; homosexuals are imprisoned or killed, children have no free voice or autonomy, authoritarianism rules and infantilises populations.

Offsite Comment: Williams is dangerous. He must be resisted

See article from the Times by Matthew Parris

...Properly understood, the effect of devolving national law and national morality to local and group level is profoundly conservative. Dr Williams's ideas really represent the wilder fringes of a bigger idea: communitarianism...

There is absolutely nothing “left-wing” or woolly-liberal about empowering it. A Britain in which Muslim communities policed themselves would be more ruthlessly policed, and probably more law-abiding than today. But it would be a Britain in which the individual Muslim - maybe female, maybe ambitious, maybe gay, maybe a religious doubter - would lose their chances of rescue from his or her family or community by the State.

The State, not family, faith or community, is the guarantor of personal liberty and intellectual freedom, and it will always be to the State, not the Church, synagogue or mosque, that the oppressed individual needs look. Some two centuries ago Nonconformism in Britain, by offering the individual an unmediated approach to a personal God, started to liberate Christians from the Church. Dr Williams seems not to understand this. Or perhaps he does, and is on the other side.

Update: Unclear & Clumsily Deployed

12th February

See full article from the Independent

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sought to defuse the bitter row over what he appeared to claim was the unavoidable adoption of sharia law in the UK by conceding that his controversial comments may have been unclear and "clumsily deployed".

He insisted that the Church of England had a "considerable" responsibility to other faith groups and asserted that it was not "inappropriate" to raise issues surrounding Islam or other religions – comments that were immediately welcomed by Muslim leaders.


10th February

Offsite: Veiled Message...

What lies beyond Lambeth's Sharia humiliation?

Sun Headline: What a Burkha ...By now a number of people have also got round to having a look at the archbishop's actual lecture (the earliest reactions were to summary impressions), as well his World at One BBC radio interview – the real origin of the calumny heaped upon him. The speech contains some interesting questions and some problematic ideas. The broadcast opportunity that was intended to ‘put things in perspective' ended up making them very much worse, however. As an object lesson in how to wrench a PR disaster out of a potential three-paragraph story on page 6, this might take some beating. Meanwhile, the real issues about religion and society, voluntary association and civil law, have been in danger of being obscured in the resulting brouhaha.

It is evident by now, I hope, that the head of the Church of England was not actually arguing for the incorporation of chunks of Sharia jurisprudence alongside English law, or its wholesale recognition as a competing legal system – though the damage done by the impression that he was doing this is probably irreparable. Rather, he was (is) suggesting, on the basis of a belief that ‘shared citizenship' requires the official recognition of different identities and allegiances, that in the limited areas of marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody, voluntarily entered Muslim communal judgements might be recognised within what would remain a common framework of law – much as Talmudic provisions are for Orthodox Jews, it is suggested.

...Read the full article


21st February

Update: A Bit of Perspective on Sharia...

Archbishop Williams jokes about his sharia fallout

Sun Headline: What a Burkha The Archbishop of Canterbury returned to the debate on sharia law in the first of three public lectures to be given in Cambridge.

He attempted to make light of the criticism he has received. My doomed enterprise the other day was to try and introduce that bit of perspective. Let that be a warning to you all, he joked.

Addressing an audience of more than 1,200 people, he condemned the way Islamic law discriminated against women in some Muslim countries: In some of the ways it has been codified and practised across the world, it has been appalling. In some of the ways it has been applied to women in places like Saudi Arabia, it is grim.

Despite acknowledging the concerns raised over some aspects of sharia law, he repeated his assertion that it was rooted in the sense of doing God's will in the ordinary things of life.

He warned against demonising Muslims and their religion, saying that to judge the faith purely on negatives would be like judging Christianity on a couple of chapters of the Old Testament.


28th July

Update: Hands Off British Justice...

Stephen Green tells muslims not get hopes up over Cameron's suggestion to introduce sharia

Christian Voice logo Conservative leader David Cameron has been criticised by nutters over his joke that he is considering introducing Sharia law for bicycle theft.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:

We have had the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chief Justice saying aspects of Sharia law cold be introduced into civil proceedings. That was bad enough, but Cameron has gone one further, by suggesting that Sharia principles could be of value in our criminal law.

He may have thought it was a joke, but cutting peoples' hands cut off for theft isn't funny.

The idea of replacing our Judeo-Christian law with Islamic Sharia law isn't funny either.

Just two weeks ago, I was debating with Muslims in Queen Mary's University of London , opposing the motion: 'This House believes that Islam is the only intellectual and Political challenge to Liberal Secularism.'

These guys were moderate Muslims, but they were adamant that only Islam held the answer for the problems of British society.

Now the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition has encouraged that idea and raised expectations amongst Muslims that their criminal legal system could be of value in Britain .

David Cameron ought to go away and study what is happening in his own country. It is good that he has in a sense been 'mugged by reality' over crime but he is completely out of touch with the realities of Islamic ambition in this land.


14th September

Update: Hands Off British Justice!...

Sharia arbitration courts now official in the UK
Ann Robinson

Ms MuslimExWife...
You will go home

Islamic 'law' has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network's headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996. Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

Siddiqi said: We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.

Jewish Beth Din courts operate under the same provision in the Arbitration Act and resolv civil cases, ranging from divorce to business disputes. They have existed in Britain for more than 100 years, and previously operated under a precursor to the act.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so.

Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: I think it's appalling. I don't think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state.”

There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men.

Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons. The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment. In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.


13th October

Update: Nothing in it for Women...

So why should Britain enforce sharia court judgements
Ann Robinson

Ms MuslimExWife...
You are the weakest link

The new minister for race relations has attacked sharia courts, insisting that the Muslim community in Britain is not advanced enough to have its own legal system.

Sadiq Khan, whose comments will have added impact because he is a Muslim himself, has also warned that the growing number of tribunals based on Islamic codes could entrench discrimination against women.

Khan, who became minister for community cohesion in the government reshuffle this month, said: The burden is on those who want to open up these courts to persuade us why they should do it.

In a wide-ranging interview on race and immigration, Khan the Labour MP for Tooting, south London, also: Warned that an economic downturn could fuel ethnic tensions. Demanded an increase in benefits for immigrants with larger families. Admitted that government anti-terror laws had caused problems in race relations. Called on public bodies to cut translation services to encourage immigrants to learn English.

I have seen good examples of Jewish courts, Khan said. I would be very concerned about sharia courts applying in the UK. I don't think there is that level of sophistication that there is in Jewish law.

Jewish law has a long history. There are not the same areas of concern that there are with sharia law. At some stage in the future I do not rule out the possibility that the Muslim diaspora in this country may be advanced enough. But now is not the right time.

Khan said he believed the tribunals would only exacerbate the unfair treatment of Muslim women: There is unequal bargaining power between men and women in this country . Women can be abused and persuaded to do things that they shouldn't have to do.


22nd November

Offsite: Divorced from British Law...

Britain grapples with role for Islamic justice

Unbalanced scalesThe woman in black wanted an Islamic divorce. She told the UK religious judge that her husband hit her, cursed her and wanted her dead.

But her husband was opposed, and the Islamic scholar adjudicating the case seemed determined to keep the couple together. So, sensing defeat, she brought our her secret weapon: her father.

In walked a bearded man in long robes who described his son-in-law as a hot-tempered man who had duped his daughter, evaded the police and humiliated his family.

The judge promptly reversed himself and recommended divorce.

...Read full article


19th December

Campaign: One Law for All...

Calling for new legislative curbs on sharia courts

One Law for All logo New legislation may be needed to curb the activities of informal sharia courts that are operating in Britain, said the organisers of the One Law For All campaign, which was launched at the House of Lords this week.

Campaign organiser, Maryam Namazie, commented that sharia law was undesirable in any form as it sets up conflicts between both human rights and civil law in Britain. Even in civil matters, Sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children, she said.

Of particular concern was whether women were being coerced into using these courts and tribunals against their best interests.


14th January

Update: Welcome to Saudi Britain...

Result of petition against sharia law in the UK

Welcome to Saudi Britain by Pat Condell Re the petition: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop Sharia Law from being binding in law under arbitration tribunals rules.

Further Details: Sharia law can be enforced in this country by the county and high courts. This is allowed under rules of arbitration when both parties in the dispute agree to give the tribunal (in this case a sharia court) the power to rule on the case. We state that this should be stopped, as sharia law is totally contrary to western values of fair and equal justice for all.

Result: Closed

Received 6572 signatures

Statement from No 10 Downing Street:

Shari’a law is the code of personal religious law governing the conduct of Muslims. It can extend into all aspects of people’s lives – personal, religious, family, civil and criminal.

Shari’a law is not part of the law of England and Wales. The Government does not intend to change this position in relation to the whole or part of the United Kingdom. However, provided an activity prescribed by Shari’a law does not contravene the law of England and Wales, there is nothing to prohibit it. Muslims can, for example, wear traditional dress and follow dietary rules. They are completely free to worship in the way that they want.

There can never be reliance on the fact that an act is permitted under Shari’a law as a justification for committing what is, under the law of England and Wales, a criminal act. Nor, for example, could someone expect a civil court, in reaching a decision on a contractual case under English or Scottish law, to apply the principles of Shari’a law.

Criminal matters, both small and serious, will always be heard in a Crown or Magistrate’s Court in England and Wales, and in Sheriff’s Courts in Scotland. The decisions made in an alternative court will not be recognised.


18th March

Update: One Law for All...

London protests against the accommodation of Sharia in UK law

One Law for All protestNearly 600 people joined the One Law for All anti-racist rally against Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and in defence of citizenship and universal rights in Trafalgar Square and marched towards Red Lion Square in London. Hundreds then joined our public meeting to discuss and debate Sharia, Sexual Apartheid and Women's Rights. Our protest was met with widespread support and left many feeling inspired and invigorated. It was also covered by the mainstream media, including BBC Radio 4, BBC 5 Live, BBC Wales, and the Times.

The rally of several hundred heard a number of speakers denouncing the policy of accommodation and appeasement of the political Islamic movement. A C Grayling in his speech said: 'Once you start fragmenting society, once you start allowing different groups in society to apply different standards, you get very profound injustices and it is almost always women who suffer these injustices. We have to fight hard to keep one law for everybody.'

Parisa who was refused a divorce from a violent husband said: Ten years of my life is gone because of Sharia law. I want to stop it. Please help to stop it. It is not fair. I had a good uncle who helped me to escape but what about others who don't have a chance to run away. I saw that many, many times.

Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, said: We do not need another legal system running in parallel... Sharia is creeping into our legal system and society and we must stop it in its tracks and now!

Fariborz Pooya, head of the Iranian Secular Society, said the introduction of Sharia is a betrayal of thousands of women and children and leaves them at the mercy of Islamist groups.


5th June

Update: Nailing Heads to Floors...

Norman Tebbit likens sharia courts to Kray Twins justice

The Krays DVDVeteran Tory Lord Tebbit provoked anger among Muslims yesterday by comparing Islamic sharia courts to gangsters.

He likened the tribunals to the system of arbitration of disputes that was run by the Kray brothers.

Lord Tebbit told the Lords: Are you not aware that there is extreme pressure put upon vulnerable women to go through a form of arbitration that results in them being virtually precluded from access to British law?

The intervention from Lord Tebbit, the former Tory chairman and cabinet minister whose leading role in the Thatcher years has made him a revered figure for many in the party, reignited the row over Islamic courts and their role in the British justice system.

Warning that women could be shut out from the protection of the law, he asked Justice Minister Lord Bach: That is a difficult matter, I know, but how do you think we can help those who are put in that position?

Lord Bach admitted a problem undoubtedly exists over the treatment of women in sharia courts.

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: We can only wonder whether Lord Tebbit has ever set foot in a sharia council to see what they actually do before making such a baseless and ignorant comparison with the workings of the Kray brothers.

Both Muslim sharia councils and Orthodox Jewish Beth Din courts exist to try and help resolve civil disputes amongst individuals through a voluntary process of arbitration. They are entirely legal and have to operate firmly within the law.


29th June

Update: Illegal Advice...

Women are predictably being stiffed at UK sharia courts

CivitasDozens of sharia courts in the UK are regularly giving illegal advice on issues including marriage and divorce, a report published today claims.

Decisions concerning marriages not recognised under English law, polygamy, and disputes regarding children are being made by at least 85 sharia courts, according to the report by the thinktank Civitas.

There is no clear divide between the functions of imams and the sharia courts. An imam who conducts a marriage which is not registered and then advises on disputes within that marriage acts in breach of the law and outside the scope of the sharia court's role, Civitas say.

Some of these courts are advising illegal actions, said Denis MacEoin, a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic studies who wrote the report. And others transgress human rights standards.

About two-thirds of Muslim marriages are not being registered under the Marriages Act, which is illegal, said Neil Addison, a barrister specialising in the law on religion. A woman with such a marriage would have no choice but to go to a sharia tribunal … But it's not the way arbitration is supposed to work.

MacEoin said: By demanding marriage under Muslim law, the divorce is determined by the man saying 'I divorce you' three times. Divorce under Islamic law also affects the wife's entitlement to alimony, custody of children, and who keeps the family house. These will all be decided by sharia law and will be discriminatory towards the woman in all cases.

Many Muslim lawyers have compared the operation of sharia courts to the Jewish beth din, which also operate as arbitration tribunals under UK law, a comparison which is questioned by the report. The report disputes the comparison. These courts are not operating within the same disciplines as the beth din. The beth din acknowledge that 'the law of the land is the law.' and a rabbi cannot perform a synagogue marriage ceremony unless a registrar is present to simultaneously register the marriage under English law.

Sharia courts also need to be more transparent if they are to continue, critic says. These tribunals don't seem to have any system of record keeping said MacEion: They are not transparent, either within their own community or for the outside community. That is a problem that needs to be looked at.


7th July

Offsite: Men Worth Two Women...

Sunday Mail reports on the workings of a UK sharia court

Sharia Council UK logoFor the first time, the Islamic Sharia Council has granted access to a newspaper to observe the entire sharia legal process in Britain. Over several weeks, I was allowed to witness the filing of complaints, individual testimony hearings and the monthly meeting of imams, or judges, where rulings are handed down.

Sharia has been operating here, in parallel to the British legal system, since 1982. Work includes issuing fatwas - religious rulings on matters ranging from why Islam considers homosexuality a sin to why two women are equivalent to one male witness in an Islamic court.

The Islamic Sharia Council also rules on individual cases, primarily in matters of Muslim personal or civil law: divorce, marriage, inheritance and settlement of dowry payments are the most common.

However, in the course of my investigation, I discovered how sharia is being used informally within the Muslim community to tackle crime such as gang fights or stabbings, bypassing police and the British court system.

...Read full article


25th July

Update: Barbaric Punishment Brings More Peace and Security...

Just like Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Pakistan

Sharia Council UK logoThe Founder of Britain's oldest Sharia court has said that harsh Islamic punishments, such as the amputation of limbs, will make Britain a safer place.

The Daily Times quoted Sheikh Suhaib Hasan, secretary of the Islamic Sharia Council, as saying that the enforcement of Sharia law was something to bring you more peace and security.

Hasan, president of an East London Sharia court, admitted that that he doesn't expect Britain to implement Islamic criminal laws as it is not a Muslim country.

Acknowledging the controversy surrounding any notion of support for hardline Islamic law in Britain, he said he was merely expressing his point of view as a devout Muslim.


23rd September

Offsite: Divorced from Reality...

UK sharia judge calls for the implementation of dowries in UK law

Sharia Council UK logo A UK sharia court judge, Suhaib Hasan, explains about islamic divorce in the UK.

The essence is that a man can divorce his wife at any time provided he has paid her a dowry.

However a woman who wants to divorce her husband she has to go via the court process. If she gets her request she has to pay her dowry back.

Hasan is calling that the dowry should be accommodated into UK law.

...Read full article


17th October

Update: March 4 Sharia...

Hopefully call for full sharia in Britain will turn out to be a non-event

Anjem Choudary The muslim group Islam4UK has announced plans to hold a rally in London on October 31 for a procession to demand the full implementation of sharia law.

On a website to promote their cause they deride British institutions, showing a mock-up picture of Nelson's Column surmounted by a minaret.

Plans for the demonstration have been delivered to the Metropolitan Police.

The procession - dubbed March 4 Shari'ah - will start at the House of Commons, which the group's website describes as the very place where the lives of millions of people in the UK are changed and it is from here where unjust wars are launched .

The group then intends to march to 10 Downing Street and call for the removal of the tyrant Gordon Brown from power . The march will then converge on Trafalgar Square where protesters expect it will gather even more support from tourists and members of the public, making clear in the heart of London the need for Shari'ah in society.

The group declared: We hereby request all Muslims in the United Kingdom, in Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and all other places to join us and collectively declare that as submitters to Almighty Allah, we have had enough of democracy and man-made law and the depravity of the British culture. On this day we will call for a complete upheaval of the British ruling system its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari'ah in Britain.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer said: It is extremely distasteful and is stoking the fires of fear within the British public. If anyone thinks that those views are a step forward in society they are seriously deluded. They are repellent and repulsive.

A spokesman for the Islamic Society of Britain said: 99.999% of Muslims despise these people. This only serves to fuel racial tensions.

A Home Office spokesman said: Everyone has the right to express their view so long as it is done sensibly, without violence and does not incite religious hatred.

Update: Birmingham Next

18th October 2009. See article from

And Choudary has revealed to the Sunday Mercury that his group plans to target Birmingham next. He said: We are hoping for more than 1,000 Muslims to attend the march in London on October 31. But if it proves a success then we may be coming to Birmingham next. I cannot say exactly when at this stage, but we would hope that it could take place within the next couple of months.

We believe there would be a lot of support for a March in Birmingham, where we would hope to raise the same issues as in London.

We want to start an intelligent debate about Islam and sharia and engage people in that debate.''


27th November

Update: One Law for All...

London rally protests against sharia in the UK

One Law for All Rally Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims joined forces in London to protest against Sharia and against all religious laws and courts. The rally took place in Hyde Park, Saturday 21 November 2009. Speakers included:

Roy Brown, of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU); rally organizer Maryam Namazie, of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (an IHEU Member Organization); David Pollock, president of the European Humanist Federation; Naomi Phillips of the British Humanist Association (IHEU MO); and Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society (IHEU MO).

The themes of the protest were one law for all and universal human rights. Expressing solidarity with Muslims resisting the inequalities and inhumanities of Sharia law, the protesters affirmed their commitment to democracy, secularism, equality and human rights.

Sharia law is a form of religious dogma and tyranny. It is homophobic, sexist and anti-democratic. It persecutes LGBT Muslims. Same-sex acts carry the death penalty in several Islamic states. Gay people can be stoned to death or hanged in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. We support LGBT Muslims - and all Muslims - who are fighting for their freedom, said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage! and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

For these reasons, secularism is not only an important element of freedom of expression. It is also the best guarantee of religious freedom, as it prevents any one faith becoming politically dominant and abusing its powers to oppress people of other faiths, Tatchell added.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris condemned the government for caving in to religious pressure. He cited the way Britain's equality laws allow religious bodies to discriminate against LGBT people and people in certain circumstances. Harris also condemned the government for giving privileged advisory status on policy and legislation to often unrepresentative faith leaders.

Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union warned that over 50 Islamic states, with the support of many developing countries, are currently demanding that the United Nations outlaw the defamation of religion. This would restrict free speech by criminalising criticism and condemnation of religious beliefs and institutions, he said.

A speaker from Iraq, Issam Shukri, told the rally how Islamist militias linked to the cleric and MP Muqtada al-Sadr had executed dozens of women who they deemed to be improperly dressed because were not fully covered head-to-toe. These militias have also organised death squad executions of LGBT Iraqis.

One Law for All will continue to push for an end to Sharia and religious laws in Britain. In the coming year, the campaign aims to conduct a survey of women who have been to Sharia courts here, will hold a fundraiser dinner on January 28, 2010 to raise money for the campaign; will host a March 8, 2010 seminar with legislators, lawyers and campaigners to recommend the legal and legislative avenues to ban Sharia and religious courts in Britain; will organise a June 20, 2010 rally against Sharia law; and will hold an October 10, 2010 conference on Sharia Law and Apostasy amongst other activities.


1st March

Diary: Seminar on Banning Sharia Law...

Legal and legislative means to ban Sharia law in Britain

olawevent Seminar on banning Sharia law in Britain
8 March 2010 Time: 6:30-8:30pm Arrive at 6:00pm for registration and refreshments Conway Hall, Holborn, London

Seminar on legal and legislative means to ban Sharia law in Britain

Tickets: £10; £3 students/unwaged.

Speakers include:

  • Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (British Muslims for Secular Democracy)
  • Yassi Atasheen (One Law for All)
  • Clara Connolly (Women Against Fundamentalism)
  • David Green (Civitas)
  • Denis MacShane (Nutter MP)
  • Rony Miah (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Lawyers' Secular Society)
  • Maryam Namazie (One Law for All)
  • Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters)
  • Fariborz Pooya (Iranian Secular Society)
  • Yasmin Rahman (Women Against Fundamentalism)
  • Joan Smith (Writer and Activist).


18th June

Diary: One Law for All...

Venue change for Rally Against Sharia and Religious Laws

OneLawForAll logo Rally Against Sharia
Richmond Terrace junction with Whitehall opposite Downing Street
20th June 2010, 2-4pm

Join us on June 20 to break that silence and take a stand against Sharia law and Islamism and in defence of universal rights and secularism. Be there to stand in solidarity with people living under and resisting Sharia law everywhere and demand an end to racism and cultural relativism.

June 20 is particularly poignant because it is the first anniversary of Neda Agha-Soltan's cold-blooded murder in broad daylight by the Islamic regime of Iran at a protest there. All Neda wanted was freedom.

Fundraising concert

Tickets are now available for a two-hour fundraising concert on 26 September 2010 at Conway Hall from 1800pm for 1830pm by top flight international musicians Olivier Pons, violin; Helen Linden, cello; and Folke Graesbeck, piano.

Art competition

After a successful 2009 art competition, One Law for All is organising a second edition to expose the discriminatory nature of Sharia and religious-based tribunals and/or promote equal rights for all citizens.


21st June

Update: Sharia Law in Britain...

A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights

sharia law in britain A new report by One Law for All has found Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals to be in violation of UK law, public policy and human rights.

Based on an 8 March 2010 Seminar on Sharia Law, research, interviews, and One Law for All case files, the report has identified a number of problem areas:

  • Sharia law's civil code is arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular. With the rise in the acceptance of Sharia courts, discrimination is being further institutionalised with some UK law firms additionally offering clients advice on Sharia law and the use of collaborative law.
  • Sharia law is practiced in Britain primarily by Sharia Councils and Muslims Arbitration Tribunals. Both operate on religious principles and are harmful to women although Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are wrongly regarded as being of more concern because they operate as tribunals under the Arbitration Act 1996, making their rulings binding in law.
  • Sharia Councils, on the other hand, claim to mediate on family issues but in practice often this differs little from arbitration: they frequently ask those appearing before them to sign an agreement to abide by their decisions; they call themselves courts, and the presiding imams, judges. Their decisions are then imposed and regarded as having the weight of legal judgements.
  • There is neither control over the appointment of judges in Sharia Councils or Tribunals nor an independent mechanism for monitoring them. Clients often do not have access to legal advice and representation. The proceedings are not recorded, nor are there any searchable legal judgements, nor any real right of appeal.
  • Sharia law cannot be compared to secular legal systems because it is considered sacred law that cannot be challenged. There is no scope to look at the interests of the individuals involved, as required by UK family law.
  • These legal processes ignore both common law and due process, far less Human Rights, and provide little protection and safety for women in violent situations.
  • There is a general assumption that those who attend Sharia courts do so voluntarily and that unfair decisions can be challenged in a British court. Many of the principles of Sharia law are contrary to British law and public policy, and would in theory therefore be unlikely to be upheld in a British court. In reality, however, women are often pressured by their families into going to these courts and adhering to unfair decisions, and may lack knowledge of English and their rights under British law. Moreover, refusal to settle a dispute in a Sharia court can give rise to threats and intimidation, or at best being ostracised.

According to Maryam Namazie, spokesperson of the One Law for All Campaign and an author of the report, The existence of a parallel legal system that is denying a large section of the British population their fundamental human rights is scandalous. Our findings show that it is essential to abolish all religious courts in the UK. Their very existence and legitimisation puts pressure on vulnerable women not to assert their civil rights in a British court. As long as Sharia Councils and Tribunals are allowed to continue to make rulings on issues of family law, women will be pressured into accepting decisions which are prejudicial to them and their children.

The report recommends that Sharia courts be closed on the grounds that they work against rather than for equality, and are incompatible with human rights. Recommendations include:

  1. initiating a Human Rights challenge to Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and/or Sharia Councils
  2. amending the Arbitration Act under which the Muslim Arbitration Tribunals operate in a similar way to which the Canadian equivalent of the Arbitration Act was amended in 2005 to exclude religious arbitration
  3. launching a major and nationwide helpline and information campaign to inform people of their rights under British law
  4. proposing legislation under the EU Citizens Rights Initiative to address the issue EU-wide
  5. strengthening secularism and the separation of religion from the state, the judicial system and education, in order to more fully protect citizenship rights.


26th June

Update: Downing Street Protest Against Sharia...

A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights

sharia law in britain Several hundred people joined One Law for All on 20 June at Downing Street to show their opposition to Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and to demand universal rights and secularism.

A new report Sharia Law in Britain was published on the day to coincide with the rally. Human rights activist Gita Sahgal said of the report: I think it is highly significant that in Britain there has been silence where there should have been condemnation. There is active support for 'Sharia laws' precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can't be a problem. Unfortunately for us, senior law officers will find that human rights expert bodies often have a similar attitude. They have done little research on the impact of family laws and the denial of justice caused by parallel systems of justice. That is why the findings of this report are so important. It is such dedicated work that changes the thinking of the experts.

MC Fariborz Pooya of the Iranian Secular Society said: The One Law for All Campaign has brought to centre stage an important debate about the kind of society we want to live in whilst defending the rights of everyone irrespective of religion, race, nationality…; this Campaign is truly the voice of the voiceless.

Anna Waters of One Law for All's Legal Team said: Any reasonable interpretation of the Human Rights Act shows us that there are certain things that it doesn't allow - and one of the things it doesn't allow is for a woman to have an inferior or second class status when she stands before a judge in a court of law. This is exactly what is happening…

Gerard Phillips of the National Secular Society said that Sharia Law was nothing less than an attack on human rights and on equality. He went on to say: It undermines our democracy. It must be opposed.

The rally also heard from others including Naomi Phillips of the British Humanist Association, poets from the Anti-Injustice Movement and singer Adam Barnett.

Protestors then joined a march organised by Iran Solidarity to the embassy of the Islamic regime of Iran. Patty Debonitas of Iran Solidarity UK said: By coming today you are showing your solidarity with the people here who are victimised under Sharia law and people in Iran who are being victimised under the state power of Sharia. The rally was held on 20 June to mark the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan at a protest in Tehran last year and link the fight against Sharia here with that in Iran and elsewhere.


9th July

Offsite: One Law for All...

What isn't wrong with Sharia law?

OneLawForAll logo The recent global day against the imminent stoning of Sakine Mohammadi-Ashtiani in Iran for adultery is an example of the outrage sparked by the brutality associated with sharia law's penal code.

What of its civil code though – which the Muslim Council of Britain's Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra describes as small aspects that concern marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children ? According to human rights campaigner Gita Sahgal, there is active support for sharia laws precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can't be a problem …

Now a report, Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights, reveals the adverse effect of sharia courts on family law. Under sharia's civil code, a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. A man can divorce his wife by repudiation, whereas a woman must give justifications, some of which are difficult to prove. Child custody reverts to the father at a preset age; women who remarry lose custody of their children even before then; and sons inherit twice the share of daughters.

...Read the full article


17th October

Update: Enslaved by Sharia...

UK sharia court cleric rejects concept of rape in marriage

Sharia Council UK logoA senior Muslim cleric who runs Britain's largest network of sharia courts has sparked controversy by claiming that there is no such thing as rape within marriage.

Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, said that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because sex is part of marriage. And he claimed that many married women who alleged rape were lying.

He told the The Samosa website: Clearly there cannot be any rape within the marriage. Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity... Because when they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage. Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable.

Later he told this newspaper: In Islamic sharia, rape is adultery by force. So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape. It is reprehensible, but we do not call it rape.

Dave Whatton, Chief Constable of Cheshire and spokesman on rape for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: We know that the majority of rapes do not take place through strangers attacking women late at night but between acquaintances and within marriages and partnerships.

It is a fundamental principle that sharia law should not replace the laws of the UK. Putting out views that rape can be dealt with in another way fundamentally undermines everything we are trying to do.

Sheikh Sayeed said the Islamic Sharia Council had only dealt with two or three cases of rape since the arbitration tribunal was founded in 1982. Asked about how men who are found to have forced themselves upon their wives were punished, he explained: He may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough.


9th June

Update: Jurisdiction Creep...

A House of Lords bill is introduced to restrict sharia law tribunals in Britain

Baroness Cox Witness Broken World Lady Cox has proposed a House of Lords bill to restrict sharia law. She says that the aim is to prevent discrimination against Muslim women and jurisdiction creep in Islamic tribunals. Islamic courts would be forced to acknowledge the primacy of English law under the bill

The bill is backed by women's rights groups and the National Secular Society, was drawn up because of deep concerns that Muslim women are suffering discrimination within closed sharia law councils.

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill will introduce an offence carrying a five-year jail sentence for anyone falsely claiming or implying that sharia courts or councils have legal jurisdiction over family or criminal law. The bill, which will apply to all arbitration tribunals if passed, aims to tackle discrimination, which its supporters say is inherent in the courts, by banning the sharia practice of giving woman's testimony only half the weight of men's.

The tribunals should only be deciding civil disputes but two years ago the think-tank Civitas claimed sharia courts had crossed the proper limits of their jurisdiction and were regularly giving illegal advice on marriage and divorce.

Cox said they are increasingly ruling on family and criminal cases, including child custody and domestic violence. Jurisdiction creep had caused considerable suffering among women compelled to return to abusive husbands, or to give up children and property.

The bill requires public bodies to inform women they have fewer legal rights if their marriage is unrecognised in English law. Cox said she had found considerable evidence of women, some of whom are brought to Britain speaking little English and kept ignorant of their legal rights, suffering domestic violence or unequal access to divorce, due to discriminatory decisions made. We cannot continue to condone this situation. Many women say: 'We came to this country to escape these practices only to find the situation is worse here.'

The Bill's proposals include:

  • A new criminal offence of falsely claiming legal jurisdiction for any person who adjudicates upon matters which ought to be decided by criminal or family courts. The maximum penalty would be five years in prison.
  • Explicitly stating in legislation that sex discrimination law applies directly to arbitration tribunal proceedings. Discriminatory rulings may be struck down under the Bill.
  • Requiring public bodies to inform women that they have fewer legal rights if their marriage is unrecognised by English law.
  • Explicitly stating on the face of legislation that arbitration tribunals may not deal with matters of family law (such as legally recognised divorce or custody of children) or criminal law (such as domestic violence).
  • Making it easier for a civil court to set aside a consent order if a mediation settlement agreement or other agreement was reached under duress.
  • Explicitly stating on the face of legislation that a victim of domestic abuse is a witness to an offence and therefore should be expressly protected from witness intimidation.

Update: Government Not Keen

22nd December 2011. See article from by NSS Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood

I joined Baroness Cox and (NSS Honorary Associate) Baroness Flather in a private meeting in the House of Lords with Justice Minister Lord McNally and his officials, to make the case for Lady Cox's Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill.

Lady Cox went over the provisions of her Bill, which essentially seeks to impose Human Rights on the use of the Arbitration Act. Until now, the kind of arbitration covered by Act has been mainly concerned with the resolution of commercial disputes, but it has also become the back door method being used to impose sharia law. She recalled some of the moving personal testimonies she had received.

Lady Flather felt that many Muslim women were in a worse position in this country than in their countries of origin (or their family's origin). This was because the same (Sharia) justice applied, but they did not have the benefit of a large supportive family here, as they would have had there.


Lord McNally did not criticise any aspect of the Bill but told us that the Government was not keen for it to proceed to the next stage, a second reading debate. A key plank of the Government's objection seems to be that Sharia is not part of English law; but our Bill does not make it so. Nevertheless he had listened attentively and appeared to be receptive to our arguments about the unfairness of Sharia on women, particularly those seeking divorce where the husband has been violent. He undertook to report back to Commons Ministers.


21st June

Diary: Debating Sharia in the UK...

Discussion chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick MP

one law for all logo Debate at House of Commons
28 June 2011, 6-8pm

The discussion will take place in the House of Commons from 6-8pm on Tuesday June 28 and will be chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick MP. The meeting will be open to the public, space permitting; to attend, please RSVP

To help us make this event as successful as possible, we ask again that you contact your Member of Parliament and urge him/her to attend this important debate. When contacting your MP, please inform him/her that sharia law operates in a way which is not in the public interest as it discriminates against women and children as a matter of course. Examples you can cite include that under sharia, the testimony of a woman is worth only half of a man, and fathers get child custody rights regardless of the circumstances of the case. You may also highlight a growing campaign among sharia advocates to effectively decriminalise domestic violence for Muslims in Britain. Thanks to those of you who have already done so.


31st July

Updated: Sharia Controlled Zones...

Religious vigilantes supposedly set to impose sharia on London's Waltham Forest

shariah control zoIslamic extremists in Britain are supposedly set to kick off their new Sharia law enforcement zones across the country, under which gambling, smoking, drugs and prostitution would be strictly prohibited.

According to The Daily Star, the move will see specific areas flooded with thousands of stickers saying, no gambling, no music or concerts, no porn or prostitution and no drugs or smoking. The posters declare, You are entering a Sharia controlled zone - Islamic rules enforced.

The radicals will kick off their controlled zones in the London borough of Waltham Forest later this month, the report claimed. They also claim their hardline rules will be policed by thousands of Sharia vigilantes on the streets.

The well known 'preacher' Anjem Choudary has called the scheme an alternative to government attempts to combat violent extremism under the Prevent strategy. He said:

This will mean this is an area where the Muslim community will not tolerate drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, usury, free mixing between the sexes - the fruits if you like of Western civilization.

This will be a very heavy leafleting campaign aimed at both the Muslim and non-Muslim community in terms of what the Sharia means economically, socially and politically.

Update: Posters Discovered in Tower Hamlets

19th July 2011.  See article from

Extremist posters have been discovered in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets. It is understood the posters were found at council-managed housing blocks in Shadwell, next to the DLR and Overground station. The latest posters are identical to ones found in Waltham Forest and Newham.

Although they do not mention homosexuality, the posters are expected to cause concern among the local gay population.

A police spokeswoman said:

We are aware of a limit [sic] number of posters appearing in Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham. Officers are working closely with the local authority to have the posters removed as soon as possible.

Tower Hamlets council said:

The posters have been brought to our attention and with our partners, we have been removing them as and when they have appeared, and will continue to monitor the situation.

If any further posters are identified by the public, we would urge them to report it to the Metropolitan police on 0033 123 1212.

Update: March for Sharia

31st July 2011. See article from

Around 70 men from Muslims Against Crusades marched from Leyton to Walthamstow calling for the setting up of Sharia Controlled Zones in the UK which Islamic rules would be enforced by Muslims. There were several small counter-demonstrations by groups including the English National Alliance.

Muslims Against Crusades are a very small extremist fringe Muslim organisation led by Dr Anjem Choudary.

Anjem Choudary claimed that this march, the start of what was described as part of the Islamic Emirate Project and intended to pave the way for the establishment of Britain's first Islamic Emirate had support from a wide range of organisations, in fact it was only supported by a very small circle of him and his fellow extremists.

There was considerable media interest in this event, aroused largely by a poster campaign in several East London Boroughs including Waltham Forest, with small posters being stuck on bus stops and lamp posts declaring the area a Sharia Controlled Zone


19th August

Update: Not Allies...

One Law for All campaign against sharia law reports on far right groups with apparently similar ends...

not allies A new report by One Law for All explores how the far-Right has attempted to hijack opposition to Islamism for its own ends. It focuses on the British National Party, the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe/America, and exposes how their activities, associations, opinions and intentions reveal a racist and inhuman worldview, which must be resisted and criticised with as much vigilance as Islamism itself.

The recent massacre in Norway carried out by Anders Behring Breivik, (who praised the groups discussed in this report), has placed a spotlight on the new Islamisation and Crusader strain within far-Right politics, and the groups and individuals who promote its conspiratorial worldview. One Law for All's new report by Adam Barnett and Maryam Namazie provides crucial evidence for the struggles ahead, and argues for greater care in distinguishing between allies and enemies.

...And likens islamic groups calling for sharia zones to the far right

Based on article from

o law for all on sharia zos Recently, the Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades began what it called a campaign for Islamic emirates throughout Britain by putting up posters declaring areas of east London as sharia controlled zones . The posters stated that alcohol, gambling, and music were banned and the group said it was willing to patrol east London enforcing sharia. One Law for All maintains that Muslims Against Crusades is a far-Right group that intends to stir up mistrust and division and impose its medieval rules on the public. Sharia law is the demand of Islamists like Muslims Against Crusades to limit rights and freedoms and must not be tolerated. To oppose Sharia law is a defence of the rights of all citizens, including Muslims.

Clearly, Muslim Against Crusades is the mirror image of other far-Right groups and campaigns. They do not tolerate difference or dissent, are misogynist and wish to deny rights to women, and are homophobic -- often murderously so.

Whilst Muslims Against Crusades argue that they will solve social problems in these zones, in reality, they are offering a discriminatory, brutal and oppressive system with barbaric punishments and interference in people's private lives which will exacerbate problems. Rather, people need education, equality and citizenship rights amongst others.

Muslims against Crusades say women need their protection . On the contrary, we need protection from misogynist and religious laws and this protection will be supplied by a just, equal, and secular legal and political system not Sharia. The rape of women in countries governed by sharia often ends in the punishment of the raped woman, and rape and sexual abuse is widespread.

Sharia is not the answer. We must -- and will -- maintain our campaign for secularism, human rights, justice and equality until there is no Sharia and religious laws here in Britain or anywhere.


17th November

Diary: Sharia and Children Act...

Seminar organised by One Law for All

 OneLawForAll logo On 22 November, One Law for All will host a seminar on sharia law and the Children Act. In the first examination of its kind, One Law for All will claim that there is a real danger that children, within Muslim communities, are at risk of being exposed to sharia law rulings and removed from the protections of the Children Act. Sharia tribunals and councils are gaining ground across the UK. According to a sharia practitioner, the courts are increasingly hearing cases on matters concerning children.

The seminar will bring together experts on the Children Act, sharia law, and campaigners. It will coincide with the release of a new report by One Law for All examining the doctrine of sharia councils and tribunals and how these can or do affect children in Britain. Speakers include: Maryam Namazie, One Law for All; Anne Marie Hutchinson, Dawson Cornwell Solicitors; Diana Nammi, Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation; Sue Cox, Survivors Voice Europe; and Yasmin Rehman, Domestic Violence Intervention Project. The seminar will be chaired by One Law for All's Anne Marie Waters.

Booking Required


23rd January

Offsite: New Muslim Suffragettes...

The dangers of trying to help

The IndependentAn increasing number of Muslim women activists are receiving death threats, fatwas and even hate-mail from extremist male and female Muslims. Their crime: Rescuing fellow Muslim women from violent and life threatening situations.

With heightened media sensitivity surrounding forced marriage, honour based violence and domestic violence we are all too aware of the suffering experienced by vulnerable and marginalised Muslim women. But we know little about the Muslim women activists who risk their lives to fight for the rights of oppressed Muslim women. These women are the New Muslim Suffragettes (NMS) of The United Kingdom.

As wives and mothers themselves, they stand alone in their communities and apart from other prominent Muslim organisations, in offering sanctuary and support for vulnerable and marginalised women. The NMS provide refuge, advocacy and access to the British legal and welfare system for women whose daily lives consist of beatings, imprisonment, torture and even marital rape, as well as the mental health ramifications that unfold over time.

In seeking justice for Muslim women whose human rights have been eroded through hyper-conservative interpretations of Islam, the NMS turn to British Law. But in affording marginalised Muslim women their rights the NMS are perceived by extremist Muslims asfeminists , a term loaded in the Muslim world with connotations of modernity, resistance and westernisation, and perhaps more importantly a term which challenges the patriarchal underpinning of Islam dictated by extremist Muslims.

So they face a backlash in the form of persecution, intimidation and death threats. Fearing for their lives the NMS are forced into hiding and prevented from undertaking the very work they set out to achieve -- to highlight and prevent the gross abuse of human rights many Muslim women suffer. Instead the NMS risk becoming the vulnerable and marginalised Muslim women that they originally set out to help and support. It's time for the public to be aware of the plight of the NMS in the United Kingdom.

...Read the full article


8th April

 Offsite Article: Sex and Sharia...

UK Muslim women punished for failed marriages. By Charlotte Rachael Proudman

See article from


21st October

 Update: Sharia Courts about as Consensual as Rape...

Bill to require UK sharia courts to bow to basic human rights debated in the Lords

House of Lords logoRulings by informal religious councils and tribunals are sometimes no more consensual than rape, peers were told.

Baroness Cox, the independent peer and Third World campaigner, last year tabled a private member's bill in the Lords setting out plans to rein in a network of unofficial self-styled courts which apply Islamic principles.

They include legally recognised arbitration tribunals, set up primarily to resolve financial disputes using Islamic legal principles but which have taken on a wider range of cases.

There is also a network of informal Sharia councils , often operating out of mosques, dealing with religious divorces and even child custody matters in line with Islamic teaching.

The bill would make it a criminal offence for such bodies to style themselves as courts or those chairing them to pose as judges. It would also limit the activities of arbitration tribunals and explicitly require them to uphold equality laws including women's rights.

Baroness Donaghy said during the debate:

The definition of mutuality is sometimes being stretched to such limits that a women is said to consent to a process when in practice, because of a language barrier, huge cultural or family pressure, ignorance of the law, a misplaced faith in the system or a threat of complete isolation, that mutuality is as consensual as rape.

Lord Carlile, the legal expert, was among those backing the bill, but Baroness Uddin, the first female Muslim peer, claimed it would be viewed as another assault on Muslims .


23rd January

 Updated: Muslim Patrol...

Videos show vigilante group harassing people in a muslim area of London

muslim patrol video Londoners are reportedly being intimidated by a gang of hooded vigilantes who confiscate booze and order women to cover up in Muslim neighbourhoods.

Police have launched an investigation into the group, who call themselves Muslim Patrol, after footage emerged showing the men in vigilante mode harassing passers by, the Daily Mail reports.

In one scene the men are heard calling white women naked animals with no self-respect .

In another scene, the men snatch alcohol from people in the street claiming it's evil .

The group has filmed its antics and uploaded videos on YouTube. The most recent video was uploaded on Sunday.

Shot on a mobile phone, the latest footage shows a number of men intimidating people for various reasons shouting this is a Muslim area towards non-muslims.

Update: Low Scale

20th January 2013. See article from

In reality, it is clear that the video was shot in Tower Hamlets, near to the East London Mosque.

Nor is there a gang harassing the citizens of Tower Hamlets over their alcohol drinking or way of dressing. As Richard Bartholomew has pointed out, the patrol appears to consist of just two individuals, one of whom is holding the mobile phone with which the video is taken. There is moreover no evidence that they are connected to Choudary's minuscule band of nutters or indeed that they are part of any extremist network at all. Their behaviour was no doubt upsetting for the people they targeted, and hopefully they will be identified and charged with harassment, but if a couple of prats pulling a single Candid Camera type stunt constitutes a serious attempt by Islamist extremists to control London streets then words have lost all meaning.

Update: Another more intimidating example

22nd January 2013. See article from

The Commentator provides an update on its "Muslim patrol" report with a more recent video, also apparently from Tower Hamlets, in which the self-appointed mutaween target a man they take to be gay.

The harassment recorded here is significantly more unpleasant and intimidating than in the first video, and we can only hope that the people responsible are quickly identified, arrested and prosecuted.

However, it is almost certainly the same two individuals who are involved in this most recent video, one of whom carries out most of the actual harassment while the other records the victim's response on his mobile phone.

Update: Arrested

23rd January 2013. See article from

Two men have been arrested after a series of incidents in London saw members of the public harassed by self-styled vigilantes who posted footage of their activities online. One included a clip showing a man being subjected to homophobic abuse.

The Metropolitan Police said that two men were arrested in connection with a series of incidents that took place over the course of 12-13 January in east London. Videos of the incidents were later uploaded onto YouTube.

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Acton on Sunday while a 19-year-old man voluntarily attended an east London police station on Monday.

A Met spokesperson said: The pair were arrested on suspicion of GBH and Public Order offences and have been bailed to return to an east London police station on a dates in February and March pending further enquiries.

The Metropolitan Police Service takes these incidents very seriously and is pursuing various lines of enquiry with a view to identifying and prosecuting the individuals concerned.


8th April

 Offsite Article: Are Sharia councils failing women?...

bbc panorama 2013 logo BBC Panorama finds UK Sharia courts siding with violent husbands in abusive relationships

See article from


23rd April

 Update: Community Enforced Inequality...

BBC Panorama reports on the Secrets of Britain's Sharia Councils

panorama sharia courts BBC: Panorama - Secrets of Britain's Sharia Councils

Panorama goes undercover to investigate what is really happening in Britain's Sharia Councils - Islamic religious courts. Some women reveal they have suffered domestic violence ignored by these councils as campaigners say it is time to tackle the parallel legal system which can run counter to British law.

Offsite Comment: Enough

26th April 2013. See article from

As has been repeatedly stated, including in Sharia Courts in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights , women are being held to ransom, told to remain in violent situations, blamed for the violence they face, refused divorces over many years, and placed under undue pressure including with regards child access and welfare.

The programme confirms this. The undercover reporter is told not to contact police when she asks a senior cleric Suhaib Hasan (who has advocated stoning and amputation) whether she should report the violence she has suffered at the hands of her husband. Mr Hasan also wrongly tells her that if she were to report the violence to the police, she will have to leave the house . This is entirely untrue. In fact, an abused spouse may apply to the Court for an Occupation Order, which can remove a violent spouse from the home -- or a defined area surrounding the home -- and can impose criminal sanctions if the order is not obeyed. Mr Hasan's advice is misleading and deliberately aimed at frightening women in to adhering to the Sharia Council's authority. Hasan also repeats the Sharia position that a man has the right to hit his wife provided he leaves no marks. He asks if her husband beats her severely . When she questioned what was meant by severely , Hasan asks it leaves some bruises on your body? .

...Read the full article


15th August

 Update: Police Refuse Protection Against Threatened Violence...

Ex-Muslim woman threatened after anti-sharia comments on Channel 4's 4Thoughts programme

sharia law in britain video Following an interview on Channel 4 on Sharia law, Islamists have threatened Sudanese secular campaigner and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud with death, calling her a Kafira and Murtada who has offended Islam and brought fitnah . The threats have been reported to the police who have closed the case and advised that nothing could be done.

We the undersigned are extremely concerned about the safety of Nahla and that of her family in Sudan. We ask the authorities to investigate the threats made particularly by Mr Salah Al Bandar.

Nahla writes: I am most concerned with the harassment by Mr. Salah Al Bandar. Not only is he endangering my health and sense of safety and security in the UK, but he is also organising against me back in Sudan in ways that are potentially very dangerous for both myself and my family. As a consequence, my younger brother has been physically attacked in Sudan, my mother has been seriously threatened and I continue to get threats and have had to endure a number of cyber stalking episodes by Mr Al Bandar or his associates.

Mr Al Bandar claims to be a democratic, liberal Muslim who has been politically active and until recently a councillor with the Lib-Dem Party in Cambridgeshire; he is a director at the Sudan Civic Foundation in the UK.


His posts against Nahla and his labelling her Kafira , Murtadda and Zindiga has resulted in governmental and official bodies such as the General Administration of the Sudanese Armed Forces , Blue Nile Channel , and the official Sudanese governmental newspaper, Elentibaha speaking against the infidel woman in Britain who offends Islam and promotes nudity . These include: al Khartoum , el- Sudani , el-Ayam , and el-Ray el Aam , el watan , Hurriyat and a number of other local newspapers. A number of online platforms also considered it their headline news over a few weeks, including Sudan Motion, Sudan.Net, el-Nilain , Sudanile, Sudanforall, el-Rakoba , Sudaress, Mugren Net and others. A few Middle Eastern websites also reported the incident such as el-hiwar el-mutamdn , Kitabk and Alhurra TV.

We the undersigned call on the authorities to investigate Salah Albandar's bullying, harassment and threats against Nahla Mahmoud, prosecute him and guarantee Nahla's safety and security.

... see full open letter

Offsite: Update on the threat against Nahla Mahmoud

6th September 2013. See article from


19th October

 Update: Religious Thug...

Man pleads guilty to assault and threat when on 'Muslim Patrol' in East London

Old Bailey A Muslim, who was part of an east London gang of self-styled vigilantes calling themselves the Muslim Patrol, pleaded guilty in court to assaulting two people in the street.

Jordan Horner admitted two charges of assault and using threatening words and behaviour in January this year. Horner, who has previously been jailed for assaulting a photographer outside the home of a radical Islamist preacher, is said to have carried out the attacks with two other Muslim men. The latter two men deny all charges.

Scotland Yard launched an investigation into a number of incidents that took place in east London in mid-January in which a group of men threatened members of the public for drinking alcohol.

Horner carried out the assaults in Tower Hamlets, east London, as he and other members of the Muslim Patrol roamed the streets in the early hours of the morning last December and this January.

The group threatened to kill non-believers and shank them, meaning stab them. They also uploaded videos to YouTube criticising non-Muslims for being inappropriately dressed.

At about 4am on 6 January Horner and his group allegedly approached a group of five men walking along the street and snatched cans of beer out of their hands before emptying them into the gutter. Horner and his group allegedly said: Why are you poisoning your body? It is against Islam. This is Muslim Patrol. Kill the non-believers. One then told another to go get the shank in reference to a knife, but as the group of men started walking away Horner threw punches at two of them, hitting one in the jaw.


26th October

  Brutal Attack...

Concerns that Muslim Patrol vigilantes are continuing in East London

east lon beating video An American student has been beaten in East London's Muslim Patrol area after walking around openly drinking a bottle of beer.

Scotland Yard released security camera footage of Francesco Hounye being surrounded by thugs. Though there is no audio, the young asian men are seen gesticulating at Hounye before one provokes an altercation during which Hounye is repeatedly beaten and chased. The gang appear to smash a bottle into Houyne's face and then repeatedly kick and punch him as he tries to escape.

While it is not known if the attacks are directly related to the Muslim Patrols , the thuggery seems to do with the bottle of beer been carried.


7th December

 Update: Muslim Patrol vigilante thugs jailed...

But let off lightly as the prosecution did not invoke religiously aggravated offences
Old BaileyThree members of a self-styled Muslim Patrol vigilante group have been jailed for harassing, intimidating and assaulting people on the streets of east London while claiming they were enforcing sharia law.

A judge at the Old Bailey had heard that Jordan Horner, Ricardo MacFarlane, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons, had terrorised a couple for walking through Bethnal Green holding hands, told a woman in Stepney that she would be punished in hellfire because of the way she was dressed, and attacked a group of men who were drinking in Shoreditch.

Horner was jailed for a total of 17 months after pleading guilty to two charges of assault and two charges of using threatening words and behaviour. MacFarlane was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to affray, while the 23-year-old received a six-month sentence after pleading guilty to affray.

Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Rebecca Poulet QC told them:

When, on occasions, a person shows their intolerance of another individual, whether by aggression or violence and in such a way as to cause real fear to the individual, then the law can be invoked to protect that individual.

The judge said that her sentencing powers were restricted because the prosecution had chosen not to prefer religiously aggravated offences.


18th December

 Comment: Antagonising the people and business owners of Brick Lane...

Muslim extremists to rally against alcohol

brick lane street signA group of Muslim extremists plan to hold an anti-alcohol demonstration in London. Members of The Shariah Project, believed to be linked with hate preacher Anjem Choudary, are planning a rally in Brick Lane on Friday.

Abu Rumaysah, a spokesman for the group, told London 24:

There's a lot of problems in the area like anti-social behaviour caused by drinking and a lot of the Muslims are involved in selling alcohol in their shops.

But an East London Mosque official said the rally would antagonise local people and business owners .

Update: Doing their bit to promote islamophobia

15th December 2013. See article from

Muslim bullies have taken to the streets of London to demand that shops and restaurants refrain from selling alcohol.

Dozens gathered on Brick Lane to voice their disapproval, and warned retailers they face 40 LASHES if they continue to sell the product.

The sale of alcohol is prohibited by Sharia Law, and the protest, led by former Al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Choudary, reportedly targeted the area because of the large numbers of revelers who would be there for festive celebrations.

According to reports around 60 men and women handed over warning letters to Muslim-owned businesses in the area. Choudary allegedly told the crowd:

The shops are run by Muslims and they know they are selling alcohol and they know the sale and consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited. We cannot live among the non-Muslims and see this evil take place.

Update: Laws against inciting hatred: funny how an Islamist hate preacher is never prosecuted

18th December 2013. See article from by Sean Thomas

Telegraph logoAnd so we return to the case of Anjem Choudary, Britain's most eminent Hate-Preacher-Who-Also-Lives- On-Benefits. Choudary has hit the news again, just as he intended, this time for marching down Brick Lane threatening shopkeepers with 40 lashes if they don't stop selling alcohol. At the same time he has gone on record, acclaiming Muslim gangs (who recently attacked drinkers on London's streets), as fantastic .

Now, simple minded souls might wonder whether Choudary was breaking the law here: isn't it an incitement to violence, when you praise vicious mobs as fantastic ? Isn't it criminal, in some way, to menace shopkeepers with 40 lashes ?

...Read the full article


23rd January

 Update: UK muslim communities worryingly reported to be cold shouldering the police...

But the chief inspector of constabulary makes a point of not mentioning the elephant in the room
tom winsorThe chief inspector of constabulary, Tom Winsor, said 'some' ethnic minority communities are turning their backs on police and rarely, if ever, call them to deal with crimes as serious as murder and sexual assaults against children, instead dealing with them in their own way.

Winsor said police were never called to 'some' neighbourhoods because they administer their own form of justice , adding that this was not carried out by criminal gangs but by law-abiding people . Winsor explained to the Times:

There are some communities born under other skies who will not involve police at all. I am reluctant to name the communities in question but there are communities from other cultures who would prefer to police themselves.

There are cities in the Midlands where the police never go because they are never called. They never hear of any trouble because the community deals with that on its own ... They just have their own form of community justice.

They don't know what injustices are being perpetrated ... It's almost a closed book because we can't go there so don't know. It could be anything from low-level crime right up to murder... (honour killings) are the most extreme example. That is murder. There is no honour in it.


13th February

 Update: Keeping the Streets Safe from Thugs...

MP steps in to criticise religious vigilantes on patrol in east London

jim fitzpatrick Christian patrols, organized by a far-right party in response to so-called Muslim patrols, have put the local community and authorities on high alert in east London, with a local MP speaking out against political and religious vigilantes.

Jim Fitzpatrick, the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, made his comments after a joint statement earlier in the week by the local mayor, community religious leaders and the police. He said:

I think that the prospect of vigilantism, whether it be Muslim patrols or Christian patrols, is horrid. I want to see police patrols on our streets, not individuals with a religious or ideological axe to grind.

The far-right Britain First Party drove armored ex-Gulf War Army Land Rovers down the largely Muslim street of Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets on January 31, and handed out leaflets to passersby with such messages as: This is our country. You want to live here, you adhere by our laws.


15th February

 Update: Antisocial Religion...

Muslim extremist given an ASBO banning him from activism
HM Courts Service A Muslim convert who targeted members of the public as part of a campaign for a sharia state in Britain has been given a groundbreaking asbo, police have said.

Jordan Horner has been ordered to stop preaching in public, in a legal first. He had taken part in vigilante patrols and street protests promoting extreme versions of Islam in the city's East End.

He is also thought to have distributed leaflets and posters advertising a sharia controlled zone in Waltham Forest, the Metropolitan police said.

Horner appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday, where a series of restrictions were imposed. Among these was an order not to meet with Anjem Choudary, Royal Barnes, Ricardo McFarlane or Dean Le Page except for peaceful worship inside a mosque or other Islamic cultural centre . As well as being forbidden to preach and hand out leaflets in support of sharia law, Horner was banned from defacing public adverts.  The asbo will run for five years and be in effect throughout London.

Chief Superintendent Mark Collins -- Waltham Forest borough's commander -- said:

The granting of an asbo against Jordan Horner sends a clear message that extremist behaviour will not be tolerated on our streets.


23rd March

 Update: Inheriting Discriminatory Traditions...

Law Society publish guidelines for drafting sharia compliant wills
law society logo Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up discriminatory Sharia compliant wills.

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether. The documents, which would be recognised by Britain's courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock -- and even those who have been adopted -- from being counted as legitimate heirs. Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.

Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer leading a Parliamentary campaign to protect women from religiously sanctioned discrimination, including from unofficial Sharia courts in Britain, said it was a deeply disturbing development and pledged to raise it with ministers.

This violates everything that we stand for, she said. It would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves.

Everyone has freedom to make their own will and everyone has freedom to let those wills reflect their religious beliefs. But to have an organisation such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern.

The guidance, quietly published this month and distributed to solicitors in England and Wales, details how wills should be drafted to fit Islamic traditions while being valid under British law. The guidance goes on to suggest that Sharia principles could potentially overrule British practices in some disputes, giving examples of areas that would need to be tested in English courts.

It opens the way for non-Muslim lawyers in High Street firms to offer Sharia will drafting services. The document sets out crucial differences between Sharia inheritance laws and Western traditions.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said:

This guidance marks a further stage in the British legal establishment's undermining of democratically determined human rights-compliant law in favour of religious law from another era and another culture. British equality law is more comprehensive in scope and remedies than any elsewhere in the world. Instead of protecting it, The Law Society seems determined to sacrifice the progress made in the last 500 years.


30th April

  Sharia Watch...

UK campaign for greater recognition of the threat posed by Islamic Sharia law
sharia watch logo A new group has been launched at the House of Lords to campaign for greater recognition of the threat posed by Islamic Sharia law. Sharia Watch says it wants to highlight the impact of Islamism in Britain and campaign against the prevalence of Sharia tribunals, particularly where it relates to women's rights.

VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Anne Marie Waters, spokesperson for Sharia Watch.

Waters : Our aim is quite simply to tell the truth. There is a large lack of knowledge of what Sharia Law actually stands for, what it does to women, how it treats women. And our aim is simply to tell the public -- warts and all -- what Sharia is: its views of women, its views of free speech, its threat to democracy, how it is operating in Britain, the organisations behind it and what their agendas are, and, indeed, the public support that such organisations receive from public figures.

Where do you see the threat coming from?

It's acceptance of it by the mainstream, that is a huge issue. If you look at what Sharia says about women, for example, it essentially advocates the slavery of women. If you strip it away and bear it down, that's what it is, it's the slavery of women, it's the ownership of women. It degrades and humiliates women and yet it is accepted by the mainstream and supported by mainstream figures.

You say it's accepted; Britain still applies the rule of British Law, where do you see Sharia law coming in or being accepted in a way that makes you fearful?

We have a network of Sharia councils and tribunals which are dealing increasingly with matters of family law, such as divorce, child custody, but also with domestic violence, which is a criminal matter. No private tribunal or council has any right, any legal right, to adjudicate on criminal matters and yet they are doing it without a murmur of protest from the Establishment.

We're consistently told that the English law is there for everyone who needs it. This is a non-answer, a non-response. It's cowardly.

What they're essentially saying is that women who are brutalised often don't speak English, often are newcomers to this country. The government's response is that those women should somehow find the confidence and courage to stand up and demand rights they don't even know they have.

...Read the full interview