Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a review of traditional Islamic ‘sharia’ courts.
Speaking to the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, she said the enquiry would focus on whether or not these informal community courts ever issue rulings incompatible with English law, stressing that it would be unacceptable for any to do so.
“I am very aware of the fact that there is concern about how sharia law, in terms of sharia courts, is operating in some circumstances here in the UK. That is why we will be doing a review of sharia courts.”
The announcement follows recent claims that sharia courts in Britain routinely discriminate against Muslim women in family matters, frequently denying them a religious divorce from unwilling husbands and failing to take claims of domestic violence seriously.
Nus Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden in East Sussex, said many saw the courts as “far-right Islamist movements whose main aim is to restrict and deny rights, particularly those of women and children”.
The MP, whose parents were Pakistani, added:
“These sharia courts are not going to be advising in line with the British rule of law and our rule of law trumps any “pop-up” sharia court.”
Details of the review are expected shortly, with a report due sometime in 2016.