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UK ‘should issue Islamic divorces’

English courts should be able to issue Islamic divorces, an academic claims.

In written evidence which will be presented to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Zurich University Associate Professor in Middle East studies Elham Manea will argue for a specialist unit to be set up for this purpose. She will also urge the government to make civil marriage mandatory any time a couple enters an Islamic one.

While Muslim men can divorce their wives simply by reciting the Arabic phrases ‘ant taliq (you are now divorced) or tallaqtuki (I now divorce you) three times, the process is more difficult and costly for women. In order to obtain a religious divorce, wives must go to a judge in a specialised Sharia court. After four years of research focused on the UK’s Sharia councils, Manea called this system “inherently discriminatory”.

She will tell the Committee that most of the Muslim women who attend these councils have not had their marriage recognised by English law so they can often suffer financially when they divorce. In order to correct this problem, she argues, civil and religious marriages must be linked like they are in such countries as Tunisia and Morocco.

Manea will also call for a national campaign to officially register all Islamic marriages in the country, a move she claims is likely to reveal many cases of polygamy.

Conservative MP Nus Ghani sits on the Committee and initially pushed for an inquiry on the subject of Islamic marriage. She said that under the Sharia system “men are in charge and women are treated as their property”. The British government cannot advocate “equality for women on one hand and but on the other [overlook] a whole section of society – vulnerable women who happen to be Muslim” the Wealdon MP declared.

Last year, a Dutch legal scholar claimed the British Sharia courts system kept Muslim women in “marital captivity”.

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  1. Andrew says:

    No, Professor.
    First, there can be no divorce where there has been no marriage. Those whom neither God nor man hath joined together no-one can put asunder.
    Second, I don’t know how it is in Switzerland, but we have no mechanism for finding out whether people have gone through an Islamic “marriage” in this country. If they don’t tell us we don’t know.
    And third, if English courts issued purported Islamic divorces who on earth will recognise them? In Islamic eyes the couple will still be married – and she will be unable to marry in as Islamic ceremony.
    As you will know, Marilyn, when Jewish people marry in this country the ceremony is normally civil as well as religious; similarly, but under slightly different arrangements, when non-Anglican Christians marry. The key is that they must all give notice to the Registrar and must declare that they are free to marry in the eyes of the English law – that is single. it is for the Muslim powers-that-be to introduce the same arrangements here and refuse to celebrate Muslim ceremonies unless there has been a civil marriage first – or unless the ceremony is also the civil ceremony, which it can be if certain not very onerous hoops are jumped through.
    As for divorce, as you will know a Jewish ecclesiastical “get” divorce can only be processed in conjunction with a civil divorce. Any Muslim talaq divorce pronounced in this country without a parallel civil divorce should simply be ignored and the marriage regarded as continuing.
    The problem of the civil divorce without a get/talaq remains a headache, and the Act of 2003 has done all that can be done.

  2. Dr Grumpy says:

    Further erosion of UK law. If you live in the UK then you abide by UK law.
    If that doesn’t suit you then you need to find somewhere that does. Too much pandering going on here

  3. Andrew says:

    Any two people who are free to marry by English law (single, old enough, not within the prohibited degrees) can be married by the registrar for £116; £35 for each notice and £46 for the ceremony. It’s hardly exorbitant, is it? The you can have any religious ceremony you like.
    The point is that the civil ceremony IS the marriage; no civil ceremony, no marriage.

  4. JamesB says:

    In the words of Margaret Thatcher, who I’m not a big fan of, No, No, No.

  5. JamesB says:

    Let’s hear more about the Islamic specialist Tsar for Islamic women that Theresa May appointed as per Conservative manifesto. Would be interested to hear what he / she is doing, or perhaps he / she is like the politicians, very busy but not able to say producing what.

    He / she was supposed to look into this sort of thing and how to integrate and have more pluralism and secular and cohesive society and I am fully behind him or her on that and reforming England and Wales family law to do that. Other than that, if I were to go for a religious law, I don’t think I would go Islamic, they have been known to stone people and chop hands off. Perhaps Buddhism seems a bit more live and let live, but not sure as don’t know how the settlements go, any religion which says couples to sort finances out between them reasonably on divorce is better than the current dodgy law we have in E and W.

  6. JamesB says:

    Like these people :

    What have they been doing, or perhaps they came up with nothing like EU reforms. Would be good if they did more than talk on some things like this and less on other things, like csa.

  7. JamesB says:

    I meant, if I were forced to do religious law other than Christianity perhaps would be Buddhism, I’m a Christian not a Buddhist. Think Richard Gere became a Buddhist. That said, I just looked up the list of celebrity Buddhists and the list literally made my jaw drop, perhaps there is something in it.

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