A new report by the Civitas think tank estimates that some 85 sharia courts currently operate in the United Kingdom, usually in mosques and behind closed doors. Many of their cases have to do with marriage or divorce. According to fatwas on websites of UK mosques, the courts are supposed to forbid Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men unless the latter convert. They are also supposed to grant custody of any male children over the age of seven to the father, regardless of other circumstances.
The Civitas report urges that sharia courts no longer be recognized under British law. A number of Tory politicians are on record opposing the use of sharia courts, as reported here, but the Labour Minister of Justice last year said “if, in a family dispute …the parties to a judgment in a sharia council wish to have this recognised by English authorities, they are at liberty to draft a consent order embodying the terms of the agreement and submit it to an English court.”
I wonder if there are any cases in which English courts have rejected sharia settlements. (Thanks to Rachel.)
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