Imagine the leading mosque in Saudi Arabia issuing a statement welcoming the establishment of medieval-style Christian law courts in that country. Wouldn’t happen, would it?
But this is precisely what is happening in Britain. The Church of Scotland has welcomed the possibility of introducing shariah law courts in Scotland—ignoring the fact that Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, does not even allow Christian churches to be built or Christian church services to be held.
Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Church and Society Council, said “What is being brought to us is not some kind of parallel jurisdiction that replaces our legal system; rather it is a space, within a given community, for disputes to be resolved.”
He added that shariah courts had been “unfairly portrayed” but in the same breath said that shariah courts must “not break fundamental tenets of the Human Rights Act and the rights of women must be respected.”
His comments follow revelations that the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT), based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was holding secret talks with lawyers and community groups about setting up shariah courts north of the Border.
The group is believed to be aiming to set up courts in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In September it emerged that five shariah courts, ruling on civil cases from divorce to domestic violence and financial disputes, had been operating for more than a year in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and at MAT headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
The courts have legal powers, with their decisions enforceable through the county courts or high courts.