Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for saying there are places in England where police are afraid to go because they are ruled by Muslim law, but is he right?
Since making that statement several law enforcement officials have said Trump’s claims were accurate and now a new book, “Choosing Sharia” set to be released in January documented the iron fist of Sharia courts in Britain.
Dutch scholar Machteld Zee was granted access to one such court where she documented an antiquated style of law in the UK’s Sharia courts, of which Zee says there are around 85, that treat women like second class citizens forced to stay in abusive and adulterous marriages, according to the Daily Mail.
Down the corridor, another vulnerable Muslim woman is telling a second elderly cleric about her ill-fated marriage. This woman, in her 30s, says that at 19 she was coerced by her family into marrying a Bangladeshi illegal immigrant (who duly gained British citizenship). They had two children, but the relationship floundered.
“There was a lot of fighting. He threw stuff at me. He put me in debt,” she says.
The husband, to whom she gave £38,000 during their time together, is now back in Bangladesh, where he’s taken a second wife. The woman has not seen him for four years, and therefore wants a divorce.
But the cleric won’t grant one. Instead, says a witness, he decides to ‘tell her about the ‘scientific biologic reasons for polygamy.’”
In another documented case a man and woman feared their marriage may be invalid because the woman got a secular and not an Islamic divorce from her first husband.
The cleric told them that by Islamic law one way to rectify the situation would be for the couple to divorce, have the woman marry a third man, sleep with him, divorce him, then “wait three menstrual periods” before going back to her current husband.
Misogyny wasn’t just limited to marriages either, the Daily Mail report documented.
For example, the first ruling made in 2008 by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal in Nuneaton (Britain’s first Sharia court whose judgments complied with the Arbitration Act, making them legally binding) involved an inheritance dispute between three sisters and two brothers.
The tribunal found, in accordance with standard Sharia principles, the male heirs should be given twice as much money as the women.
The Islamic Sharia Council, which Dee observed, disputes many of her claims and has called for her university to revoke her PhD but the Daily mail reported that a close look at some of the court’s leadership raises serious questions.
Take, for example, the late Shaykh Sayyid Matawalli ad-Darsh, who founded the ISC (which is a registered charity) in 1982, stating that he wanted to create “a quasi-Islamic court.”
Born in Egypt in 1930, he came to the UK in the Seventies as the imam of the Regent’s Park Mosque, which later became notorious for its links to extremism.
During his career there, he became a noted proponent of fundamentalism, saying in one documented lecture that ‘there is no minimum age’ for marriage because “the guardian of children, both male and female, has the right to conduct a marriage agreement on their behalf.”
Two years before his 1997 death, when he was a trustee of the ISC, he gave an interview saying he ‘fully sympathised’ with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation whose links to extremism are currently the subject of a review ordered by David Cameron…
Take also al-Darsh’s successor as president of the ISC, the aforementioned Maulana Abu Sayeed, who remains one of the organisation’s three trustees to this day. A cleric who sits in judgment over the marital disputes heard in its courtrooms, he made headlines in 2010 by telling an influential blog that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted, because “sex is part of marriage.”
Clearly there cannot be any rape within the marriage. Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity, he said.
Abu Sayeed added that women who say they have been raped should not immediately go to the police. Many of them are lying, he claimed, “because they have got this idea of so-called equality, equal rights…”
Then there is Shaykh Suhaib Hasan, the ISC’s co-founder who remains a trustee, sits in judgment in its courts, and was also observed by Zee. In 2007, he made headlines following a Channel 4 documentary called Divorce Sharia Style, in which he appeared to express a desire to impose Sharia law on the UK.
“If Sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace,’ he argued, ‘because once a thief’s hand is cut off, nobody is going to steal. Once, just once, if an adulterer is stoned, nobody is going to commit this crime at all.”
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