One of the most important aspects of democratic society is that everyone regardless of race. colour or religion should be able to receive equal treatment before the law. No legal system is perfect and there will always be a need to revise, reform and even abolish laws to ensure that fairness and justice are central to any form of Legal contract between the state and its people.
Last week a new organisation was launched in the House of Lords called Sharia Watch. Their press release states:
Sharia tribunals and councils currently operate a system of family law in the UK which denies women unilateral divorce rights – even in cases of domestic violence. Sharia family law also denies child custody to women and treats their testimony as worth less than that of their husbands....
The report ‘Sharia Law – Britain’s Blind Spot’ will demonstrate how such organisations are regularly represented in the media as “moderate” and indeed are endorsed and supported by mainstream public figures.
Sharia Watch UK will show the public, and our political leaders, the extent of the threat that sharia and Islamic extremism pose to the rights and freedoms of women, freedom of speech, and democratic principles.
Anne Marie Waters opens the debate:
Sharia Watch UK believes in freedom of religion, but we say that its practice must remain within the laws that have been set down by Parliament. To this end, we aim to expose the ways in which sharia law operates in Britain in contravention of the law. We will also highlight the areas in which sharia advances within the parameters of the law.
We call on the UK government to recognise that the establishment of a sharia state, or campaigning for such, is itself an extremist position. We base this on the fact that a sharia state would involve profound mistreatment of women and girls (including forced marriage and unequal legal status), the implementation of barbaric punishments (including stonings and amputations) and the complete destruction of freedom of speech and democracy.
We urge the UK government to immediately cease all funding of groups with such extremist political views, to arrest and charge people where there is evidence of any breach of laws, for example incitement to violence against women or Jews, and to ensure that laws on public order and discrimination are upheld equally across all communities irrespective of religion, cultural beliefs or background.
We urge the UK government to make a clear, unequivocal and public denouncement of sharia law and Islamist ideology, and to ensure all laws which prevent extremism are applied to the groups named in this report.
Sharia Watch UK makes a clear distinction between Muslims as human beings, and Islam as a system of belief. We believe strongly that all Muslims should be afforded equal human and civil rights alongside all other citizens. We believe equally strongly that Muslims must also be burdened with the same responsibilities as all other citizens. However, we assert that Islam is a belief system like any other and as such is liable to scrutiny, criticism, and ridicule and that it is the democratic right of all British citizens to be free to discuss any belief system, and to hold any opinions on that belief system, as they see fit.
We wish to make it clear that the information contained in this report is intended to inform both the British public and our elected representatives of the true beliefs and political philosophy of various “mainstream” Islamic organisations in the UK. We ask that the government recognises the extreme nature of such beliefs and condemns these accordingly.
Full report can be read here: http://www.shariawatch.org.uk/articles/special-report-sharia-law
Meanwhile in an update to a previous post, there is a demonstration against the Law Society tomorrow: