The BHA, amongst others, are calling for a statement from Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, after reports that she is ‘sympathetic’ to the idea of introducing Islamic ‘sharia family law’ into the UK legal system. The initial report came from the very man trying to convince her of the virtues of such a system, so is perhaps not to be trusted. Especially when you hear that he said:
‘We told her if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.’
I’m surprised he wasn’t kicked out of the building. I’m not Ms Kelly’s biggest fan, but I find it hard to believe she’s actually of the mindset suggested. A clear statement to this effect seems like a good idea.
‘Sharia family law’ is deeply sexist, for example: a husband may divorce his wife by saying the word ‘talaq’ three times (even if he says it in his sleep). Women may not. The husband then gets full custody of children, and the distrubition of money is heavily in his favour. That’s not to mention other elements of sharia law which seem to fall under the ‘family’ banner, such as men being allowed to marry up to four women simultaneously, physical punishment of wives being permissible, women needing to seek permission from the husband before leaving the house…It’s hard to find any element that seems like it could be part of a decent society.