October 29, 2008

Sharia family law legally binding in UK

by David Masters

The government’s justice minister has confirmed that decisions made according to Islamic law can be ‘rubber stamped’ as legally binding in the UK’s courts.

Sharia law, a set of rules and principles which Muslims live by, is not legally binding in Britain.

However, justice minister Bridget Prentice has said that divorce rulings passed by a Sharia council can be ‘rubber stamped’ as legally binding by British courts of law.

The Sharia tribunals will be able to decide how money and property is divided between a couple, and who gets custody of the children.

Decisions will only be ratified if they comply with ‘English legal tenets’, said Prentice.

Critics have warned that Sharia law should not have an official role in the UK as it discriminates against women.

Under Sharia law, a woman’s testimony is not given equal weight to the testimony of a man.

In addition, it is feared that allowing Islamic law in the UK will create further divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims, and could cause Muslims to become increasingly marginalised.

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