The Sunday Times reports that Sharia courts are now in effect and their judgements are being enacted in British law. This is utter injustice:
"Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.
The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.
In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.
In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations."
These are not the fuzzy sort of judgements that apologists for the Archbishop promised would be the only ones Sharia courts could make. These are women being denied a fair share in inheritances or not having their complaints of domestic abuse followed up (after they have been pressured into accepting that they are not victims of a crime deserving of punishment). Even if their choice to use these courts was free they are signing away their legal rights as these judgements become binding and are enforced by conventional courts.
We have now created a situation where British Muslim women have to choose between their British rights or their Muslim ones. Anyone who has read the vital "Crimes of the community" (PDF) report by the Centre for Social Cohesion will know that such a choice is often far from free.
Equality before the law is dead. We might step in if some troublesome soul won't take no for an answer but otherwise many Britons now live by a different legal code to the rest of us. Such an important principle didn't die because the British public stopped caring about it or were too apathetic to make their voices heard. They reacted with utter fury at the suggestion that Sharia should be admitted as a part of British law. I'm not aware of any party manifesto ever having proposed integrating Sharia into the British legal system or even of any significant politician endorsing the idea in public.
It just sort of happened. Just like the recognition of polygamous marriages or countless other surrenders of our values that the British people never endorsed. It came about thanks to a combination of a lack of proper scrutiny of laws, this clearly isn't what the Arbitration Act was intended for, and a feeble establishment desperate for the false sense of security that can be had by appeasing those demanding Sharia.
We need a democratic revival or Britain's most cherished values are at risk.