Controversial Sharia courts have been set up in major towns and cities to impose Islamic law and enable Muslims to shun the legitimate British legal system.
Last night religious leaders and politicians expressed outrage that Sharia law is gaining an increasing foothold in our society.
Critics insisted that the Government is allowing a two-tier legal system to flourish in the name of political correctness and that the authority of UK justice is being undermined.
The Daily Express can reveal that one of the controversial courts has been set up in the home town of the 7/7 London bombings ringleader.
Mohammed Siddique Khan was responsible for the Edgware Road Circle Line explosion which killed six people and injured 120. Our investigation has found that the Sharia court system has been set up in the heart of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and that it is a model for others across the country which are operating outside the British legal process.
The Dewsbury court is called the Sharee Council – another term for Sharia – and operates as a Muslim judiciary making decisions by which attendees must abide.
In many countries, hard-line interpretations of the Islamic law allow people to be stoned to death, beheaded or have their limbs amputated.
Non-Muslims are excluded from the secretive court which is registered as a charity to receive British tax benefits.
Although the court has no official legal standing, scales of justice adorn a sign outside a former pub building which has been converted by the Islamic Institute of Great Britain.
Last night the Sharia courts were blasted by both Christian and Muslim groups for their non-democratic attempts to establish their legal system.
Mark Wallace, campaign manager of the Freedom Association said: “British society must be one of free speech, free personal choice, democratic freedom and fairness.
“If individual Muslims wish to inform their decisions by the teachings of Sharia, that is fine, but they must do it within the structures of British law and they must understand that sharia will never be acceptable as the legal system of the UK.”
His views were echoed by the Muslim Council of Britain, whose spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said: “We believe one legal code should apply for all citizens of the UK. There is no place for multiple legal systems for people of different religious or ethnic backgrounds.”
Dewsbury councillor Imtiaz Ameen, a Muslim, said: “Some people advocate total Sharia law but you cannot have it being the case in any country that there is one law for one and one law for another.”
Critics say the Government has not done enough to stop radical Muslim groups establishing their brand of law.
Liberal thinkers in the Government claim that the law enables full-face veil-wearing Muslim women who are afraid of British courts to gain justice the “traditional way”.
But one insider told the Daily Express that the Sharia court, which is run from the backroom of a Madrasa – an Islamic education centre – in Dewsbury is just one of “dozens” operating in Asian communities. And a leading Muslim commentator claimed similar courts exist in every major city across Britain.
The Madrasa – which is a former pub situated less than a mile from the one-time home of London bombing mastermind Khan – sits as a court every other weekend and hears up to 10 cases a day.
Four Muslim scholars, who have spent their life studying and preaching the Koran, sit in judgment on an array of cases alongside a Muslim solicitor whose role is to advise on the implications of their rulings in British law.
The operation is headed by prominent scholar Sheikh Yaqub Munshi. Accounts for the Dewsbury court’s parent company the Islamic Research Institute of Great Britain, show that it was registered in Dewsbury as a charity in 1996 with the ethos of promoting the advancement of Islamic religion and education in the United Kingdom.
Charitable status allows the organisation to claim tax relief and apply for government grants and trustee funding.
Between April 1999 and April 2004 its gross annual turnover rocketed from £2,500 to above £177,000. At the end of the last financial year it recorded total funds of £255,000 but it is not known if or how it charges for use of the service.
At the moment, the leaders insist they only deal with civil matters such as Muslim divorces, wedding dowries and asset sharing.
But the secretive Muslim-only nature of the dealings will provoke fears that radical Sharia law could be allowed to spread across the Muslim population. The source said: “These courts take the law into their own hands and dish out punishment for bad behaviour.
“I have not heard of physical punishments being used but those in the wrong are often ordered to pay compensation. Many who have no respect for British law are the most stringent observers of Sharia law.”
Sheikh Yaqub admitted that introducing Sharia law into the UK has been his goal since moving to Britain from Pakistan in the 1960s.
But he insisted its main aim is to help repressed women who are trapped in bad or violent marriages and who dare not use British law.
He said: “Ever since I arrived here in the 1960s there has been a case of women being forced to get married, others forced to get married, but unhappy afterwards. Until now there was no organisation which could Islamically solve their problems.”
Sharia is derived from the Arabic translation Sariah and outlines Islamic law according to the Koran. The term means “way” or “path” and gives the Islamic framework within which people must regulate their lives according to the Muslim faith.
After the Sharia court has ruled in judgment, solicitors process matters officially through UK courts on their clients’ behalf.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, said: “Sharia courts now operate in most larger cities, with different sectarian and ethnic groups operating their own courts that cater to their specific needs according to their tradition.”
Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, said: “I am absolutely appalled and find the prospect of such courts totally terrifying. Places like this should be closed down or else everybody will want to establish their own courts.
“How many more places like this are there in the UK? Who knows where it could all end? It simply cannot be tolerated.”
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after an April 30, 2007 article in The Daily Express