February 08, 2008

British Sharia Courts (Updated)

Apparently, Sharia Law courts have been quietly operating in Britain for some time and it's unwelcome news to some people. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, revealed their existence in a speech today.

An Islamic Council in Leyton also revealed that it had dealt with more than 7,000 divorces while Sharia courts in the capital have settled hundreds of financial disputes.

Today's revelations came as controversy raged over Dr Williams's call for parts of Sharia law to be adopted in Britain.

His comments were condemned by Downing Street, the Tories and the chairman of the Government's Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

They were described as a "recipe for chaos" by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.

Along with the Islamic Council in Leyton, there are reports of at least two other Sharia courts sitting in London.

There are also courts in a number of other areas of the country with high Muslim populations, including Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, Birmingham and Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

So, how does the Islamic Kingdom of Britain sound? The nation seems to be trending that way.

[Update 02/09/08]

In response to Dr. Rowan Williams statements, the Australian government has unequivocally ruled out the introduction of Islamic courts in Australia. A similar proposal had previously been dismissed by the Howard government in April 2005.

Yesterday the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, also ruled out introducing Islamic law, or sharia. "The Rudd Government is not considering and will not consider the introduction of any part of sharia law into the Australian legal system," he said.

The Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, said everyone who came to Australia should accept the existing laws.

"Now this is a ham sandwich to a crocodile," he said. "The idea that in some way you would change your basic values, culture and law to accommodate some people who feel that they don't want to see themselves as Australians first, above all else - under no circumstances would I support that."

The ham sandwich-crocodile reference isn't explained but, nonetheless, kudos to the Aussies.

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