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Dec 16 2008

CALL FOR END TO SHARIA COURTS AFTER REPORT SHOWS WIDESPREAD INJUSTICE

Press Release
December 16, 2008

A new report showing that Muslim women are discriminated against and encounter gross bias when they subject themselves to Sharia adjudications was welcomed today by The One Law for All Campaign, which is supported by a variety of organisations and individuals.

The campaign’s spokesperson Maryam Namazie said: ‘This research reinforces our own findings that Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are discriminatory and unfair. However, the solution to the miscarriages of justice is not the vetting of Imams coming to the UK as the report has recommended but an end to the use and implementation of Sharia law and religious-based tribunals.’ She added: ‘At present these Sharia-based bodies are growing and appear to have some sort of official backing. But they are leading to gross injustices among women who are often unaware of their rights under Britain’s legal system.’

This perspective was reiterated in the One Law for All Campaign’s launch on December 10, 2008 in the House of Lords at which Maryam Namazie and campaign supporters Gina Khan, Carla Revere, Ibn Warraq and Keith Porteous Wood spoke; the meeting was chaired by Fariborz Pooya, head of the Iranian Secular Society.

Gina Khan, a secular Muslim, said: ‘Under British law we are treated as equal and full human beings. Under the antiquated version of Sharia law that Islamists peddle, we are discriminated against just because of our gender. These Islamists use our plight by meddling in issues like forced marriages, domestic violence and inheritance laws for their own political agenda. To allow them to have any sort of control over the lives of Muslim women in British communities will have dire consequences.’ She added: ‘Sharia courts must be a pressing concern not just for Muslims but for all those living in Britain. Anyone who believes in universal human rights needs to stand united against the discrimination and oppression visited upon Muslim women.’

Carla Revere, Chairperson of the Lawyers’ Secular Society, said: ‘Such self-appointed, unregulated tribunals are gaining in strength; they increasingly hold themselves up as courts with as much force as the law of the land, but are not operating with the same controls and safeguards. They appear to be operating in the area of family law and some even in criminal matters, where they have no right to make binding decisions as they claim to do. Even if the decisions were binding, UK courts do not uphold contractual decisions that are contrary to UK law or public policy. We call on the Government and legal establishment to stand up for the vulnerable and tackle this significant and growing problem, rather than ignoring it.’

Writer Ibn Warraq said: ‘Sharia does not accord equal rights to Muslim women- in regards to marriage- she is not free to marry a non-Muslim, for instance; in regards to divorce, custody of children, inheritance, the choice of profession, and freedom to travel, or freedom to change her religion. In other words, Great Britain in allowing Sharia courts has contravened the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and all the other more legally binding United Nations’ Covenants on Discrimination and the Rights of Women… Multiculturalism is turning communities against each other, it is fundamentally divisive. We need to get back to the principles of equality before the law, principles that so many people fought so hard to achieve for so long.’

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: ‘Sharia is becoming a growth industry in Britain, putting growing pressure on vulnerable people in the Muslim community to use Sharia councils and tribunals to resolve disputes and family matters, when they could use the civil courts. Sharia law is not arrived at by the democratic process, is not Human Rights compliant, and there is no right of appeal.’

Writer Joan Smith who was unable to speak at the launch sent the following message: ‘This campaign is very important because many people in this country – including politicians – have yet to realise the isolation of many Muslims, particularly women, from the wider society. Some of them are already under intolerable pressure from their families, and the principle of one law for everyone is a protection they desperately need. That’s why I give this campaign my whole-hearted support.’

To find out more or support the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain visit its website.

You can also listen to Maryam Namazie’s debates with Sidiqqi, head of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, on BBC 5 Live and with Muslim lawyer Aina Khan on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour here.

To listen to Gina Khan’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Maryam Namazie’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Carla Revere’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Ibn Warraq’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Keith Porteous Wood’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

Some of the signatories to the Campaign

Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Coordinator, Stop Child Executions Campaign, Canada
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany; Coordinator, International Committee against Stoning, Köln, Germany
Sargul Ahmad, Activist, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Canada
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Writer, Washington, DC, USA
Mahin Alipour, Coordinator, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Stockholm, Sweden
Homa Arjomand, Coordinator, International Campaign against Sharia Courts in Canada, Toronto, Canada
Farideh Arman, Coordinator, International Campaign in Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran, Malmo, Sweden
Abdullah Asadi, Executive Director, International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Sweden
Ophelia Benson, Editor, Butterflies and Wheels, USA
Susan Blackmore, Psychologist, UK
Nazanin Borumand, Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings, Germany
Roy Brown, Past President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Geneva, Switzerland
Ed Buckner, President, American Atheists, USA
Marino Busdachin, General Secretary, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Netherlands
Center for Inquiry, USA
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK
Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany, Germany
Council of Ex-Muslims of Scandinavia, Sweden
Caroline Cox, Peer, House of Lords, London, UK
Austin Dacey, Representative to the United Nations, Center for Inquiry-International, USA
Shahla Daneshfar, Central Committee Member, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, London, UK
Richard Dawkins, Scientist, Oxford, UK
Patty Debonitas, TV Producer, Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism, London, UK
Deeyah, Singer and composer, USA
Nick Doody, Comedian, UK
Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium
Afshin Ellian, Professor, Leiden University Faculty of Law, Leiden, Netherlands
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Sweden
European Humanist Federation, Belgium
Tarek Fatah, Author, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, Toronto, Canada
Caroline Fourest, Writer, France
Tahir Aslam Gora, Writer and journalist, Canada
AC Grayling, Writer and Philosopher, London, UK
Maria Hagberg, Chair, Network against Honour-Related Violence, Gothenburg, Sweden
Johann Hari, Journalist, London, UK
Christopher Hitchens, Author, USA
Farshad Hoseini, Activist, International Campaign against Executions, Netherlands
Khayal Ibrahim, Coordinator, Organization of Women’s Liberation in Iraq; Arabic Anchor for Secular TV, Canada
International Committee against Executions, Netherlands
International Committee against Stoning, Germany
International Humanist and Ethical Union, UK
Iranian Secular Society, UK
Shakeb Isaar, Singer, Sweden
Maryam Jamel, Activist, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Canada
Keyvan Javid, Director, New Channel TV, London, UK
Alan Johnson, Editor, Democratiya.com, Lancashire, UK
Mehul Kamdar, Former editor of The Modern Rationalist, USA
Naser Khader, Founder, Association of Democratic Muslims, Denmark
Hope Knutsson, Chair, Sidmennt, Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, Iceland
Hartmut Krauss, Editor, Hintergrund, Germany
LAIQUES – Région PACA, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
Stephen Law, Editor, Royal Institute of Philosophy journal, London, UK
Shiva Mahbobi, Producer, Against Discrimination TV Programme, London, UK
Houzan Mahmoud, Abroad Representative, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, London, UK
Doreen Massey, Peer, House of Lords, London, UK
Anthony McIntyre, Writer, Ireland
Caspar Melville, Editor, New Humanist magazine, London, UK
Bahar Milani, Activist, Children First Now, London, UK
Tauriq Moosa, Writer, Capetown, South Africa
Reza Moradi, Producer, Fitna Remade, London, UK
Douglas Murray, Director, Centre for Social Cohesion, London, UK
Taslima Nasrin, Writer and activist
National Secular Society, London, UK
Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings, Germany
Samir Noory, Writer; Secular TV Manager, Canada
David Pollock, President, the European Humanist Federation, London, UK
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, Pakistan
Fahimeh Sadeghi, Coordinator, International Federation of Iranian Refugees-Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada
Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Chief Executive Officer, Giordano Bruno Foundation, Germany
Udo Schuklenk, Philosophy professor, Queen’s University, Canada
Sohaila Sharifi, Editor, Unveiled, London, UK
Issam Shukri, Head, Defense of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq; Central Committee Secretary, Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq, Iraq
Bahram Soroush, Founding member, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, London, UK
Peter Tatchell, Activist, London, UK
Hamid Taqvaee, Central Committee Secretary, Worker-communist Party of Iran
Union des Familles Laïques – section Arles-Istres, France
Union des Familles Laïques – section Marseille-Aix-en-Provence, France
Afsaneh Vahdat, Coordinator, Council of Ex-Muslims of Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden
Marvin F. Zayed, President, International Committee to Protect Freethinkers, Ottawa,Canada

For more information, please contact Maryam Namazie, email: [email protected], telephone: 07719166731; website: onelawforall.org.uk.

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