Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain met with Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), on 28 June to raise our concerns about sharia courts in Britain and the Charities Commission’s refusal of charity status for secular organisations. Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto was also present at the meeting.
Below is our follow up letter:
Thank you once again for meeting with us. We appreciate your taking the time out to hear about the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All.
Just to highlight a couple of the issues we raised:
On One Law for All and Sharia Law
1) There are currently two major bodies carrying out sharia based arbitration and mediation in the UK – these are the Islamic Sharia Council (a registered charity) and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (operating as an independent tribunal under the powers of the Arbitration Act 1996).
2) Both bodies acknowledge that the bulk of their work is in family matters such as child custody, divorce, domestic violence (both a family law and a criminal law matter). The Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve in 2008 said arbitration in the UK was not intended for family matters.
3) Under sharia family law, a husband’s testimony is worth double that of his wife, children are sent to live with fathers regardless of the circumstances, and women have no right to divorce – even when violence against her is proven (see Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights.
4) Sharia family law has been described as “wholly incompatible” with human rights and democratic principles by the House of Lords.
Last year, Baroness Caroline Cox introduced a Private Members Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Bill to the House of Lords which is due a second reading this October 27th.
A new document compiled by Baroness Cox’s team as evidence to be presented to the Lords can be found here.
On the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s charitable status
As was mentioned, the Council of Ex-Muslims was denied charitable status whilst the Islamic Sharia Council remains a charity. Here are the reasons for refusal and our response, which remains unanswered.
Once again, thank you for agreeing to follow up on our meeting by contacting Baroness Cox, discussing the progress of her Bill, as well as having your legal team look over it. You also agreed to look in more detail at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal and its use of the Arbitration Act 1996, as well as the validity of its agreements in UK Courts and the Islamic Sharia Council’s charitable status along with the Charity Commission’s refusal of charity status for the Council of Ex-Muslims.
Thank you for your support in this vital campaign for human rights and equality. We look forward to working closely with you and your future replacement on these important matters.
Anne Marie Waters
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919 London WC1N 3XX
One Law for All
BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731