BBC Panorama Programme on Sharia: It is enough now

One Law for All
Press Release

This week’s BBC Panorama programme “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” confirms why One Law for All has been campaigning against the discriminatory parallel legal system running counter to British law for nearly five years.

As has been repeatedly stated, including in “Sharia Courts in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights”, women are being held to ransom, told to remain in violent situations, blamed for the violence they face, refused divorces over many years, and placed under undue pressure including with regards child access and welfare.

The programme confirms this. The undercover reporter is told not to contact police when she asks a senior cleric Suhaib Hasan (who has advocated stoning and amputation) whether she should report the violence she has suffered at the hands of her husband.  Mr Hasan also wrongly tells her that if she were to report the violence to the police, she “will have to leave the house”.  This is entirely untrue.  In fact, an abused spouse may apply to the Court for an Occupation Order, which can remove a violent spouse from the home – or a defined area surrounding the home – and can impose criminal sanctions if the order is not obeyed.  Mr Hasan’s advice is misleading and deliberately aimed at frightening women in to adhering to the Sharia Council’s authority.  Hasan also repeats the Sharia position that a man has the right to hit his wife provided he leaves no marks. He asks if her husband beats her “severely”.  When she questioned what was meant by “severely”, Hasan asks “it leaves some bruises on your body?”.

Mr Hasan goes on to advise the undercover reporter to question herself as to what she had done to provoke this violence.  He suggests she ask her husband “is it because of my cooking?”, “is it because I see my friends?”.

Women’s rights organisations have for many years been working to end this disgraceful victim-blaming when women are abused, and great strides have been made.  These strides, however, do not seem to apply to Muslim women.

Whilst Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Northwest, Nazir Afzal, asserts that “most of them are absolutely fine but there are some clearly, like this one, who are putting women at risk”, One Law for All believes that all Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals put women at risk. This is because the problem lies not with rogue councils or judges disrespecting the tenets of Sharia but is the result of a strict adherence to the Sharia.

Under Sharia law, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s, men have unilateral rights to divorce whilst women have very limited rights to divorce. Women must give up their dowry if the husband refuses a divorce. Child custody goes to the father at a pre-set age and violence is not considered so if it leave no marks. The Sharia councils have made this very clear as have proponents such as Women for Sharia.

Sharia Councils continue to deceive the public by asserting that they adhere to protections available under British law when exposed; however in practice much of their rulings contravene available protections under civil law.  They also attempt to intimidate those who expose or question their rulings. The Sharia Council has accused the Panorama programme of libel, reminded them of the lessons of the Leveson enquiry, and accused them of feeding into racism against Muslims. Clearly, though, the women whose rights are being violated are also Muslim and a demand for equality and one law for all aims to put an end to the racist practice of having separate and different standards and laws for those deemed to be “different”.

Whilst all people have a right to religion or atheism, Sharia courts have nothing to do with the right to religion and everything to do with political power.  Saying Sharia Courts are a right is like saying discriminating against women is a right. There is no right to oppress and discriminate against.

Nonetheless, the Councils have managed to get away with murder.

Both the previous government (which allowed them to evade investigation) and the current one, which asserts that existing legislation is sufficient to address this matter have shown nothing but moral cowardice and betrayed a large segment of British society.

It is enough now.

The British government must put the rights and equality of all citizens over and above any religious laws and put an end to this human rights scandal once and for all.

The public are urged to continue to exert pressure on the Government. Clearly our message is getting through. We must keep fighting till we win.

You can also sign One Law for All’s petition against Sharia law, which has 29000 signatories.

Support Baroness Cox Equalities Bill, which was inspired by One Law for All, here.

For more information, contact:
Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters
One Law for All
BM Box2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8122621.


  1. Contessa de Metoncula says

    Where are the Politicians in charge condemning and prosecuting this kind of behaviour? Anybody not adhering to the Laws of the Land, should be subjected to immediate deportation. The Sharia Law and its implementations should be condemned and punished to the fullest extent of the Law of the Land. Those who don’t like it, please leave and go back to your backward country.

  2. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Contessa de Metoncula,

    Most of those involved in the UK will be British citizens, who could not be legally deported even if they committed mass murder. I suggest you stick your racism where the sun doesn’t shine.

  3. says

    Islam is not out-dated that’s why it the largest practicing religion and what Muslim do in their prayers: In the name of Allah (GOD), the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. [All] praise is [due] to Allah (GOD), Lord of the worlds – The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Recompense. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path – The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

    Women were not allowed to inherit property before Islam. Many girls were killed shortly after being born (just like in India today). These are a couple of the improvements Islam bought to women. There are many more. Please don’t generalise from your ignorance.

    Shari’ah incorporates Islamic practice (prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, charity, shahadah), civil law, and criminal law. To what do you object? Prayer? Civil law (people are entitled to resolve their civil law differences by whatever means they like, in the UK)?

    Sharia Law is legal in the UK for Civil and domestic use. In 1996, Parliament passed the Arbitration Act setting out rules under which parties in a dispute have the right to go to an impartial tribunal to get justice without expensive litigation. Muslims lawyers interpreted this as meaning that sharia courts could act as arbitration panels under the Act, they began in 2007, and their decisions are legally binding under UK law. There are currently about 85 Sharia courts in the UK, mostly attached to mosques. Polygamous marriages are recognised by the UK authorities because there are several known cases where a husband is paid benefits for more than one wife. Under Sharia Law Muslims are allowed to marry more than one wife in the UK……and guess what, they can even claim benefits for the extra wife.

    No one is advocating the establishing of Sharia law in an non Muslim country . But should not Muslims like Jewish people be able to have their own religious weddings and divorces according to their own beliefs. It was Muslims in their own lands who first allowed non Muslims to be able to practice their own laws and this was enshrined in Islamic law nearly 1400 years ago . It was Muslims who gave shelter to the Jews when they were thrown out of Europe during the inquisition and during pogroms. Muslims never burnt people alive or tortured them for their beliefs. Islam is not associated with denial of human rights – actually historically Islam provided documentation for human rights.
    West is still racist, xenophobic and Islamophobia. It is unable to forget and forgive the siege of Vienna in 1683.

    The so called terrorism in Islam is just like a ‘mole-hill’, when compared to a mountain of ‘Western domination & terrorism’.

    The so called “Western” Society has much larger & serious questions to answer than any Islamic Mullah or Islamic Extremist. When I see that Islam is being targeted as evil and barbaric – I cannot help but find what the so called ‘Modern Western Civilization’ has to offer – the worst things packaged in attractive sheets !

  4. beardymcviking says

    Thanks Nick, 100% agree.

    Anyone flouting the law like this should be immediately *prosecuted*, and the results of that legal process should be respected. Failing to do so seems to be nothing more than political cowardice.

  5. Sabrina says

    I agree with Iftequar . West is just being paranoid . Muslims were the first civilization to give people of other religions their individual rights . They did when western countries did not even recognize their Christian brothers and sisters if they belonged to a different sect . They are doing the same to the muslims now . How a person gets married or divorced or how their property is shared is not the business of the state . And western people should not be asking for their freedom when they live in muslim countries. They not only request individual freedom like drinking , but also impose their laws on us

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