Tarry for the Nonce

November 29, 2006

More Problems Than Solutions

Filed under: Politics — lmwalker @ 2:34 pm

The Telegraph is quite blasé about the alternative judicial system in the U.K.

Sharia, derived from several sources including the Koran, is applied to varying degrees in predominantly Muslim countries but it has no binding status in Britain.

However, the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action produced evidence yesterday that it was being used by some Muslims as an alternative to English criminal law . . .

Mr [Aydarus] Yusuf told the programme he felt more bound by the traditional law of his birth than by the laws of his adopted country. “Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law,” he said. “It’s not sharia, it’s not religious — it’s just a cultural thing” . . .

Dr Prakash Shah, a senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary University of London, said such tribunals “could be more effective than the formal legal system” . . .

Mr [Faizul Aqtab] Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.

How it is possible in a single egalitarian society to have two separate rules of law? If we aren’t all judged by the same standards, how can we be bound by the same rules? And, on an individual basis, how do you know which court do you belong to? Must you officially declare which “law” you are bound by? Can you elect which court to be prosecuted in? Could I end more sentences with a preposition?

It’s just a bad, bad idea. If there is to be a separate judicial system, there should be a separate legislature. And if there is to be a separate legislature, there may as well be a separate country. At a minimum, unblur the lines. Two different courts in the same country should not have jurisdiction over the same things.

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3 Comments

  1. Very interesting…

    Mr Yusuf told the programme he felt more bound by the traditional law of his birth than by the laws of his adopted country. “Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law,” he said. “It’s not sharia, it’s not religious — it’s just a cultural thing.”

    In other words, Mr. Yusuf considers himself a colonizer in Britain. It would be smart for the British authorities to realize that a large portion of its immigrant Muslim population views itself that way.

    Sharia’s great strength was the effectiveness of its penalties, [Yusuf] said…

    Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College Islamic University, near Nuneaton, Warwicks, said this type of court had advantages for Muslims. “It operates on a low budget, it operates on very small timescales and the process and the laws of evidence are far more lenient and it’s less awesome an environment than the English courts,” he said.

    Now that is how you do euphemisms. What a bland way of saying that the Muslim “courts” dispense with annoying rules of evidence, and then mete out punishments that might be — shall we say — misunderstood by the host country.

    Mr Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.

    Well, at least we have a hint as to how quickly Muslim “refugees” plan to colonize England.

    Comment by Toly — December 2, 2006 @ 5:18 am

  2. Alternative judicial systems sound OK to me as long they are strictly voluntary and do not disregard the existing legal system.

    For example, in the US, people can agree to settle disputes via binding arbitration, which is given strong deference in US courts, and which can operate with alternative rules and procedures. I even read an article a year or so ago about some American Christians settling their disputes via religious “courts.” (Sorry, no link.)

    Applying this framework to criminal courts is quite a bit trickier, however, but that seems to be what they are trying to do. If the victim agrees to drop charges and defer to the alternative court, then that sounds fine to me. If the prosecutor believes that a more important social purpose (e.g. protecting everyone else from a crazed ax murderer) is served by pressing the case anyway, then the sovereign state obviously trumps the informal court.

    Comment by Troy — December 6, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  3. I have deep-seated concerns about the “voluntary” nature of such courts. What happens to minors, and, more specifically, young girls whose rights are trampled in the name of religion? To whom do they appeal?

    The courts would operate under a different rule of law. That’s a terrible precedent to set.

    Comment by laura — December 6, 2006 @ 2:09 pm


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