Monday, September 15, 2008

Sharia in Britain

It's highly likely that there will be an island off the shore of France for a good long time to come, but it's looking less likely all the time that there will always be an England. Some excerpts from a much longer article:

Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.…

The disclosure that Muslim courts have legal powers in Britain comes seven months after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was pilloried for suggesting that the establishment of sharia in the future “seems unavoidable” in Britain.

In July, the head of the judiciary, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, further stoked controversy when he said that sharia could be used to settle marital and financial disputes.

In fact, Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.
Can this possibly work? Two different legal systems in the same country are bound to come into conflict eventually. Given the prevailing social climate, which one will take precedence? I suspect it will be the one whose supporters are more willing to use violence to support its rulings. Since in a civil society violence is the monopoly of the state, this amounts to setting up a parallel government. Having two governments in one country is an unstable condition. One is bound to prevail over the other. It will be interesting, in the "may you live in interesting times" kind of way, to see how this plays out. Will John Bull stand up, or roll over?

No comments: