8 May 2013
The Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, the institution which was the subject of a recent BBC Panorama documentary on sharia councils in Britain, has criticized the BBC for its undercover reporting and for editing the footage out of context.
The documentary features an undercover BBC reporter posing as a woman complaining of domestic abuse, and shows members of the Islamic Sharia Council staff urging her to go to the police only as a last resort. The documentary alleges that some women who turn to these sharia courts are not aware that their rulings on such matters as child custody disputes are not legally binding. The Islamic Sharia Council has challenged the impartiality of the BBC investigation, asserting that the Panorma crew had a “pre-determined agenda and stereotype of how shariah councils operate.”
For its part, the BBC has rejected accusations of impropriety, saying in a statement to the Guardian, “Panorama fully stands behind its investigations into the workings of some of Britain’s Sharia Councils.” The documentary, entitled: “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” has garnered the attention of many British politicians and was heavily referenced in a recent parliamentary debate on the role of sharia courts in the United Kingdom.