One-in-four French Muslims follow ‘hardline’ Islam

A study showing that more than a quarter of French Muslims follow hardline Islam is causing discomfort for the political class, which is united in ignoring its conclusions.

Among the survey’s findings are that 28 percent of Muslims questioned follow an “authoritarian” interpretation of texts advocating a break with French society; or that more than 40 percent of young Muslims (aged 15-25) consider Islamic Sharia law more important than the secular law of France.

“They (young French Muslims) feel rejected,” Hakim El Karoui, who co-authored the report for the Institut Montaigne think tank said. “French society is sending them the message: you are not French. In a way they are getting revenge by hanging on to the identity they have.”

The embrace of hardline Islam was strongest among young Muslims who lacked jobs or strong qualifications, added El Karoui. Overall, a plurality of French Muslims — 46 percent — considered the practice of their religion totally compatible with local rules and customs.

The study should be causing waves. It’s the first major snapshot of how French Muslims view their own beliefs to be published in France, and it comes after a wave of Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks.

And yet, public reaction to the study is partial, and strained.

Robert Ménard, a far-right mayor known for his provocative positions, tweeted a link to the report, followed by the question: “Is a confrontation [with Islam] inevitable?”

Left-wing magazine Télérama took a sarcastic stance, calling the findings “unsurprising” and criticizing the study’s methodology.

“For the time being it’s total silence from the administration,” Fanny Anor, one of the study’s co-authors, said. “What we are trying to do is create data that allows us to analyze these questions based on solid evidence, so we can avoid debating purely on impressions.”

“But that’s a very uncomfortable position for the government,” she added.

While Prime Minister Manuel Valls has repeatedly voiced alarm over the spread of “political Islam” in France, the Montaigne study shows where it’s coming from: young Muslims who lack jobs and professional skills, and feel as though the French state has turned its back on them.

To rekindle faith in the French system, the study’s authors argue, France should bring the alienated population into the workforce by overriding hiring discrimination through the use of ethnic and religious statistics.

“They [politicians] feel trapped,” added Anor. “After the terrorist attacks, it’s an awkward camp to be in, arguing for measures to fight discrimination.”

 

BBC Responds to Criticism of Panorama Documentary

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.

 

Oklahoma Senate panel approves bill prohibiting judges from basing decisions on foreign law

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma lawmakers are considering banning judges in the state from basing any rulings on foreign laws, including Islamic Sharia law.

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A Senate panel on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the bill, which has broad support in the Republican-controlled Legislature. The bill would specifically make void and unenforceable any court, arbitration or administrative agency decision that doesn’t grant the parties affected by the ruling “the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions.”

“This is a way to protect American citizens … where somebody may try to use any kind of foreign law or religious law to affect the outcome of a trial,” said Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, who sponsored the bill. Shortey described it as “American Law for American Courts.”

“This bill is entirely unnecessary and creates significant uncertainty for Oklahomans married abroad as well as those Oklahomans who have adopted a child from another country or are seeking to do so,” Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said in a statement. “These Oklahoma families don’t deserve to have this type of doubt cast over them.

“It also creates an atmosphere of uncertainty for foreign businesses seeking to do business with Oklahoma businesses.”

Britain debates Sharia courts

19 November 2012

 

The implementation of the Sharia (Islamic law) in the UK has been a very controversial topic. Although certain aspects of Islamic law have been implemented in the UK for a decade, certain sections of the society seem to be resisting the idea.

 

Rulings under Sharia law are enforced through the 1996 Arbitration Act, which warrants any form of agreement provided that both parties agree to adhere to its decision. Since then practicing Muslims have been seeking remedies from the Islamic law at the Sharia courts to resolve disputes among themselves.

 

Sharia law was first brought to the attention of the public in 2008 when Dr Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, in a BBC interview remarked that adoption of some aspects of Islamic Sharia law in the UK “seemed unavoidable”. He then received some hostile reactions and his remarks were then followed by a report on Sharia courts. According to the report published by a think thank called Civitas in 2009, around 85 Sharia courts operate in Britain. The report claimed that the decision of these courts most of the time are incompatible with British common law and “inherently discriminatory against women in matters relating to child custody, domestic violence and divorce.”

 

The use of Sharia in the UK came under heavy criticism from the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), which is campaigning to stop its use in Britain:

 

”We have spoken to many women and all of them tell us the same story; sharia law is not providing them with the justice they seek. The councils are dominated by men, who are making judgements in favour of men,” said Diana Nammi, a spokesperson for IKWRO.

 

Further Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, has long opposed the use of Sharia in the UK, and argued the rule of law “must not be compromised by the introduction of a theocratic legal system operating in parallel”.

 

 

On 7 June 2011 Baroness Cox introduced a new Bill in the House of Lords that aims to outlaw the Sharia law where it conflicts with English law. In proposing the new Bill she said:

 

“Through these proposals, I want to make it perfectly clear in the law that discrimination against women shall not be allowed within arbitration. I am deeply concerned about the treatment of Muslim women by sharia Courts. We must do all that we can to make sure they are free from any coercion, intimidation or unfairness. Many women say, ‘we came to this country to escape these practices only to find the situation is worse here’.”

The Bill will receive a second reading later this year.

 

According to a BBC report however, increasing numbers of British Muslims are using these courts to resolve family and financial disputes. In the report Sheikh al-Haddad, a representative of the Islamic Sharia Council, the biggest Sharia body in the UK states that ”Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years, on average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that”.

 

Further, a leading UK barrister Sadakat Kadri supported the use of Sharia law in the UK. He told the Guardian that sharia courts were good for “the community as a whole” by putting Sharia on a transparent, public footing and should be more widely accessible to those who want to use them.

 

Kadri said they played a role in safeguarding human rights: “It’s very important that they be acknowledged and allowed to exist. So long as they’re voluntary, which is crucial, it’s in everyone’s interests these things be transparent and publicly accessible. If you don’t have open tribunals, they’re going to happen anyway, but behind closed doors.”

Nation of Islam leader, Farrakhan, condemns killing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi

CHICAGO — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Tuesday said the killing of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was “an assassination” and predicted the U.S. was unprepared for the looming backlash from his overthrow.

During an interview with a Chicago radio station, Farrakhan laid Gadhafi’s death at the feet of the U.S., Great Britain and France. Gadhafi was killed last week, two months after being ousted following a 42-year reign that turned his oil-rich country into an international pariah and his own personal fiefdom.

Farrakhan also noted that the people now claiming leadership of Libya are advocating Islamic Sharia law, something that he contends the U.S. has opposed.

Loan Dilemma for Muslim Students in the UK

22.08.2011

In light of changes to the tuition and student loan system in the UK, which lead to higher tuition fees and interest rates on loans, Muslim student groups are calling for a separate student loan system, as paying interest conflicts with some interpretations of Islamic (Sharia) law. This conflict may prevent some Muslims from applying for university – unless a scheme is in place allowing them to finance their studies in a way that is compatible with Islamic law. As the Independent reports, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) called the interest rate increase was a “pressing issue”. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is currently negotiating with student groups. However, so far, it is uncertain how this issue will be resolved.

South Carolina bill would nullify Islamic law in state courts

A South Carolina proposal would prevent the state’s courts from enforcing foreign law, including Islamic Sharia law, though Muslim advocates say it could essentially ban religion from mundane matters such as weddings and even burials.

The bill makes no reference to a specific religion or country, though its sponsors acknowledge they worry about the ultraconservative tenets of Sharia law, or Islamic religious law. At least 13 states have introduced similar measures this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Muslim advocates, however, fear the proposal could essentially ban mundane religious practices in legal documents like wills, which may distribute property based on Islamic traditions.

Non-Muslims turning to sharia ‘courts’ in Britain to resolve disputes

Growing numbers of non-Muslims are turning to Sharia “courts” to resolve disputes in Britain, it has been claimed. Up to five per cent of cases heard by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) involve people who do not follow the Islamic faith, it has been estimated.

The body operates court-like arbitration hearings in London, Bradford, Birmingham, Coventry and Manchester, mainly dealing with disputes between business partners and mosques. Those who use the service agree voluntarily to submit to its adjudication but its rulings are considered to be legally binding and can be enforced in county courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act. A separate body, the Islamic Sharia Council, has been operating for several years, hearing divorce cases with a panel of seven “judges” based in London.

The MAT said that the greater weight attached to oral agreements in its hearings than the courts was making its service attractive to non-Muslims in Britain, who it estimates are now involved in one in 20 of its cases. “We put weight on oral agreements, whereas the British courts do not,” said Freed Chedie, a spokesman.

Sharia courts in the UK

For the first time, the Islamic Sharia Council has granted access to a newspaper to observe the entire sharia legal process in Britain. Over several weeks, the author was allowed to witness the filing of complaints, individual testimony hearings and the monthly meeting of imams, or judges, where rulings are handed down.

Sharia has been operating in the UK, in parallel to the British legal system, since 1982. Work includes issuing fatwas – religious rulings on matters ranging from why Islam considers homosexuality a sin to why two women are equivalent to one male witness in an Islamic court. The Islamic Sharia Council also rules on individual cases, primarily in matters of Muslim personal or civil law: divorce, marriage, inheritance and settlement of dowry payments are the most common.

However, sharia is also being used informally within the Muslim community to tackle crime such as gang fights or stabbings, bypassing police and the British court system. A few hardline leaders would like it to be taken even further. One religious leader said that Britain should adopt sharia punishments such as stoning and the chopping off of hands to reduce violent crime.

First Islamic UK business account

Lloyds TSB is to offer the UK’s first business account by a High Street bank that complies with Islamic law The accounts, offered throughout the firm’s 2,000 strong branch network, will not pay interest in order to meet the requirements of Islamic Sharia law. In addition, money held in the accounts cannot be invested in certain industries such as gambling or alcohol.”