Sharia law is ‘not fit for the UK’, says a Labour Muslim MP

A Labour Muslim minister has warned that Islamic law is too unsophisticated for Britain. Sadiq Khan said women could be ‘ abused’ by sharia courts, which may give unequal bargaining power to the sexes. He said: ‘The burden is on those who want to open up these courts to persuade us why they should.’ Mr Khan, who was made a community cohesion minister in this month’s Government reshuffle, rejected the argument that the courts could operate in the same way as the Jewish Beth Din courts. He said Muslim life in Britain was not advanced enough to run a similar religious legal system.

The MP for Tooting in South London added: ‘I would be very concerned about sharia courts applying in the UK. ‘I don’t think there is that level of sophistication that there is in Jewish law.’ He also said that sharia courts would discourage Muslims from developing links with other cultural and ethnic groups. In February Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, gave his support for the courts in Britain, saying that the legal recognition of them ‘seems unavoidable’. Mr Khan, who is a human rights lawyer and one of only a handful of Muslim MPs, said: ‘The requirement to learn English is not colonial. English is a passport to participation in mainstream society – jobs, education and even being able to use health services. ‘Having poor English creates multiple barriers to work,’ he writes in the pamphlet for the left-of-centre Fabian Society.

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Muslim MP calls for religious equality law

A minister has called for the Government to introduce a new religious discrimination law which would require public bodies to have a legal duty to promote equality between faiths, to reassure Britain’s Muslims that they are not second-class citizens. Sadiq Khan, a government whip, wants a forthcoming Single Equality Bill aimed at stamping out discrimination on grounds of sex, race, gender and disability to include religion. He also calls for “Islamophobia in the workplace” to be tackled. Under his proposal, public bodies would have to be proactive in tackling religious discrimination. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, chaired by Trevor Phillips, would issue guidance and codes of practice. “This would not apply exclusively to British Muslims, but it would make a significant difference to the experience of members of this community who, because of socio-economic status, are particularly reliant on public services,” Mr Khan says. The Tooting MP, one of four Muslim Labour MPs, makes his controversial call in a Fabian Society pamphlet, Fairness not Favours, published today. He says a proactive approach to prevent religious discrimination would balance “harder edged” measures such as “clampdowns” on immigration and security and undercut attempts by Muslim extremists to exploit social disadvantage.

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MCB instructed on engaging with Muslims

UK’s largest Muslim Umbrella body has welcomed Sadiq Khan MP’s “incisive and thoughtful analysis” of the Muslim community in his Fabian Society pamphlet Fairness not Favours: How to reconnect with British Muslims. Mr Khan proposed a number of recommendations for The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in the pamphlet published on Wednesday. “Some may be challenging, and will require debate – and the Muslim Council of Britain seeks a dispassionate discourse devoid of the usual rhetoric that comes with discussion about Muslims. MCB supports Mr Khan’s proposal that government should deal with Muslims on the basis of ‘engagement’ rather than ‘endorsement’, on a fair and equal footing,” it said in response. Khurshid Drabu, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the MCB, said: “This is an insightful and candid contribution to a challenging and much misunderstood agenda. Sadiq Khan’s experience, intellect and standing can be trusted to voice the legitimate expectations of the political establishment from Muslims as citizens and of Muslims for fair and equal treatment. “His analysis of relevant issues is courageous and his recommendations require positive action from all sides. The MCB welcomes this excellent intervention. We are very pleased to note that Sadiq Khan asks for introduction of positive duty in the legislative framework for elimination of discrimination on grounds of religion in the areas of the provision of goods, facilities and services. The MCB has for many years been campaigning for this pressing need. Muslims do not seek favours. We seek fairness.”

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Muslim MP calls for religious equality law

A minister has called for the Government to introduce a new religious discrimination law which would require public bodies to have a legal duty to promote equality between faiths, to reassure Britain’s Muslims that they are not second-class citizens. Sadiq Khan, a government whip, wants a forthcoming Single Equality Bill aimed at stamping out discrimination on grounds of sex, race, gender and disability to include religion. He also calls for “Islamophobia in the workplace” to be tackled. Under his proposal, public bodies would have to be proactive in tackling religious discrimination. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, chaired by Trevor Phillips, would issue guidance and codes of practice. “This would not apply exclusively to British Muslims, but it would make a significant difference to the experience of members of this community who, because of socio-economic status, are particularly reliant on public services,” Mr Khan says. The Tooting MP, one of four Muslim Labour MPs, makes his controversial call in a Fabian Society pamphlet, Fairness not Favours, published today. He says a proactive approach to prevent religious discrimination would balance “harder edged” measures such as “clampdowns” on immigration and security and undercut attempts by Muslim extremists to exploit social disadvantage.

Britain’s first alcohol-free ‘Islamic’ pub

The country’s first Islamic pub opened last December in Oldham and is open for non-alcoholic business only. Behind the bar of The Halal Inn there are fizzy drinks and fruit juices, including non-alcoholic spritzers and buck’s fizz for those special occasions. In addition to tea and coffee, a range of Asian snacks is available, while _Islamic’ songs are played over loudspeakers. Pubgoers can play snooker, darts or karam, an Indian board game similar to billiards. Islamic-themed quiz nights have also been organised. Owners Azizur Rahman and business partner Muzahid Khan spotted the potential in the former Westwood Inn which was lying empty on the edge of the town centre. “Muslims are a major consumer group and they need somewhere to relax and socialise just like anybody else,” Mr Khan reportedly said. “But the presence of alcohol means traditional pubs are off-putting to those who want to follow strict Islamic rulings, so this is the perfect place for them to come.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=C8BBE62FA420077C68DAE898&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News