PARLIAMENT is to be asked to protect Muslim women from the impact of Sharia law, it was revealed this week.
Speaking at a symposium on Sharia Law and the dangers it presented to British freedoms this week, Baroness Cox said she would ask Parliament to back her Bill that ran out of time in the last Parliament.
The symposium, hosted by the Christian Broadcasting Council, also heard from Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and the Vicar of Baghdad, Andrew White, via video link.
Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “It would be a great mistake to recognize Sharia Law in this country.”
When asked if he could imagine a time when whippings and amputations were allowed as punishments in the UK as they are in countries with the Islamic legal system, the Bishop could not say.
“If you had said to me in the 1970s that these punishments would be used as a matter of course in Pakistan I would not have believed it,” he added.
Baroness Cox gave a presentation on the effects the 80 Sharia Courts in the UK are already having, with the gender inequality they present.
She said: “Under Sharia Law some women say their treatment is worse than in the countries from where they came.”
The Baroness claimed these courts ask women to present four Muslim male witnesses to testify in a rape or domestic violence case, and the husband’s permission to divorce – even when he has gone on to marry again.
The value of evidence from a women counts as half that of the information provided to the court by a man.
The CBC Symposium was organized in light of Baroness Cox’s Private Member’s Bill, which will be reintroduced in the new Parliament, with the support of many peers and MPs.
The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill would require authorities to provide protection for domestic violence victims and a five-year prison sentence for individuals sitting in a Sharia Court acting in a quasi-judicial role.
The symposium heard of Christians around the world facing harsh punishments under this legal system, but was also reminded of the many women in refuges in the UK from fear of the communities, which run these courts.
Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “We must look outwards but we must also look at our own situation in this country.”