The move to implement sharia in the UK, both within the Muslim community and within the British legal system, must be seen as part of Islam’s inherent compulsion to dominate every society within which it finds itself. Part of the Islamic legal tradition is that it treats individuals not as persons in their own rights but only as members of a religious community. The community has inherent rights but far less so the individual. While some expressions of this drive might seem harmless, and may be justified in providing for Muslims who wish to live voluntarily by sharia, there are real dangers in the use of strong communal pressure on individual Muslims to accept sharia litigation (not least for Muslim women who are disadvantaged under sharia). Integrating sharia precepts into British law would gradually impose elements of Islamic religious law on non-Muslims in the UK. Both trends contradict the human rights and freedoms of individuals which are enshrined in modern western states. British law is based on territorial jurisdiction – all citizens within the state territory have equal rights before the law. Muslims pushing for sharia integration into British law are actually asking for a new system that treats citizens in different ways according to their religious community.
So writes Patrick Sookhdeo in his book, Faith Power and Territory: A Handbook of British Islam, and this passage is quoted verbatim by Melanie Phillips in a piece in the Spectator today, in which she examines the news that there are now five sharia courts operating in the UK. Nothing new, she says, as the Sunday Times seemed to make out, merely something that, as we pointed out on Sunday, has been permitted under the Arbitration Act of 1996 for years.
Phillips's piece is headed No longer one law for all, and she ends with this sentiment:
. . . if this continues Britain will break up as a unitary state governed by one law for all. Sharia law should be stopped, not condoned or encouraged. No other minority in Britain either wants or is permitted to live under an alternative legal system. This is the way a society fractures – and then goes under.