According to the campaign organiser, Maryam Namazie, “Even in civil matters, sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children. Moreover, its voluntary nature is a sham: many women will be pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions.
“These courts are a quick and cheap route to injustice and do nothing to promote minority rights and social cohesion. Public interest, particularly with regard to women and children, requires an end to Sharia and all other faith-based courts and tribunals.”
“The campaign has already received widespread support,” she says, “including from A C Grayling, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bahram Soroush, Baroness Caroline Cox, Caspar Melville, Deeyah, Fariborz Pooya, Gina Khan, Houzan Mahmoud, Homa Arjomand, Ibn Warraq, Joan Smith, Johann Hari, Keith Porteous Wood, Mina Ahadi, Naser Khader, Nick Cohen, Richard Dawkins, Shakeb Isaar, Sonja Eggerickx, Stephen Law, Tarek Fatah; Tauriq Moosa, Taslima Nasrin and others.
“It has also received the support of organisations such as Children First Now; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; European Humanist Federation; International Committee against Stoning; International Humanist and Ethical Union; Iranian Secular Society; Lawyers Secular Society; the National Secular Society; and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.”
The campaign calls on the UK government to recognise that sharia law is arbitrary and discriminatory and for an end to sharia courts and all religious tribunals on the basis that they work against equality and human rights, not for them.
The campaign also calls for the Arbitration Act 1996 to be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.
In the words of the campaign’s declaration:
Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no sharia.
Roy Brown, immediate past president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, said, “IHEU is lending its full support to this campaign. It is intolerable that the very values on which UK society is based – human rights, equality and the rule of law – are being undermined by the quiet and insidious application of systems of law that have no basis in equality or justice.”
You can get more information from Namazie by email or call 07719 166731 (mobile). The website will be available on the day of the launch.