At least 10 Islamic Sharia courts, sitting across Britain since the last 25 years, have decided cases relating to family disputes, divorces and a solitary criminal matter too. The revelation following Archbishop Rowan Williams’ statement that Sharia law was inevitable in parts of the country, and which triggered demands for his resignation, has alarmed the Government and jurists.
The Sharia courts have been operating not only in cities like Birmingham where there is a large Muslim population but even in London. The first Sharia court in the UK started way back in Birmingham in 1982, and others have followed in London, Rotherham and Dewsbury, West Yorks. Dr Williams’ friends have now said that his remarks that the introduction of some elements of Islamic law was “unavoidable” were not out of sync.
It has emerged that the majority of cases heard in the courts involve divorce or financial disputes. But one reported case involved a gang of Somali youths who were allowed to go free after paying compensation to a teenager in Woolwich, southeast London, in 2006.