I am writing to raise serious concerns over the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on 1 November 2016 at which I gave oral testimony and to provide further and new evidence on the matter at hand, particularly with regards the transnational Islamist links with Sharia courts as well as the discriminatory content and intent of the courts, which violate the UK's gender equality obligations and commitments to freedom of religion and expression. Please treat this letter as a submission to the inquiry.
Key findings are:
1) Accusations of "anti-faith", “Islamophobia” and racism constitute an attempt to delegitimise the evidence of secular witnesses to the inquiry.
2) Sharia councils violate human rights. Based on their own statements, Sharia councils consider themselves to be courts, giving rulings on Islamic law which they consider binding on all Muslims.
3) Sharia judges have made statements supporting the criminalising of blasphemy and apostasy and justifying the killing of apostates. The label of "apostate" carries grave risk of shunning, violence and death.
4) Challenging any aspect of Sharia court decisions may lead to threats and charges of blasphemy and apostasy in Britain and abroad.
5) Sharia court jurisprudence and practice violate every article of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In particular, they violate Article 16 on marriage and family relations. The concept of "zina" which criminalises sex outside marriage is key to understanding the operation of Sharia courts.
6) Secular values underpin human rights treaties on ending gender discrimination. They cannot be set aside in favour of religious discrimination.
7) CEDAW recommendations declare that the state must end parallel and customary legal systems as they violate women’s right to equality.
8) The law and not religion must be the key basis for securing justice for citizens and BME women.