14th October 2015
In response to the question posed by Lord Bishop of Albans, and the answer that followed by Lord Bates, about the undertaking of the Home Secretary to set up an independent investigation into the application of Sharia law in Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain issued the following statement:
‘We should not discount the positive role played by the religious institutions and processes of all faiths, be that Sharia arbitration panels, or the Jewish Beth Din process. They are a voluntary method of alternative dispute resolution that can and should operate well within the boundaries set by UK law. Those who use these institutions do so out of free will. Where there are concerns of discrimination and illegality, these should be dealt with under the full force of the law. If required, Sharia councils or panels should be given support to build capacity, thereby allowing them to offer a service to resolve disputes referred to them by parties in a manner that accords with other similar institutions. Whilst we have no issue with the government investigating Sharia councils, we do wonder why Muslim institutions are being singled out for scrutiny only. There needs to be firm evidence to justify the focus on one particular faith group for investigation. Thus far, there has been much heat but little light shed on Sharia councils, much of it generated through rumours or one-off incidents promoted by ideologically-driven and misinformed journalists or politicians. In today’s society, we do not believe that broad-brushed accusations targeting a specific community without the relevant evidence, bodes well in our common goal of a more cohesive society’.