British subject wants to change some British laws


by Rumbold
20th January, 2008 at 6:48 pm    

Shockingly, the Daily Telegraph has revealed that not everybody in the country likes every single one of the laws, and some even want some fairly drastic changes to aspects of some of them. Who has enraged the Daily Telegraph so with their criticism of some of Britain’s laws? Could it be Simon Heffer, who wants to bring back the death penalty? Or those multitude of right-wing columnists who are always calling for the law and the state to be fairer towards drivers? No, it seems that the above are perfectly free to criticise laws that they do not like, without being accused of undermining the very fabric of British civilisation. Nor are said columnists considered to be representative of their people (port-drinking right-wingers). No, the Telegraph’s ire was reserved for those who apparently have no right to suggest changes to British law:

“Dr Hasan, who has been presiding over sharia courts in Britain for more than 25 years, argues that British law would benefit from integrating aspects of Islamic personal law into the civil system, so that divorces could be rubber-stamped in the same way, for example, that Jewish couples who go to the Beth Din court have their divorce recognised in secular courts.

He points out that the Islamic Sharia Council, of which he is the general secretary, is flooded with work. It hears about 50 divorce cases every month, and responds to as many as 10 requests every day by email and phone for a fatwa – a religious verdict on a religious matter. Dr Hasan, who is also a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain on issues of sharia law, says there is great misunderstanding of the issue in the West.”

So a Muslim who specialises in sharia law thinks that aspects of it would be good for Britain. One may disagree, but such a view is hardly offensive. After all, if one is a Muslim, then there will probably be aspects of sharia law that one agrees with. Nor, the last time I checked, was it considered fundamentally un-British to want to change some laws. Isn’t that why we elect MPs?

Dr. Hasan does have views that I find very distasteful, as well as naive. But he is not even calling for those punishments in the UK, merely aspects of sharia ‘personal’ law (as opposed to penal law):

“Dr Hasan is open in supporting the severe punishments meted out in countries where sharia law governs the country. “Even though cutting off the hands and feet, or flogging the drunkard and fornicator, seem to be very abhorrent, once they are implemented, they become a deterrent for the whole society. “This is why in Saudi Arabia, for example, where these measures are implemented, the crime rate is very, very, low,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

In a documentary to be screened on Channel 4 next month, entitled Divorce: Sharia Style, Dr Hasan goes further, advocating a sharia system for Britain. “If sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace because once a thief’s hand is cut off nobody is going to steal,” he says. “Once, just only once, if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all. “We want to offer it to the British society. If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don’t accept it they’ll need more and more prisons.”"

Even the Telegraph’s headline is obnoxious: UK Muslims ‘want Sharia law’. Once again, the Telegraph has resurrected a tired fallacy that all Muslims want the same things and behave exactly in the same way. I do not want to see any aspects of sharia law introduced in this country, but I do think that those Muslims who do want it have a right to lobby lawmakers, as we all do. As for the worry about ‘parallel’ sharia courts, as long as these courts do not break the law, then they are not parallel at all. Plenty of people sort out issues without resorting to the law. We need to snap out of the mentality that Muslims represent this dark, homogenous mass, just waiting to create Dar al-Islam (Abode of Islam) and reduce the rest of use to second-class citizens.


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  1. Politics » British subject wants to change some British laws : Pickled Politics

    [...] Blogger News Network wrote an interesting post today on British subject wants to change some British laws : Pickled PoliticsHere’s a quick excerptShockingly, the Daily Telegraph has revealed that not everybody in the country likes every single one of the laws, and some even want some fairly [...]


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  1. Boyo — on 21st January, 2008 at 2:11 pm  

    Well put. Personally I would like to see private health and education made illegal as part of my pesudo-socialist utopia, but no one seems interested in writing news stories about that.

  2. Kismet Hardy — on 21st January, 2008 at 2:38 pm  

    Is it true terrorism is being rebranded as anti-Islamist activity?

  3. Jai — on 21st January, 2008 at 2:47 pm  

    More accurately, I believe it’s being rebranded as “anti-Islamic activity”, Kismet.

    At least according to an article in one of the major national newspapers I read before the weekend; looks like this term is going to be used and promoted by the government in order to decouple any links to Islam and simultaneously to emphasise that these activities are not actually condoned by the religion.

  4. Don — on 21st January, 2008 at 3:44 pm  

    If the ISC hope to persuade the population at large that sharia is no biggie, they picked the wrong man for the job.

  5. Katy — on 21st January, 2008 at 4:07 pm  

    Rumbold, has the Telegraph article been toned down since you posted this? Because the headline is different and I have to say that I didn’t see anything in the article that implied that Muslims aren’t entitled to lobby for a change in the law. I wouldn’t say it was particularly positive about sharia law as a concept, but that’s not quite the same thing.

  6. Sid — on 21st January, 2008 at 4:26 pm  

    Yes indeed. Muslims certainly have positive things to offer a socially fractured society, such as family values, a break from crass capitalism, saying no to binge drinking, the value of prayer even. But Sharia implementation is not one of them.

  7. Cover Drive — on 21st January, 2008 at 4:36 pm  

    In the same article Baroness Cox, a leading human rights campaigner, says:

    “The introduction of sharia law in Britain raises complex questions, as some of its basic tenets are incompatible with the fundamental principles of our liberal democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

    “There is no equality before the law between men and women and between Muslims and non-Muslims; and there is no freedom to choose and change religion.”

    I agree with her. I didn’t find the article particularly biased or irresponsible. Dr Hasan and Dr Bari are members of the MCB, an organisation that is supposed to represent Muslims in this country, so they do speak on behalf of other Muslims.

    They can lobby as much as they want but ultimately parliament sets the laws, and long may that continue.

  8. Refresh — on 21st January, 2008 at 4:36 pm  

    There is way, a simple way to put this hand-chopping to bed once and for all – and believe me it will solve all our ills:

    Let those that advocate these things start at the top. Let the rich be the first in line, after all they have no need to steal (or have they?). That would of course include white collar crimes.

  9. Dhanush — on 21st January, 2008 at 4:58 pm  

    such as family values,

    The State sponsored religion Christianity already offers that.

    a break from crass capitalism,

    Islam may be anti-capitalist, but the economic system it proposes in its place is a, for want of a kinder word, joke.

    saying no to binge drinking

    Again, Christianity can help you there.

    the value of prayer even.

    And what would that be?

  10. Sid — on 21st January, 2008 at 5:04 pm  

    Christianity does offer all of these things and more Dhanush, as do all religions and religious observance as such, but you seem to have misunderstood my point which is about Islam’s role in British society and not some silly jousting game of one religion vs another, which you seem to want to play. This is the thrust of the post, since we are speaking of right to lobby for the implementation of Sharia vs the observance of Islam specifically and not the spiritual succour of a religion.

  11. sonia — on 21st January, 2008 at 6:12 pm  

    Rumbold whilst i understand the wider point you are trying to make: let me tell you this: what is generally accepted as Sharia law on divorce is problematic for women – you might really want to look into that specifically – given the specific example used for this story. Divorce rights and mechanisms are not equal for men and women under Islam – unfortunately – there are major discrepancies to be addressed. This is a topic many Muslim women are thinking about, and unfortunately, this is an area there is much confusion about – exactly what rights we women have.

    When it comes to divorce law, there are definitely reasons to be worried – I would hate to think such concerns – and the effort of Muslim women to have these inequalities recognised – to be pushed aside, in – or buried in the ‘yes we hate them’ or “no we don’t” type of block thinking. whatever is suggested needs to be looked at on its own merit/problems.

    I would – and I am sure many women would – run screaming for the hills if we thought our husbands uttering ‘talak’ 3 times verbally would automatically equate to a legal divorce in this country, which is =- my dear rumbold – what the law is under Islam.

  12. Desi Italiana — on 21st January, 2008 at 6:14 pm  

    “Could it be Simon Heffer, who wants to bring back the death penalty?”

    It’s interesting that the death penalty is looked at with abhorrence (and rightfully so) by folks in Europe, but here in the US, it’s like, “Death penalty? What’s so wrong about that?”

  13. Sid — on 21st January, 2008 at 6:20 pm  

    That’s why US presidentail types and the Saudi Royal family, since they started rubbing shoulders and cheque books some 50 years ago, have got along so well.

  14. Jai — on 21st January, 2008 at 6:33 pm  

    Following on from the comments by a couple of other people here, I think that, democratically-speaking, advocates of Shariah have the full right to lobby for the adoption or implementation of whatever aspects of traditional Shariah law they desire.

    This doesn’t mean their proposed solutions are necessarily “right” or that there is a chance in hell of them actually being successful in their aims (at least w.r.t the cutting off hands/stoning adulterors brigade), but in a democratic society they do have the right to attempt this nevertheless, even though their attempts are doomed to fail.

    Dr Hasan and Dr Bari are members of the MCB, an organisation that is supposed to represent Muslims in this country, so they do speak on behalf of other Muslims.

    To echo Don, Dr Hasan isn’t exactly a great ambassador for the mass of Muslims who just want a quiet life like everyone else and have no interest in people’s hands being removed or individuals being stoned, or would even consider suggesting such actions. He’s doing them absolutely no favours by shooting his mouth off, and is adding fuel to the continuing misrepresentation of the British Muslim population a whole.

    I call this “Asian Uncle Syndrome”*, which involves desi males above a certain age who get far too carried away with unwise, inappropriate rhetoric, have a little too much affection for heavy-handed, authoritarian solutions, attitudes and behaviour, and let notions of status and authority excessively go to their heads. Especially if they’re from backgrounds/environments where the false idea of age automatically begetting wisdom is embedded (and respect being automatically conferred upon “elders”, regardless of the content of their characters or the stupidity & ignorance of their beliefs), resulting in them being allowed to get away with far too much nonsense, especially if younger folk are too polite and/or deferential (or too bullied into submission) to tell them exactly how much bukwaas they’re actually coming out with. This phenomenon is not confined to any particular Asian regional/religious community, and happens right across the board.

    Not to be confused with “Asian Mother-in-Law Syndrome”

  15. sonia — on 21st January, 2008 at 6:34 pm  

    Yes you’re absolutely right Sid…

    Dr. Hasan’s comments want to make me laugh. I’d say there is great misunderstanding about divorce full stop in the Muslim world – the no. of women who think they have the same access to divorce as their husbands – who have been unpleasantly shocked by the reality.

    Far more sensible is the approach to divorce where both parties have to go to court. I would strongly urge everyone to read the link i posted in my comment above – yes Sid – you have a daughter! one day she will need to know what to put into her pre-nup. ( rumbold sorry but you asked for this by mentioning Islam and divorce.)

  16. Sid — on 21st January, 2008 at 6:41 pm  

    Sonia, I’m hoping she marries a nice jewish lawyer.

  17. Katy — on 21st January, 2008 at 7:06 pm  

    Divorce rights and mechanisms are not equal for men and women under Islam – unfortunately – there are major discrepancies to be addressed.

    It is the same with Jewish law, where a husband can withhold a get from a wife and effectively prevent her from remarrying unless she becomes an apostate. In civil divorce proceedings between observant Jews, English family courts often make the divorce conditional upon the grant of a get to the wife.

    I think. Bananabrain will put me right if I’m wrong.

  18. Cover Drive — on 21st January, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

    Dr Hasan, like other members of the MCB, have fundamentalist leanings. Whether or not they speak for the majority is irrelevant to them. They will always try harder to get what they want. Therefore they have to be resisted in equal measure.

  19. sonia — on 21st January, 2008 at 7:30 pm  

    That’s interesting Katy..!

    the thing with Islamic divorce law..it seems to me one of the areas where too many people prefer to keep the waters muddied. What rights women have or don’t have -as compared to the man – its better to know it from the beginning. we women are told Islam gives us the righ to divorce, and not many people actually look into what that actually translates into in reality.

  20. Galloise Blonde — on 21st January, 2008 at 8:44 pm  

    Good link sonia. Here’s another that’s also well worth noting. Child custody can be a very dodgy point as well.

  21. Refresh — on 22nd January, 2008 at 12:01 am  

    “I would – and I am sure many women would – run screaming for the hills if we thought our husbands uttering ‘talak’ 3 times verbally would automatically equate to a legal divorce in this country, which is =- my dear rumbold – what the law is under Islam.”

    Saying talak 3 times is not intended to be 3 times in ‘quick succession’ – this is over several mediation attempts. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken.

  22. Refresh — on 22nd January, 2008 at 12:36 am  

    By the way Sonia, I followed that link you gave and was heartened by the discussion there. It wasn’t at all clear that it represented what you were saying upthread.

  23. thabet — on 22nd January, 2008 at 7:08 am  

    The Telegraph did the same thing last year — misreported a Radio 4 programme (‘Law in Action’) on so-called sharia courts.

  24. Rumbold — on 23rd January, 2008 at 10:21 am  

    Sorry for the late replies everyone- the internet is not always the best in Agra.

    Katy:

    “Rumbold, has the Telegraph article been toned down since you posted this? Because the headline is different and I have to say that I didn’t see anything in the article that implied that Muslims aren’t entitled to lobby for a change in the law.”

    Katy, it was not clear what the headline actually was. What I quoted was the link to the headline, but then the ‘headline’ just appears to be a quote. As the Telegraph’s piece was not an editorial, they didn’t specifically say that Muslims should not be allowed to lobby for Sharia law, but the fact that they gave it such prominance and resorted to generalisations indicates they did have a problem with it. As I tried to suggest with my title, this was simply a case where am individual was lobbying for changes to the law.

    Sonia:

    “Rumbold whilst i understand the wider point you are trying to make: let me tell you this: what is generally accepted as Sharia law on divorce is problematic for women – you might really want to look into that specifically – given the specific example used for this story.”

    I agree that there are major issues with aspects of sharia law, which was why I do not want it implemented in this country.

    Jai:

    Perfect.

  25. Jai — on 23rd January, 2008 at 10:59 am  

    I hope you’re enjoying your trip to India so far, Rumbold. You should consider doing a write-up of your experiences when you come back here, especially your thoughts on the various historical sites you’re visiting.

  26. Jai — on 23rd January, 2008 at 11:06 am  

    write-up of your experiences

    Experiences during your stay in India, I mean. Not your experience of the inevitable culture shock when you come back to the UK and step off the plane at Heathrow, bleary-eyed, to some extent feeling like you’ve just come back from a warzone and are now a worldly-wise grizzled veteran, whilst also experiencing that comforting feeling of recognition when you notice all the Asian staff working in the airport ;)

  27. Rumbold — on 24th January, 2008 at 10:13 am  

    Jai:

    I have a list of words so far:

    Noisy
    Crowded
    Death-defying driving

    Comprehensive enough?

  28. Jai — on 24th January, 2008 at 11:20 am  

    Don’t worry Rumbold, I wouldn’t be surprised if you look back at all that with wry nostalgia at some point in the future.

    I’m sure it’s all turning to be quite an adventure for you anyway :)

  29. Rumbold — on 25th January, 2008 at 11:12 am  

    Jai, I was actually going to write about the things I have enjoyed so far in a comment below 29, but then the internet would not load, and we have been plagued by power cuts these past two days. The sights/sites are nice, and I am getting more used to people offering me anything. Heh.

  30. Ravi Naik — on 25th January, 2008 at 11:27 am  

    “Yes indeed. Muslims certainly have positive things to offer a socially fractured society, such as family values, a break from crass capitalism, saying no to binge drinking, the value of prayer even.”

    I don’t agree with this, Sid. Family values, “capitalist” values, drinking are indeed cultural, but are regardless of religion in my view. I mean, they are hardly spiritual to begin with – only prayer can be attributed to religion.

    My point is that I don’t believe Muslims have an edge on family or “money” values, and thus, they have little to offer on that department.

  31. Ravi Naik — on 25th January, 2008 at 11:29 am  

    (I don’t believe Christians or any other religious group have anything to offer to our secular society, either)

  32. Jai — on 25th January, 2008 at 11:55 am  

    Rumbold buddy, just keep us all in suspense and write a nice article summarising your trip when you come back here.

    Keep us regularly posted about where you happen to be, though. It would be good to be in the loop about which you stage of your itinerary you’re at, and of course it reassures us that you haven’t disappeared into the Ganges or been kidnapped & sold into some dodgy Nawab’s harem…..

    Do you know what would be really cool ? If you somehow managed to get a role as an extra in a Bollywood film, like Clive James did back in the 90s (and, more recently, like….er….Baby Spice did).

    Lots of white western travellers seem to get roped into “item number” Indian music videos these days. Of course, it helps if you’re a hot female model type, but I guess you could always get a part as the token dude in the background showing off his screw-the-lightbulb-pat-the-dog moves.

  33. Rumbold — on 25th January, 2008 at 11:59 am  

    I want to play evil imperialist number 4, knocking the natives out of the way with a stick as I race to catch in afternoon cricket match.

  34. Jai — on 25th January, 2008 at 12:05 pm  

    That depends on how well you can twirl your moustache and sneer at the same time.

    Also remember that the movie will also inevitably end with you getting beaten up and finally whacked by the dashing hero, although not before a couple of songs, of course.

    I’m assuming you’ve seen “1942″, “Lagaan”, and “Mangal Pandey/The Rising”. Not to mention various rousing patriotic movies from the early 80s along similar themes. More moustache-twirling Brit villains in those days of course, along with more Bachchan.

  35. Jai — on 25th January, 2008 at 12:07 pm  

    Actually the recent movie “Namastey London” was surprisingly good. Quite a few English secondary characters, both positive and negative.

  36. Rumbold — on 25th January, 2008 at 12:09 pm  

    I could not bring myself to watch ‘Mangal Pandey’, and I have not seen ’1942′. ‘Lagaan was great though.

    Perhaps I could be one of the minor imperialists, but not the main one. Then I could be sent flying twenty feet across the room due to one punch from the hero, and wind up impalied on the Union Jack.

  37. Jai — on 25th January, 2008 at 12:22 pm  

    You don’t like Mangal Pandey ? It’s a great movie, apart from Naseeruddin Shah/Om Puri’s somewhat historically inaccurate voiceover at the very end. Nice music too. And not all the Brits are villains, especially Toby Smith who plays Mangal’s best friend and later went on to be a suitably sneering baddie in Die Another Day. I think he’s recently appeared in some BBC constume dramas too.

    1942 is more of an old-school Bollywood flick but it is very good. It’s quite famous for being one of the more high-quality and “old fashioned” (in a positive sense) Indian films at a time when the industry had taken a considerable nosedive in terms of the standard of movies that were being released. The songs are very famous too, again more reminiscent of the 40s & 50s. No item numbers or silly lyrics there. The movie’s beautifully photographed too.

    And more than enough moustache-twirling imperialists in that movie, believe me ! My memory’s slightly fuzzy but I think the main one does indeed end up impaled on the Union Jack.

  38. Rumbold — on 25th January, 2008 at 12:26 pm  

    I have not seen Mangel Pandey, but I would probably watch it if it were on. Shaadi No.1, now there is a good film.

  39. Jai — on 25th January, 2008 at 12:32 pm  

    *rolls eyes* I see that you like tha all-out masala movie type eh…..I bet you thought Hum Saath Saath Hain was a masterpiece.

    (just kidding).

    I still recommend Namastey London, though; it deals with some familiar themes but in a surprisingly unpredictable and non-stereotypical way. Smarter than expected in both the dialogue and the story. And most of the film is set in the UK.

    Out of the recent bunch, Jab We Met is apparently excellent too, especially for Kareena Kapoor’s humorous performance.

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