The use of Sharia law should be outlawed where it restricts freedom, conflicts with English law and discriminates against women and non-Muslims, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has said.
The bishop was the main speaker in the House of Lords in support of a bill intended to limit the remit of Sharia law in the UK.
The debate was sparked when Baroness Cox introduced the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill on 7 June. She said, ‘I am deeply concerned about the treatment of Muslim women by Sharia courts.
‘Equality under the law is a core value of British justice. My bill seeks to stop parallel legal, or “quasi-legal”, systems taking root in our nation. Cases of criminal law and family law are matters reserved for our English courts alone.
‘Discrimination against women shall not be allowed. We must do all that we can to make sure they are free from any coercion, intimidation or unfairness’.
Bishop Michael said, ‘People in this country are free to practise whatever faith they have. At the same time we have a long tradition of people being equal under the law.
‘The problem with Sharia is that it is inherently unequal for certain kinds of people. Muslims and non-Muslims are treated unequally. Similarly, men and women are treated unequally.
‘If Sharia is recognised in any way in terms of the public law in this country, that introduces a principle of contradiction in the body of the law that will cause problems for the country and for people who will suffer, particularly women’.