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Greece: Court rules against the forced application of Sharia law

February 2019

Andrea Williams (Christian Concern)
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The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Greece in a case involving the forced application of Islamic Sharia law in an inheritance dispute.

The case centred on a Muslim Greek man’s will in which he bequeathed all he owned to his wife. But it was deemed invalid after it was challenged by his sisters.

However, the man’s widow appealed to the European court in 2014, having lost three quarters of her inheritance.

She argued she had been discriminated against on religious grounds as, had her husband not been Muslim, she would have inherited his entire estate under Greek law.

The European court agreed. In its ruling the court said, ‘Greece was the only country in Europe which, up until the material time, had applied Sharia law to a section of its citizens against their wishes’.

‘That was particularly problematic in the present case because the application of Sharia law had led to a situation that was detrimental to the individual rights of a widow who had inherited her husband’s estate in accordance with the rules of civil law but who had then found herself in a legal situation which neither she nor her husband had intended’.

The court’s decision was welcomed in the UK by Christian Concern, which intervened in the case. Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern said: ‘We are relieved by this ruling.

‘People should not be forced to have their disputes settled by Sharia law. As our intervention made clear and as the court notes, Sharia law is not compatible with human rights’.