Friday, 31 December 2010

Sharia Law Secretly Accepted In The UK

Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.
The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.
Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.
It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.
Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.
Siddiqi said: “We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.”
The disclosure that Muslim courts have legal powers in Britain comes seven months after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was pilloried for suggesting that the establishment of sharia in the future “seems unavoidable” in Britain.
In July, the head of the judiciary, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, further stoked controversy when he said that sharia could be used to settle marital and financial disputes.
In fact, Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.
It has also emerged that tribunal courts have settled six cases of domestic violence between married couples, working in tandem with the police investigations.
Siddiqi said he expected the courts to handle a greater number of “smaller” criminal cases in coming years as more Muslim clients approach them. “All we are doing is regulating community affairs in these cases,” said Siddiqi, chairman of the governing council of the tribunal.
Jewish Beth Din courts operate under the same provision in the Arbitration Act and resolve civil cases, ranging from divorce to business disputes. They have existed in Britain for more than 100 years, and previously operated under a precursor to the act.
Politicians and church leaders expressed concerns that this could mark the beginnings of a “parallel legal system” based on sharia for some British Muslims.
Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: “If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so.”
Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “I think it’s appalling. I don’t think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state.”
There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men.
Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.
The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.
In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.
In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.
Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.
Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The MCB supports these tribunals. If the Jewish courts are allowed to flourish, so must the sharia ones.”

Monday, 27 December 2010

Polygamy In The UK...A Start

Polygamy UK: This special Mail investigation reveals how thousands of men are milking the benefits system to support several wives

He cut a smart figure in his grey suit and crisply ironed shirt. The 6ft tall Somalian bowed to the judge, calling him 'Sir', before begging for his wife, Fatima, and their teenage son to be allowed to stay in Britain. 
Fatima, with a black khimar veil covering her hair and shoulders, sat quietly next to her husband. 
In her late 30s and wearing open sandals, she lowered her dark eyes as the details of the unconventional life she and her husband, Abdi, led in the West London suburb of Shepherd's Bush unfolded at a busy immigration court. 
Multiple marriages in Britain were first declared illegal in 1604
Multiple marriages in Britain were first declared illegal in 1604
The judge listened in silence. Perhaps he knew from past experience what was coming next. Abdi went on to reveal that Fatima was not his only wife. 
Indeed, he was a self-confessed bigamist who had a second, much younger wife and a 13-year-old daughter by her. They both lived nearby. 
'I visit them regularly,' said Abdi, 51, who arrived in Britain in the 1990s and works in an old people's home. 'I have done nothing wrong. In Somalia, it is normal to have two wives  -  even three or four. Fatima is still my wife and she should not be deported.' 
He was unable to produce wedding certificates or valid official documents to prove where, or when, he had married both women, therefore raising questions over the validity of the unions, under either Somali or British law. 
Yet his story, unravelling at an ordinary weekday hearing at Taylor House, an asylum appeals' centre in North London, is just one example of the growing phenomenon of multiple marriage in Britain. 
Officially, such unions are punishable by up to seven years in prison. They were first declared illegal in England and Wales in 1604, when the Parliament of James I took action to restrain 'evil persons' marrying more than one wife. Parliament ruled that anyone found guilty of the crime would be sentenced to death. 
In the four centuries since, bigamy (having two wives) and polygamy (more than two) has been frowned on by the state, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. 
Yet it is clear that officialdom is turning a blind eye to such marriages. 
A recent review by four Government departments  -  the Treasury, the Work and Pensions Department, the Inland Revenue and the Home Office  -  has concluded that 1,000 men in the United Kingdom are now polygamists, although some say the figure is higher. 
Baroness Warsi has warned that politicians have failed to tackle the problem of polygamy because of 'cultural sensitivity'
Baroness Warsi has warned that politicians have failed to tackle the problem of polygamy because of 'cultural sensitivity'
What is more, the review found, a Muslim man can claim state support of more than £10,000 a year to keep his wives, if the wedding took place in one of those countries where polygamy is commonplace, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and across huge tracts of Africa. 
For example, a man can receive &£92.80 a week in income support for wife number one, and a further £33.65p for each of his subsequent spouses. 
Therefore, if he has four wives  -  the maximum permitted under Islamic teachings  -  he can claim nearly £800 a month from the British taxpayer. 
Controversially, a polygamist is also entitled to more generous housing benefits and bigger council houses to reflect the large size of his family. He is also able to claim £1,000 a year in child benefit for each of his growing brood. 
The Government insists that polygamy has declined in Britain since the 1988 Immigration Act, which made it harder for men to bring second, third or fourth wives to the UK. 
However, it's little wonder that critics claim our generosity simply encourages more Muslim men to keep several spouses. Supporters of polygamy claim the Koran states unequivocally that a Muslim man can marry up to four women so long as he treats them equally. 
But the Taxpayers' Alliance, a lobby group, has complained: 'Polygamy is not officially condoned here, so why should British taxpayers have to pay for extra benefits for men to have two, three or four wives?' 
Last week, Baroness Warsi, a Tory spokesperson for community cohesion who is British-born of Pakistani parents, waded into the argument, warning that politicians have failed to tackle the problem of polygamy because of 'cultural sensitivity'. 
The respected Muslim peer told the BBC: 'We've just avoided either discussing or dealing with the matter head on.' 
Baroness Warsi, a Muslim herself, urged the Government to bring in laws demanding the official registration of 'Nikah' or religious Islamic marriage ceremonies, which often take place secretly in private houses with 'an imam and a couple of witnesses there'  -  and which are used to get round our marriage laws. 
So how do the polygamists get away with it here? Firstly, it needs to be understood that the generous benefits system allows any man and the partner he lives with to claim benefits together  -  even if the woman is not officially registered as his wife. 
If they do marry, to avoid breaking Britain's bigamy laws, such men often engage in a ceremony with their second or third wife in a Nikah secretly in their own homes and never register the union officially in this country. 
Another technique is for the man to divorce his first wife under British law while continuing to live with her as his spouse under Islamic law. He then gets a visa for a new wife to enter the country and can legally marry her here. 
Moreover, our politically correct immigration rules state that if a husband has divorced his first wife under British law  -  and even if that divorce is actually suspected to be part of a plan to set up a polygamous household  -  a second wife from abroad must be allowed to come and live here. 
During this investigation, I spoke to health workers and benefits officers who have seen at first-hand the scale of polygamy in Britain. 
An NHS district nurse working in Tower Hamlets, East London, explained that it was now commonplace. He said he knew of a Bangladeshi-born male patient with two wives and 13 children aged between three months and 15 years. 
'The women have council flats, each paid for by the local authority. The elderly husband collects benefits for both women, who are in their 30s. The wives speak very little English, but they are in and out of each other's flats and are friends. 
'On more than one occasion when I have been called to the flats to give treatment to the old man, I have heard them talking in the kitchen and even taking each other's children to the park.' 
The male nurse said this family set-up was not unusual. 'I know of others that comprise of one husband, a number of wives and numerous children. 
'It is not difficult to conclude that if there were no state benefits, a man could not afford to live like this, especially here in London. 
'The system is at fault. The men want more wives for their sexual pleasure, but also because it is lucrative.' 
Yet there is another issue to be raised. Are the Government figures of around 1,000 foreign men living polygamously a gross underestimate? 
Recently, a senior imam in Finchley, North London, said there are at least 4,000 men involved in such marriages. 
Meanwhile, to show just how far some men have stretched the teaching of the Koran, another senior Islamist, Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, has revealed a case of a man living here with five wives. 
But what, indeed, of the wives living in polygamous marriages themselves? 
In an age of supposed sexual equality, how can they accept what many will feel is the degradation that goes hand in hand with polygamy? 
Not surprisingly, few dare to speak out publicly for fear that they will be ostracised by their families. 
But one 34-year-old mother who lives in the Bangladeshi community of East London rang the Mail because she said she wants to reveal the truth of what is happening. 
Sitting in her kitchen in Newham, she reeled off a list of male relatives and friends who have two or three wives. 
What is more, the woman  -  who does not want to be named for fear of attacks on her and her family  -  said that polygamy is tacitly encouraged by our benefits system, where few questions are asked or checks made. 
The woman, whom we will call Kaela, arrived in Britain with her mother and younger brother when she was 11. 
They were following her father, who had come to Britain from a poor province called Sylhet, seeking work in the food factories of West London. 
Kaela learned English, went to a local comprehensive and, at 19, fell in love with a Bangladeshi-born boy who had also arrived in this country as a youngster. 
They married, set up home in a small council flat and soon had two children. Kaela worked hard for her family. With a clutch of GCSEs, she became an adviser to the Bangladeshi community on issues such as welfare, housing and education. She now works as a parttime civil servant. 
Yet, two years ago, her husband suddenly disappeared back to Bangladesh and, in an Islamic Nikah ceremony, married a 19-year-old second wife who has since given birth to his son. 
'My husband has a British passport and plans to come back into this country with his two-year-old boy and his new wife. 
'He has not given me a penny. He knows that the State will provide for us. He has told me to tell the authorities I have been deserted and claim income support, housing benefit and council tax.' 
But what of his second wife? Kaela suspects the shy teenager without any English will be brought into Britain on a tourist visa, pretending to be her own son's nanny. 
'I have seen it happen before,' Kaela explains. 'I know of one man living in East London who has two wives here, each with a flat, and a third wife in Bangladesh. Between the wives, there are five children under 13, all living in this country. 
'The first two women look after the third wife's child. So who pays to keep this enormous family? The State, of course. 
'I have an uncle who lives near Heathrow who has two wives. They are all together in a big five-bedroom house, with off-street parking. It is a council flat and the rent is paid from housing benefits because he does not work. 
'The first wife, who is 60, claims pension credit and carer's allowance to look after his old mother, whom he has brought here as a dependent from Bangladesh. 
'His much younger second wife claims income support for herself and child benefits for their three children of school age. We are talking about hundreds of pounds a week to keep this family going.' 
Kaela says there are myriad tricks used to bring second wives into Britain. Apart from the 'nanny ruse', new female partners enter the country using tourist visas, student visas or work permits. They simply overstay the visas, which are normally for six months, and stay in Britain, often hiding away in their husband's home. 
But women suffer as a result of polygamy, says Kaela. 'The first wives get depressed because they are so ashamed of their husband taking a second or third wife. 
'Many wives have been here for years, but have never been allowed to learn English or even go out of the house alone. They have no one to turn to for help.' 
No one knows such anguish better than Sameera, a well-spoken, middle-aged woman living in one of our multi-cultural cities, whose 55-year-old husband found a second wife after 30 years of marriage. 
He went on holiday to his homeland of Pakistan where, without Sameera's knowledge or consent, he married a 26-year-old cousin. 
'I fainted when I heard,' says Sameera. 'The fact that he's married a girl young enough to be his daughter has upset me so much. 
'I cried. I felt like my mind was exploding. The ground had just fallen from me. Why did he do it? It shouldn't happen.' 
Astonishingly, though, Sameera has been forced to welcome the new wife into her house. 
The alternative, she says, would be the breakdown of her relationship with her husband and, possibly, the loss of her home. In other words, she might be thrown on to the streets. 
Yet despite such emotional cruelty, there are those who say polygamy should be legal in multicultural Britain. A leading Muslim academic at Cambridge University has claimed that men are biologically designed to desire more than one woman and that, therefore, polygamy should be legalised. 
Meanwhile, a primary school teacher in Birmingham recently spoke publicly about his contented life with two wives and six children, all living in the same house. 
Even a prominent female member of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain  -  set up in 1992 to debate Islamic issues  -  has claimed that she knows of many very happy polygamous marriages in Britain. 
'I am aware that this practice is taking place, and there are couples who are quite satisfied with their relationship, and they would like it to carry on and be protected by law,' she proclaimed. 
Back at the immigration appeals centre at Taylor House, which heard the case of Somali-born polygamist Abdi, a Home Office lawyer took me aside and whispered: 'This man's not the only husband doing this. 
'Last week, there was one man who was born in Pakistan and arrived to settle here only four years ago. He brought in one wife legally. They arrived as asylum seekers. The next wife came in on a student's visa. The third pretended to be visiting relatives in Southwark, South London. She had a sixmonth tourist visa but overstayed and was about to be deported. 
'She ended up here, begging to remain in Britain with her husband.' 
As for Abdi, I spoke to his son after the case adjourned as he waited for a bus with his mother, Fatima, while his father went back to work. The polite, intelligent-teenager is studying at college and hopes to become an engineer. 
He came to Britain with his mother (who speaks only a few words of English) as asylum seekers from Somalia several years after Abdi had made the journey alone seeking a job, money and a better future. 
'I knew my father had a second wife,' the teenager said with a friendly smile. 'That is not unusual in Somalia. I want to stay in Britain, and so does my mother. Our lives should not be shattered because of this.' 
But British taxpayers footing the bill may beg to disagree.

Read more:

Sunday, 26 December 2010

When polygamy becomes a crime

When polygamy becomes a crime
Lola Shoneyin; The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, Serpent’s Tail (Profile Books Ltd), London 2010, pp 245. By KATE HALIM
Thursday, December 23, 2010


The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives revolves around a family of twelve and their everyday squabbles. It is an intriguing story of a typical African Patriarch who believes in his duty to bring as many children as he desires to the world so long as he takes care of them.

After his marriage to three women, he boasts of seven children, which are proofs of his virility. In Baba Segi’s world, women are responsible for infertility in marriages and because he is convinced that he has not failed in his manly duties, he goes ahead to marry a fourth wife.

Trouble however starts when his fourth wife, Bolanle, a graduate, cannot procreate after two years of their union. The constant bickering among his wives does not help matters as the first three wives conspire against Bolanle whom they see as a threat. The first three wives (Iya Segi, Iya Tope and Iya Femi) feel Bolanle is superior because of her educational status, hence their positions seriously threatened.

They always fight for their breadwinner’s attention through their various tricks and antics. Meanwhile, tragedy sets in when Segi, the first born of the once happy and close-knit family dies mysteriously. Baba Segi, who is a successful man gets jittery although he believes in family values. The situation gets worsened when his fourth wife fails to give him a child.

Apparently disturbed by Bolanle’s barrenness, Baba Segi seeks advice from his friend, Teacher who asks him to tread carefully with Bolanle since she is not as illiterate as his first three wives. He further advises him to take her to the hospital for tests as she has refused to visit any herbalist’s cocoon.

This sounds good to Bolanle who has suffered constant verbal abuses from her once very loving husband because of her inability to give him a child. Bolanle’s cold attitude towards life is also attributed to her troubled childhood. Her father had been irresponsible, turning his wife to the breadwinner of the family. Her mother on her own side had treated her and her sibling with disdain, and less affection.

After visiting the hospital, Baba Segi discovers that Bolanle rudely terminated a pregnancy when she was sixteen. This revelation further infuriates her husband who couldn’t hide his disgust for her ugly past. The other wives continue to plot how to send Bolanle packing and their husband falls for their antics.

With the support of Iya Femi, Iya Segi plants a charm in Baba Segi’s bedroom, claiming it is Bolanle’s ploy to kill their husband. Meanwhile, Iya Tope who knows the true story identifies with Bolanle, but draws the ire of the other two wives who were determined to rid their home of the woman they see as a gold digger.

The funny side of the wives’ hostility to Bolanle is that she usually disrupts sex rotation in the home. Moreover, Bolanle’s story of rape robs her of all dignity she has as a young girl. Her boyfriend then had opted for an abortion, hence marrying Baba Segi offered her an escape route from her shame and debasement. Iya Femi’s story too is equally pathetic. She also had a troubled childhood as her uncle sold her out to Baba Segi when her parents died in an auto crash.

After years of servitude in a household where she was abused sexually, the only escape route was her husband’s house. Quick to grant her husband’s innermost desire for more children, her ex-boyfriend, Tunde impregnated her before Iya Segi could show her the way to make babies in their household. Her character as a troubled woman is further re-enforced when she avenges her uncle and his wife who earlier robbed her of her inheritance.
Baba Segi’s world comes crashing following Segi death from a poisoned food meant for Bolanle during Kole’s (Iya Femi’s second son) birthday.

All the rifts, drama and envy end up when Baba Segi discovers eventually that he is not the father any of his seven children. After Iya Segi’s confession, Baba Segi loses faith in himself, and advises his first son, Akin against polygamy.

Bolanle too blames herself for the misfortune that befalls the household. In her view, if she had not come into that family, there would not have been rancour, Segi wouldn’t have died for sins she did not commit and her husband would not have discovered that he didn’t father any of his children. She concludes that her entrance into the family signals tension, and increases Baba Segi’s animosity towards his first three wives.

Lola Shoneyin displays her mastery of story telling in the novel. The well articulated, suspense- filled, and grand resolution of this creative piece makes it a timeless classic. Weaving the voices of Baba Segi, his four competing wives and their children into a portrait of clamorous household of twelve, Lola captures a realistic, polygamous Nigerian family.

The novel x-rays the inherent evils in a polygamous family, the dangers it poses for the children as they are raised in an unhealthy, rancorous environment. With an episodic plot, the novel is error- free. What catches the reader’s fancy is descriptive analysis the novelist employs to give each character a human face


I am a Journalist in the UK, I recently noticed the case in Canada on the Polygamy Issue and want to do a series of articles on this..I am in need of some help in understanding the culture, as I have not been exposed myself to this alternative life style.  I have spent the last 2 weeks checking for other blogs etc on the subject and the majority of what I have seen is USA based viewpoint as well as the Stop Polygamy blog in Canada

 Here in the UK we have many Muslims and others that practice the law of Sharia, and I intend to go undercover in the more egregious groups here, as well as delve into the Middle East Groups, the USA groups etc.

The purpose of this blog is hopefully to shed a worldwide viewpoint on this practice as it pertains to Sharia law, the USA Polygamy groups as well as the historical landmark Canada Case continuing.  I am just waking up to the magnitude of this lifestyle around the world, and would like to start shining a spotlight on the global impact and repercussions

If you would like to help me here, then I would be grateful for your contributions, and viewpoints.