Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain with Sharia courts already hearing more than 100 cases.
Labour last night faced a backlash over claims the Government had quietly sanctioned powers for Sharia judges.
The rulings of a network of five Sharia courts are enforceable with the full authority of the judicial system as they are now classed as tribunal hearings under British law.
Their powers extend to civil cases, including divorce and financial disputes, along with those involving domestic violence.
Last night MPs and pressure groups said the courts would divide the British legal system.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: “These tribunals have no place in passing binding decisions in divorce or criminal justice hearings. Far from handling more criminal cases they should be handling none at all.”
Douglas Murray, 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.”
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “I don’t think Sharia law has a place in British society at all.
“Everybody should follow the same law and one legal system and that should be the British legal system. I think it is unacceptable for these courts to be operating. They should be closed down.
“If people want to be governed by these sort of laws they should live in a country where there are those laws, but we don’t want that system here. Having a different set of legal rules for different people only serves to segregate society rather than integrate.”
Until now the rulings of Sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.
But new powers have been given to tribunals 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 Faisal 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.
Islamic scholars and lawyers use only Sharia law, derived from several sources including the Koran, to decide disputes.
But unlike unofficial Sharia courts, which have operated on an ad-hoc basis from UK mosques for some time, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has binding legal status.
“The aim of the Islamic movement is to bring about somewhere in the world a new society wholeheartedly committed to the teachings of Islam in their totality and striving to abide by those teachings in its government, political, economic and social organizations, its relation with other states, its educational system and moral values and all other aspects of its way of life.
Our organized and gradual effort which shall culminate in the realization of that society is the process of Islamization. ”
– Source: The Process of Islamization, Published by the Islamic Society of North America, Plainfield, Indiana, 1976., Fourth Printing – January 1983