European Court to decide if Islamic Sharia Law can override Civil Law
Can Islamic religious sharia law override a European country's domestic law? The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is weighing that question as we write. Rulings handed down by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights cannot be appealed.
Published: December 10, 2017, 1:34 pm
The Court is expected to issue its decision in the next few months.
The Court heard a case this past week where sharia law was applied to a disagreement between citizens of Greece who are Muslims.
Christian Concern (CC), a non-profit organisation based in London, intervened in the case, “because of the importance of the case in European law and its implications for countries across Europe, including the UK,” according to a press statement by CC.
“We intervened in the case in order to make clear that sharia law is fundamentally incompatible with human rights,” Tim Dieppe, head of public policy of Christian Concern, declared on its website. “We hope and pray that the judges will see this and act accordingly.”
Christian Concern say sharia law is “discriminatory” and its intervention in this case reveals the pitfalls facing the judiciary with sharia law applied in the UK.
According to Dieppe, an estimated 85 sharia courts operate in the UK. “The use of Sharia has led to the promotion of parallel societies within the United Kingdom,” he told CBN News. “Sharia itself has disproportionately affected women and gives no legal rights to non-Muslims.”
“The United Kingdom has also become the European hub for Islamic finance,” he added. “Any Grand Chamber ruling promoting the use of Sharia would only further give weight to the growing segregation of the Muslim community in England and its disassociation with democratic and British values.”
The particular case in Greece, Molla Sali v. Greece, involved a dispute over an inheritance. After her husband died, Sali inherited his entire estate under his will written according to Greek law.
But two sisters of the husband maintain that sharia law should govern how the inheritance is divided because the man was a member of the Muslim community in Thrace. Also, a mufti must oversee that process, they say. A mufti is regarded as a Muslim legal expert in religious law.
“They relied in particular on the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which provided for Islamic customs and Islamic religious law to be applied to Greek nationals who were Muslims,” the European Court of Human Rights stated in a news release.
“A ruling that sharia law should have precedence over the state’s civil law would set an alarming precedent for the Council of Europe’s 47 Member States, including the United Kingdom,” Dieppe responded. “By contrast, a ruling that civil law should overrule sharia law would have legal benefit throughout the Council of Europe.”
“We are hoping that the Court continues its line of precedent that Sharia is incompatible with a democratic society,” he told CBN News. “However, if the Court were to rule that Sharia law should have been applied in Miss Molla Sali’s case, it would in essence be ruling that Sharia can enjoy legal supremacy over a nation’s domestic legislation even where the consent of all of the parties to its use in a matter is not present.”
Meanwhile, the Greek prime minister announced a bill that would make applying sharia law in Thrace optional. The measure says civil law overrides sharia law, unless everyone involved agrees to abide by sharia law.
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