Tory peers warn of threat of sharia law

Daphne ParkBaroness Park of Monmouth told the House of Lords: “My concern is with the effects on civil society and community relations arising from the existence of two parallel legal systems: Sharia law with its own courts, and our own civil law, the law of the land. We are, however, tacitly accepting the formal Muslim view that Sharia itself must be regarded as the ultimate criterion of justice when measured against the law of the land….

“This situation exists because we have for some years been more concerned to respect other cultures than actively to protect the interests of citizens of this country…. my objective today is to remind us that there are aspects of Sharia law which do active harm in terms of the national interest, in particular, in the increasingly combustible area of civil society.

“When we condone the practice of allowing girls to be withdrawn from school from 12 years old onwards so that they may be sent to Pakistan to marry and thus facilitate the entry of a young husband who may be illiterate and innumerate, we are not only allowing her to be unlawfully deprived of education, when she is required by law to be educated up to the age of 16, but the country is losing a potentially skilled and valuable citizen. This is being done with the connivance of the schools on the grounds – as I was told when I visited a school in Bradford – that the council believes we must respect the culture of the Muslim community….

“Respect for the right of the Muslim communities to conduct their lives according to Sharia law should be matched by equal respect for our own Christian religion…. We should note the lack of support shown by many local authorities, and indeed by Government sometimes, to Christians of every denomination.”

Her fellow Tory, Baroness Verma, concurred: “I would be very wary of the slow creep of Sharia law into our legal system…. The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, is absolutely right to point that out. We have a twin-track system developing in this country.”

Lords Hansard, 19 June 2008

See also Daily Mail, 20 June 2008