Protect women: Stop Texas sharia courts

Protect women: Stop Texas sharia courts

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Separate but equal was wrong for schools, and it's wrong for the legal system. Sharia and Islamic councils must not substitute for American law.

Coming to a court near you? / Photo: Asian Media, used under Flickr Creative Commons license
Coming to a court near you? / Photo: Asian Media, used under Flickr Creative Commons license

DALLAS, February 10, 2015 — The Texas Muslim community is again demanding special treatment. This time, a group of North Texas Muslims has seriously upped the ante. They have begun the process of developing what could become an entirely separate Islamic legal system in America.

A local CBS News affiliate reports that a first-of-its-kind Islamic Tribunal is operating in the Dallas area.

The Islamic tribunal is a legal administrative body governed by sharia (Arabic for “legislation,” the moral and religious code of a religion). The tribunal in Dallas is almost an exact mirror of its counterparts in the United Kingdom, which have been operating since at least 2008. If America ignores the development of parallel Muslim societies within our own nation, as has happened in Britain, these government sanctioned tribunals will lead to the unjust oppression of women, and the gradual acceptance and application of sharia law into many more aspects of American life.

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The website for the Islamic Tribunal states, “The courts of the United States of America are costly and consist of ineffective lawyers.  Discontent with the legal system leads many Muslims in America to postpone justice in this world and opt for an audience on the Day of Judgment.”

It goes on to state, “It is with this issue that Muslims here in America are obligated to find a way to solve conflicts and disputes according to the principles of Islamic Law and its legal heritage of fairness and justice in a manner that is reasonable and cost effective.”

In Britain these courts began with one council in the town of Leyton. The government first turned and a blind eye to it, then legally and explicitly sanctioned the existence of sharia councils. They spread like wildfire; today, hundreds are estimated to be operating in Britain.

The very first page of the Dallas Islamic Tribunal’s website makes very clear that it wants to set an example for other Muslim communities in America on how to avoid the American legal system and further isolate Muslim communities from integrating into larger society. “It is the intention of erecting this institution in order to set a precedence (sic) that will be emulated and duplicated throughout the country.”

This Islamic Tribunal works just like its predecessors in the United Kingdom. First, the parties to litigation must execute a document in writing that states that they have all voluntarily agreed to participate in the proceeding and are willing to substitute a ruling based upon sharia for a traditional legal proceeding. Next, the matter is heard, and the judges/lawyers (on the Tribunal’s website the same four men are considered judges on one page and lawyers on another) decide the matter. If neither party appeals the ruling by filing a request that an American court review the matter, both parties agree to be bound by the ruling.

Exactly as the British sharia courts did at their outset, the Dallas area tribunal states that it only handles matters involving family law, divorce, product liability, real estate and business disputes. As sharia has gradually become more acceptable in Britain, the sharia courts in the U.K. have begun to handle a greater variety of civil cases, as well as some criminal cases involving spousal abuse, spousal rape, and other areas where British criminal law and sharia conflict.

Breitbart Texas spoke with one of the judges of the Islamic Tribunal in Dallas, Dr. Taher El-badawi. In a refreshingly candid response, El-Badawi told Breitbart that when there is a conflict between American law and sharia, they “follow sharia.”

The Dallas sharia tribunal requires both parties to voluntarily agree to the substitution of sharia for the law of the land. Due to the unconscionable oppression of women in Muslim societies, however, it is unlikely that a woman who does not want to be judged under sharia would ever say so out of concern of possible retaliation from her family or community.

Unlike American women, who enjoy all of the same rights as American men, women living in most Muslim countries have lived their entire lives as second class citizens. Under sharia, women are denied basic civil rights, including the right to vote, the right to work, and the right to even the most basic level of education. Women lucky enough to escape these oppressive, totalitarian theocracies often come to America and Britain. Sharia tribunals in America could start the process of forcing those women back into oppression and a second-class existence.

Under sharia, the testimony of a woman only holds half the legal authority of the testimony of a man. Thus any disputed point in a case involving a male party and a female party — like divorce — is decided in favor of the man. Child custody rulings are almost always in favor of the father, regardless of the circumstances.

For example, in the case of divorce sharia treats men and women completely differently. According to Soeren Kern of the Gatestone Institute think tank, “With an Islamic marriage, a man can initiate the divorce from his wife by pronouncing the so-called triple-talaq [‘I divorce you. I divorce you. I divorce you.’]. By contrast, the only way for women to divorce their husbands is through the use of Sharia councils. Women are required to produce two male witnesses, and, while a man pays nothing, an Islamic divorce costs a woman at least £400 ($600).”

Kern continues, “Moreover, under Sharia law, a woman must pay compensation to her husband by handing over all of her dowry and other wedding gifts before a divorce can be granted. This can effectively constrain women from seeking a divorce because, with the loss of the dowry, they have no financial means of support.”

The majority of Muslims in America and Britain forego civil marriages and seek only an Islamic ceremony. Due to their polygamist nature (Muslim men can take up to four wives at a time), these marriages are not recognized under American or British law.

Dr. El-badawi told Breitbart, “while participation in the tribunal is voluntary, a married couple cannot be considered divorced by the Islamic community unless it is granted by the tribunal.” Thus a Muslim woman would be unable to remarry in the Islamic community until her marriage was dissolved by the sharia tribunal.

Inheritance issues are just as oppressive and demeaning to women. Sharia requires that, in inheritance disputes, regardless of what the decedent’s will says, Muslim women receive half of what the Muslim male heirs receive. If an heir is no longer a practicing Muslim, as decided by the judges/attorneys of the tribunal, that individual will not be eligible for any inheritance.

Sharia councils in Britain have begun to show their true colors, and have begun to state flatly that the goal of the institution is the implementation of sharia in the home country.

On its website, the Leyton Sharia Council — the olderst Islamic council in Britain, and one of the most active in the country — writes, “Though the Council is not yet legally recognized by the authorities in the UK, the fact that it is already established, and is gradually gaining ground among the Muslim community, and the satisfaction attained by those who seek its ruling, are all preparatory steps towards the final goal of gaining the confidence of the host community in the soundness of the Islamic legal system and the help and insight they could gain from it. The experience gained by the scholars taking part in its procedures make them more prepared for the eventuality of recognition for Islamic law.”

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If there is one concept that truly defines the idea of America, it is that no man or group of men is above the law. That idea has made America the greatest nation the world has ever seen. It has bound this nation of people from all different backgrounds and origins together as citizens on equal footing for over two centuries.

If Muslims are allowed to choose to be governed by a different law, why should other Americans be forced to abide by laws they reject? That is the idea that Muslims hope to substitute for the American idea; it will allow them to subvert and replace the American legal system with brutal, oppressive, sharia law.

Obama and the feckless Republicans in Washington won’t do anything to stop this, but thankfully, our states individually can take action. It is time to demand that our state representatives draft and pass laws banning the substitution of sharia for American law, and the substitution of Islamic tribunals for American courts. We must ban the use of sharia in lieu of the American legal system under all circumstances.

America must stand up for the rights of the oppressed and the powerless among us, and that certainly includes Muslim women.


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