A judge has been given permission to sit on a sharia court while also officiating as a Crown Court judge, in a legal first.
The Judicial Office has allowed Shamim Qureshi, a district judge at Bristol Crown Court, to act as ‘presiding judge’ at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT).
The MAT was established by Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi in 2007 and, unlike most sharia tribunals and councils, some of its rulings can be enforced by the courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act.
However, The Daily Telegraph reports that the MAT has issued rulings that are discriminatory towards women.
Last week, the newspaper cited cases of domestic violence where women were encouraged to withdraw their complaints to the police.
Their husbands were only reprimanded by being told to take anger management courses.
I would be careful if I was a judge not to mix the two jobs. I don’t think an Islamic legal system is compatible with British law.Khalid Mahmood MP
Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, Khalid Mahmood, warned that British law and sharia law should not be confused.
He said: “I would be careful if I was a judge not to mix the two jobs. I don’t think an Islamic legal system is compatible with British law.”
Judge Qureshi caused controversy last year when he fined Christian street preacher Mike Overd £200 and threatened to jail him unless he paid compensation for quoting an Old Testament passage on homosexuality. The ruling was overturned after an appeal last month.
The Government confirmed in October that it will launch an investigation into the use of Sharia law in England and Wales.