Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




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Monday, 11 January 2016

CROWN COURT JUDGE TO SIT ON SHARIAH COURTS

Jewish religious courts [Beth Din] presided over by learned rabbis have been in operation in this country as in others for as long as Jewish people  have lived there.  They operate without fuss or hindrance in a civil capacity where two opposing parties are in agreement as to its jurisdiction.  Beth Din outcomes  are not  legally binding in England in order that they do not supersede English law but achieve a conclusion by a process rooted in Jewish culture.  They satisfy the small minority of the 250,000 Jewish population which considers itself ultra orthodox; about 16%.  Considering that such communities have large families there can`t be more than about 10,000-15,000 adults who are a source for Beth Din arbitration. With a Muslim population of three million with arguably a much higher proportion being considered conservative than within Christian, Jewish or Hindu denominations Shariah courts have provoked considerable debate as to their status and function in the U.K.  Therefore the recently reported approval of a crown court judge to sit as a judge in Shariah courts is  worth some consideration. The legal system in this country has been developed from Judeo Christian principles over a millennium but its procedures {forgetting legal aid restrictions and recent court charges} emphasise  equality and justice to all from beggar to king and has been a beacon to nations near and far.  When, however, a crown court judge however eminent  is presiding over a religious court the separation of religion and state is blurred.  The Spanish Inquisition and the abuse of Christianity under English monarchs in the 16th and 17th centuries as a reason for judicial execution are thankfully well behind us.  Many British Muslims appear to hold opinions at variance with the majority population with regard to the application of what could be described as medieval attitudes to law breakers whose only crimes are related to their sexuality in one form or another. Is it appropriate that the division between Shariah and English law has conceivably  been blurred by the approval from on high of this  appointment?

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