The Council of Europe has taken aim at the UK in a resolution which draws attention to the country's Sharia law councils; it claims that they contradict universal human rights.
The resolution, which was adopted by the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), noted that in Britain "Sharia councils attempt to provide a form of alternative dispute resolution, whereby members of the Muslim community, sometimes voluntarily, often under considerable social pressure, accept their religious jurisdiction mainly in marital and Islamic divorce issues, but also in matters relating to inheritance and Islamic commercial contracts".
Separately, the document stressed that all those Muslim couples who are getting married in the UK should be legally required to civilly register their union before or during the Islamic ceremony.
The resolution also expressed PACE's concern about the fact that the rulings of the Sharia councils in Britain "clearly discriminate against women in divorce and inheritance cases".
In this regard, The Independent cited an unnamed Home Office spokesperson as saying that "Sharia law does not form any part of the law in England and Wales".
"Regardless of religious belief, we are all equal before the law. Where Sharia councils exist, they must abide by the law. Laws are in place to protect the rights of women and prevent discrimination, and we will work with the appropriate authorities to ensure these laws are being enforced fully and effectively," the spokesperson stressed.Sharia law concluded in February 2018 that a legal requirement for all Muslim couples to have a civil marriage in addition to an Islamic ceremony would bring Islamic weddings in line with religious Christian and Jewish weddings.
According to the report, banning Sharia councils was not "viable" because of their important role, which is why such councils should be regulated instead, amid the government's unwillingness to heed recommendations on formalising Sharia councils in Muslim communities.
Right now, there are reportedly up to 85 Sharia councils operating in England and Wales, with Cabinet ministers warning against establishing a secondary legal system in Britain.