Keighley MP Kris Hopkins has been accused of misrepresenting BCM’s request for better resourced Shari’a panel
Elham Asaad Buaras
Bradford Council of Mosques (BCM) has accused a Tory MP of misrepresenting their request for better resourced Shari’a panel.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins described “Sharia courts” as “courts of convenience” which threaten the integrity of the nation’s justice system.
The MP was speaking after the BCM revealed they were in talks to start up a local Shari’a panel that would offer advice and deal with legal issues within the Muslim community.
It led to Hopkins writing to Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to block any such move.
But the BCM has accused the Tory MP of misleadingly misquoting its comments, and says it has no intention of replacing the national court system.
BCM has called for Shari’a councils to be better resourced and recognised at Government level. Council President, Mohammed Mushtaq, says it is consulting with Muslim scholars to create a “robust and transparent framework” to make any Shari’a council as effective as possible.
In his letter Hopkins said: “There can only be one set of laws in this country, and we must not countenance the concept of different ethnic groups setting up their own court rooms of convenience.
“As the Cabinet Minister with responsibility for our judicial system, I trust you will use your offices to protect its integrity by rejecting any approaches to recognise or give any credence to Sharia courts which have neither jurisdiction nor legitimacy in this country.”
Retaliating Mushtaq accused Hopkins of resorting to “popular sound bites” that either ignorantly or deliberately “misquotes” their proposals.
Mushtaq added: “Mr Hopkins intervention is misguided and unhelpful. He has attempted to mislead people by misquoting our statement.
“We do not talk about ‘Shariah Courts’. ‘Courts’ have very specific role in the British legal system. No one is talking about establishing a parallel competing court structure.
“Council for Mosques’ statement talks about Shariah councils which as advisory bodies give information and guidance to individuals on religious matters.”
The Department for Justice said Shari’a courts did not supersede regular courts, and there were no plans for this to happen anywhere in the country.