British government rejects calls to legitimise up to 85 Sharia courts

Home Secretary Amber Rudd (Rex)
Home Secretary Amber Rudd (Rex)

Calls to legitimise Sharia law courts in the UK has been ruled out by the government.

Following a review by academics and lawyers, minsters were urged to establish a body which would allow self-regulation by Islamic religious councils.

But the Home Office has ruled that out, citing British laws and traditions.

‘Sharia law has no jurisdiction in the UK and we would not facilitate or endorse regulation, which could present councils as an alternative to UK laws,’ read a Home Office statement.

‘In Britain we have a long tradition of freedom of worship and religious tolerance, where many people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices and benefit from their guidance.

‘The Government has no intention of changing this position.’

The independent panel, chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, was set up in 2016 top look into the application of Sharia law in England and Wales.

The panel was established by the Prime Minister Theresa May (Rex)
The panel was established by the Prime Minister Theresa May (Rex)


It was established by now prime minister Theresa May when she was the Home Secretary.

Although it recognised Sharia councils existed, the government said there was no point in banning them as they would end up going underground.

The Sharia courts in the country tend to deal almost exclusively with divorce.

There are thought to be up to 85 such courts or councils in England or Wales practicing Sharia law, an Islamic legal system.

‘Whilst sharia is a source of guidance for many Muslims, sharia councils have no legal jurisdiction in England and Wales,’ said the panel’s report.

The panel had called for Sharia marriages to be recommended under UK law, but this finding was not accepted by the government.

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