3 Muslim Women Elected in UK Polls

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

LONDON: Two Pakistani-British women were among the three women who became the first Muslim females to be elected to the British parliament following their success in the Thursday’s UK national polls.

Yasmin Qureshi, a 47-year-old practising barrister, held on to the Labour seat from Bolton south east constituency (north west England), by taking 18,782 votes against her Conservative party rival Andy Morgan, who polled 15,827 votes.

Qureshi was contesting the election in place of Dr Brian Iddon who has retired from politics.

The other successful woman was Oxford-educated Barrister Shabana Mahmood, a Labour candidate who won with 19,950 votes.

She defeated her nearest Liberal-Democrat rival Ayoub Khan who bagged 9,845 votes.

Another Muslim candidate Nusrat Ghani who fought the election on Conservative Party ticket secured 4,277 votes. Mahmood defended the seat that was previously held by former International Development Secretary Clare Short who stepped down from Birmingham Ladywood constituency.

The third successful Muslim woman to have secured her passage to the Westminster was Rushanara Ali of the Bangladeshi-descent, who won East London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow with 21,784 votes and in the process wrested the seat from Respect Unity Coalition whose candidate Abjol Miah got 8,532 votes.

In second place was Ajmal Mansoor of Liberal-Democrat with 10,210 votes.

However, the other Labour aspirant Maryam Khan, a 27-year-old solicitor contesting from Bury North, went down fighting to her Conservative Party rival David Nuttal who polled 18,070 votes against Khan’s 15,827.

Khan was chosen to defend the seat previously held by David Chaytor, who was barred by the Labour Party from standing again and is being prosecuted over his expenses as a former MP. Labour also suffered defeat in Dewsbury, north west England, where sitting MP Shahid Malik, a junior minister, lost to his Conservative rival Simon Reevell by a narrow margin of 1,526 votes.

Reevell polled 18,898 votes against 17,372 votes by Malik.

However, according to analysts, Malik’s chances were dented by another Pakistan-origin candidate Khizer Iqbal who stood as independent and returned with crucial 3,813 votes in a seven-corner contest. In Luton South constituency, Pakistan-origin councillor Qurban Hussein of Liberal-Democrat failed to unseat his Labour rival Gavin Shuker who secured 14,725 votes. Hussein, in fact, finished third with 9,567 votes behind the second placed Nigel Huddleston of the Tory party. app.

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Non-Muslim’s Use of Islamic Law to Resolve Disputes Scares Some, in Britain

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Guardian, UK

Muslim Arbitration Tribunal reports 15% rise in non-Muslims employing Shari’ah law in commercial cases

Islam.Shariah Campaigners have voiced concerns over a growing number of non-Muslims using Islamic law to resolve legal disputes in Britain despite controversy over the role of Shari’ah law.

A spokesman for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) said that there had been a 15% rise in the number of non-Muslims using Shari’ah arbitrations in commercial cases this year. Last year, more than 20 non-Muslims chose to arbitrate cases at the network of tribunals, which operate in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Nuneaton and Luton. “We are offering a cheap and effective service for Muslim and non-Muslims,” said MAT spokesperson Fareed Chedie.

“95% of the people who come to us for arbitration do not feel they need legal representation.” Chedie said that tribunals deal mainly with civil and commercial cases, including mosque disputes referred by the Charity Commission. But the tribunals have also continued to hear cases in the field of family law and divorce, Chedie said.

“We are increasingly dealing with reconciliation and mediation in marriage,” said Chedie. “Many of these are cases where women have petitioned because they have a difficult marriage and want some guidance and direction. If they then want to terminate the marriage then we can help with that.”

The increase in marriage and divorce cases comes as one law firm has begun offering advice on civil Scots law and Shari’ah law, making it the first in Britain to offer both civil and Islamic law as part of one service.

Glasgow law firm Hamilton Burns says that it is responding to a greater demand from Muslim clients who want advice on Shari’ah law alongside civil advice under Scots law. It has teamed up with Shaykh Amer Jamil, a Muslim scholar who specialises in Islamic family law.

“We hope that by incorporating Shari’ah family jurisprudence against a background of domestic Scottish legislation, we can provide our clients with as much relevant information as possible,” said Niall Mickel, a solicitor advocate and managing partner at Hamilton Burns. But some groups have criticised the move by the Scottish firm, arguing that the recognition of Shari’ah law decisions in Britain is regressive and harmful to women.

“We have a petition signed by more than 22,000 people saying that all religious tribunals should be prevented from operating within or outside the legal system,” said Maryam Namazie, a spokeswoman for the One Law for All Campaign, which campaigns against Shari’ah law in Britain. “I have spoken to women who are losing custody of their children in the Shari’ah councils – under Shari’ah law custody of a child goes to the husband after a certain age, irrespective of the welfare of the child.

There are cases of domestic violence where women have dropped criminal charges and the Shari’ah councils have sent the husbands on anger-management courses. That is just not how we deal with domestic violence in this country,” Namazie said. Many Muslim lawyers have challenged criticism of Shari’ah law in Britain as “islamophobic”, arguing that there is a distinction between Shari’ah councils – which largely operate outside the law – and arbitration tribunals, which are subject to the Arbitration Act passed by parliament.

“The media get this out of context and hyped up,” said Dr Saba Al-Makhtar, from the Arab Lawyers Association. “Under English law there is room to settle disputes on any ground that it is acceptable to the parties involved, provided it doesn’t conflict with English law .… it is an extremely good idea.

Critics deny that the campaign against Shari’ah law is targeted specifically against Muslims, however. “Our campaign is focusing on Shari’ah but we are against all religious tribunals including the Jewish beth din,” said Namazie.

“Human rights are non-negotiable and religious tribunals puts religion before people’s rights and their freedoms. Law based on any religion – whether the Bible, Torah or the Quran – is completely antithetical to rights woman have in this day and age. Many of the rights women have now result in the UK is the result of a hard fight to wrestle control out of church hands.”

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