Another week has brought another attempt to have arbitration by Sharia or Beth Din tribunals made illegal on the grounds that these discriminate against women – and that religion should not have any place in law. It will fall flat on its face, just like last week’s attempt. This is directly attributable to its main proponent, former Tory MP Louise Mensch, not knowing what the hell she is talking about.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
Ms Mensch used her column in the Murdoch Sun last weekend to claim that there had been “a huge online backlash from women and moderate Muslims” after her previous demonstration of mardy strop throwing at the Law Society for issuing guidelines on drawing up wills that follow Sharia custom. And one view of this piece makes dispiriting reading for lovers of half-decent English prose.
An Oxford graduate in English Language and Literature regales Sun readers with soundbites such as “Not bloody good enough” and “the square root of sod all”, thus setting an abysmal example to others. This continued on Twitter: “The Tory war on women via Sharia and Beth Din continues. Advisers didn’t even know they covered domestic violence cases when I called” she asserts.
This is a blatant attempt to suggest that Sharia arbitration is somehow replacing the criminal law, which it is not. And it isn’t a one-off: “The Tories will not end the scandal of domestic violence victims pressured into Sharia [and] Beth Din courts. Labour set them up. Lib Dems silent” she ranted, with no evidence at all of even one case of anyone “pressured” into anything – so the usual Mensch schtick.
Note also the flagrantly dishonest assertion that Labour “set up” any of these bodies: they set up none, and many Beth Din tribunals can be traced back into the 19th Century, or to put it directly, before the Labour Party existed. Then comes a real Walter Mitty moment: “Across party lines, the people are of one mind on Sharia and Beth Din courts. ALL three parties are of another mind”.
Did she set all the facts before the public and commission a poll? No she didn’t. But, as the man said, there’s more: “People asking me to make distinctions between Sharia binding tribunals and Beth Din binding tribunals. I won’t. All religious bias wrong” she exclaimed, demonstrating a total ignorance of what arbitration is all about. Then someone tried to hint that she might not be totally right.
Did she stop and think? You jest: “Sod off while we fight the legalised sexism of Sharia and Beth Din tribunals”. Louise Mensch thinks she knows her stuff and will prevail. But one Twitter exchange with my good friend John Band (HERE) showed that she has not got a clue. And, as the tribunals she so detests are legal in England and Wales, her ranting will get her precisely nowhere.
But there will be more of the same, so get the popcorn in and enjoy the show.