Amidst the faux outrage generated by the Law Society issuing guidance to its members on drawing up wills that follow Sharia custom, there has been an awful lot of hot air expended by those ready to exploit the situation to tell some very tall tales and generally promote Themselves Personally Now. In the meantime, the fact of the matter is not allowed to enter. That is not good enough.
First among the accusations and assertions being thrown around is the claim that Sharia courts appeared in 2008 with the blessing of Pa Broon and the last Labour Government. This can be traced to papers like the Maily Telegraph, which pitched the fraudulent claim that the courts had been “quietly sanctioned” by Labour. There was also a typically foam-flecked intervention from the Express.
That's a straight Pants On Fire
Worse, the then shadow security minister, Pauline Neville-Jones, suggested that Sharia courts would be banned by a future Tory administration. She and her colleagues were merely grandstanding in order to garner a few more votes. This was the basis for yesterday’s continuing stampy tantrum from former Tory MP Louise Mensch, for whom reality is a mere inconvenience.
Labour "legalised" nothing, so wrong again
I make no apology for highlighting the frankly batshit interventions from Ms Mensch, as it should be remembered that she managed to get herself selected by the Tory Party, and elected an MP. She secured membership of a very important Select Committee during her brief stay in the Commons. And almost all of what she said about the Law Society’s advice, and Sharia courts, was a pack of lies.
Dishonest pundit cites dishonest article no shock horror
The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal was established in the UK in 2007 (not the following year). It came into being not through any intervention by the then Government, but used a clause in the 1996 Arbitration Act, passed by the preceding Tory administration. They can rule on civil disputes: English law provides for a third party to do so. There is no case of “two laws” being simultaneously in force.
And that brings us to the Beth Din. Ms Mensch’s assertion that such courts were set up in 2008 is utterly risible. The Manchester Beth Din, for example, can trace its history back to 1892. That’s eight years before the Labour Party was formed. Labour did not “establish” or “legalise” any Beth Din or Sharia court. This tsunami of falsehood and misinformation has exasperated even seasoned commentators.
As Jack of Kent has pointed out, to stop wills following Sharia custom, legislation would have to be passed. And Sam Leith, writing in the Evening Standard, has said what should have been obvious: disinheriting relatives is not confined to one religion, and nor is it illegal. Meanwhile, the less responsible part of the Fourth Estate continues to mine its seam of Muslim bashing.
That’s because it sells more papers than rational debate. No change there, then.