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London Sharia council caught treating divorce like North Carolina Republicans

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, April 7, 2013 18:19 EDT
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A man and woman on the brink of divorce. Photo: Shutterstock.com.
 
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A Sharia council in London was revealed Sunday to have utterly failed the community of battered Islamic wives in Britain by forcing numerous women to stay with abusive husbands, ostensibly to work out their differences with the help of God.

Secret video shot inside the Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, later obtained by BBC One’s program “Panorama”, shows Dr. Suhaib Hasan, in thick beard and thicker glasses, listening as a woman pleads with him to grant her divorce.

“I hate him,” she says. “I can’t even bear to look at him, he has ruined my life.”

Instead of granting her request, Hasan sent the couple away for another month of counseling, in what the BBC says has become a common order of business for the group.

While that might sound shocking to most endowed with western sensibilities, it bears a striking resemblance to a plan to make divorce harder in North Carolina, hatched by Republicans who currently have near complete control of their state’s government following last November’s election.

The so-called “Healthy Marriage Act” works by mandating a two-year waiting period for all divorce requests, during which time the couple would be required to undergo marriage counseling and take classes on improving communications skills and the impacts of divorce on children. It does not require that the couple live together or take classes together.

The BBC noted that London’s Leyton Islamic Sharia Council is the country’s most active, hearing about 50 cases a month. Nearly all of the cases are marital disputes brought by Islamic women seeking a divorce, and only on rare occasions are their requests granted, the report added.

The lack of contrast between the London Sharia council’s practices and the North Carolina Republican proposal is stunning, particularly for a political party that embedded a rejection of Islamic law in its core platform.

That Republican Party plank was created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who admitted on camera that he is “not aware of any court that’s actually accepted” Sharia law in place of American law.

In 2011, North Carolina was one of more than 30 states where Republicans introduced bills to ban Sharia law, resulting in unintended consequences like accidentally banning Christian traditions, and leaving Islamic women with marriage contracts forged outside the U.S. suddenly without any legal standing in the event of a divorce.

North Carolina’s anti-Sharia proposal, pitched by the now-retired state Rep. George Cleveland (R), ultimately died in committee.

Although several states did pass bans on Sharia, a federal appeals court held in Jan. 2012 that such bans violate the religious freedom of Muslim-Americans.
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Photo: Shutterstock.com.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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