1. ITV Report

Sharia Law independent review launched as part of counter-extremism strategy

Video report by ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo

Forced marriages and anti-women divorce settlements will be among issues examined by an independent review into the way Sharia Law is apparently being misused or exploited.

The review, commissioned by Home Secretary Theresa May as part of a counter-extremism strategy, will recommend ways in which the Government can combat any discrimination in England and Wales, particularly among women.

The Home Office said there is "evidence some Sharia councils may be working in a discriminatory and unacceptable way, seeking to legitimise forced marriage and issuing divorces that are unfair to women, contrary to the teachings of Islam".

The panel will also seek out examples of best practice among Sharia councils before completing its review in 2017.

Review panel chair Professor Mona Siddiqui received an OBE for her services to inter-faith relations in 2012. Credit: PA Archive

The Home Office said the review intends to explore whether, and to what extent, the application of Sharia law may be incompatible with the law in England and Wales.

It will examine the ways in which Sharia may be being misused, or exploited, in a way that may discriminate against certain groups, undermine shared values and cause social harms.

The review panel will be led by Professor Mona Siddiqui, an expert in Islamic and Interreligious studies, and include family law barrister Sam Momtaz, retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley and specialist family law lawyer Anne Marie Hutchinson OBE QC.

Two religious and theological experts – Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi and Imam Qari Asim - will advise the panel on detailed religious and theological issues.

The Home Secretary said the review would help the Government "better understand" the extent to which Sharia Law is being misused.

Many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices, and benefit a great deal from the guidance they offer.

A number of women have reportedly been victims of what appear to be discriminatory decisions taken by Sharia councils, and that is a significant concern. There is only one rule of law in our country, which provides rights and security for every citizen.

– Home Secretary Theresa May