One Law for All demonstration

This Saturday was a busy day for London and protests. As well as the Million Women Rise protesting violence against women, there was also the One Law for All demonstration and day of activities. The One Law for All campaign was launched in December of last year and campaigns against the introduction of Sharia courts in the UK. The campaign argues that Sharia law discriminates against women and leaves women and children particularly vulnerable. Citizens and residents of the UK have certain rights and responsibilities and separating out one group by saying that different laws apply to them deprives them of their rights. The One Law for All campaign argues that there should be one law for everyone in the UK.

Visit the One Law for All website to find out more and sign their petition.

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5 Responses to “One Law for All demonstration”


  1. 1 cath March 12, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks for drawing attention to this – the threat of sharia courts in the UK is deeply alarming and it’s good to see people mobilising against them

  2. 2 grammarking March 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Actually, sharia courts aren’t really a threat as such, their use has been allowed for a long time. Anyone may use a third party to arbitrate civil cases if both parties agree on who to use before the arbitration. These “sharia courts” are simply when they choose their local Imam. There have been Jewish ‘courts’, and secular courts with all kinds of people.

    Now of course the problem is that the Imam is going to adjudicate along with Islamic law, which is deeply discriminatory against women. Women are being encouraged by their communities (and sometimes forced by their spouses) to agree to this arbitration even though it is to their disadvantage. Now of course with more muslim women in the UK this is a bigger problem than before.

    This is an issue which has been widely misreported in the press and we should be very clear about what we’re fighting in One Law for All.

    • 3 Clare March 14, 2009 at 9:54 pm

      This is one thing I find difficult about the One Law for All campaign and I hope in my attempt to sum up their rationale that I haven’t misrepresented them, but as you point out third party arbitration is perfectly legal in this country for any group of individuals. To ban groups from living their lives as they choose would be illiberal and unjust. A significant question is whether all the individuals involved are fully consenting or fully aware and informed about their full rights under British law. Another concern is where the boundary lies between civil and criminal matters in cases like custody, particularly if domestic abuse is thought to be involved. Personally, I’m interested in seeing how the situation develops and what attempts are made to address the concerns raised. I can also appreciate the real need and desire for those who feel strongly on this issue to make their views heard in a protest considering how easily women’s rights and safety are dismissed even in this country.

  3. 4 cath March 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Grammarking, i agree that it’s vital to distinguish carefully. I couldn’t, for example, sign up to the specific petition on the site, because its first call is for recognition that “Sharia and all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular.” Clearly, not all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory. But discrimination is built into the particular system of sharia law which these proposed courts will be abiding by. The ‘one law for all’ principle is much more valuable than the specific calls of this petition.

    (I was thinking of blogging about this, but discussing it here instead is just as good 🙂 )

  4. 5 grammarking March 15, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I also had difficulty signing the petition.

    Personally, I would be more inclined to get rid of the right to choose your own third party if it means people will avoid domestic violence and discrimination. Even in civil cases, a judge should be acceptable to everyone. They are, after all, appointed to implement the law, they know how it works. That would mean we may need more judges. I don’t see that as a big infringement on rights.

    Alternatively, there could be a system whereby judgements made by a third party can be reviewed, and if they’re based on discriminatory reasoning, they can be overturned. I think it would be better to ensure that women in such communities know their rights, though.

    I don’t think that ignorance of rights is the problem here though. There is such huge community pressure that even if they know it’s not in their best interest and that they don’t have to agree to it, they’ll still feel obliged to use such ‘sharia courts’. How can you get out of an oppressive or abusive situation whilst still trying to be a muslim? I don’t know if such a person would be welcomed back to the mosque. It might be that exercising your rights in this situation would involve complete alienation from your friends and rejection by your community. I’d rather people in that situation didn’t have to make that choice.


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