Sharia courts pose a growing threat to women’s rights, The Freethinker, 15 December 2016
Sharia courts pose a growing threat to women’s rights, The Freethinker, 15 December 2016
Minderheiten sind kein homogenen Gemeinschaften, Jungle World, 15 December 2016
Supplementary written evidence submitted by One Law for All
RE: New Submission by Maryam Namazie to Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Sharia Councils
I am writing to raise serious concerns over the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on 1 November 2016 at which I gave oral testimony and to provide further and new evidence on the matter at hand, particularly with regards the transnational Islamist links with Sharia courts as well as the discriminatory content and intent of the courts, which violate the UK’s gender equality obligations and commitments to freedom of religion and expression. Please treat this letter as a submission to the inquiry.
Key findings are:
SECTION 1: ISLAMISM, APOSTASY, ISLAMOPHOBIA AND “AUTHENTIC” MUSLIM WOMEN
Accusations of “Anti-Faith” and “Islamophobia”
“But Ms Namazie, according to your blog, which I read earlier, this isn’t just about Sharia courts. If we were to look at implementing your view of the world, the majority of discrimination would be faced by the 33 million Christians of this country because you would have away with Christianity and any religious institutions… What you are saying is that you are denying everybody’s religious view on life”.
“…it is not an insult to Islam or any religion, if one becomes an atheist – either in public or private. It is exercising a fundamental right to freedom of conscience. Moreover, criticism of religion, including Islam, is not “Islamophobia” but exercising a fundamental right to freedom of expression. Those who “punish” or forcibly prevent freedom of conscience and expression are the ones who commit a crime – not those exercising their basic human right”.
Islamism and Apostasy
“The three names Ahamdies, Qadianies and Mirzai are all used for one group. They follow Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian. This group is not a Muslim group so they claim to be so Islamic Scholars of the Muslim World have declared them as non-Muslims and therefore it not only a sin but an act of heresy to marry such a person. The difference between Muslims and this group is that while all the Muslims believe in the finality of the prophet hood of Muhammed (pbuh), this group believes otherwise, therefore going against one of the basic cardinal principles of belief in Islam.”
“First of all, I’d like to say that Muslims are not seeking the introduction of all the aspects of the Sharia law, particularly the criminal law aspects, in the UK. This is not a Muslim country and we’re not seeking to change or convert this country into one. However, Sharia law says that if a Muslim changes their religion it is treason and the punishment for treason is death”.
He has been filmed speaking at a Khatme Nubbawat conference.
Suhaib Hasan, a co-founder of the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton (and father of Khola Hasan who gave oral evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee), is a member of The European Council for Fatwa and Research chaired by Yusuf al-Qaradawi who says that killing apostates is essential.
“As a Muslim we should know that our religion is perfect without any imperfection as Allah says; ‘this day, I have perfected your religion for you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion’. Therefore, belittling them or calling them as out-of-date constitutes disbelief as Allah says”.
“Muslim fundamentalism… stands out… by dint of its transnational nature, the ubiquity of its adherents, and the sophistication and reach of its armed groups. Muslim fundamentalists believe in the imposition of “God’s law” or sharia – and only their version of it. Beyond the law, Bennoune says, fundamentalists denounce secularists and seek to bring politicised religion to all spheres”.
* London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center (whose Trustees include officials from the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brunei, Qatar, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan – many of which punish apostasy with the death penalty and have discriminatory family laws. Ahmad Al-Dubayan who gave oral evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee as the Chairman of the UK Board of Sharia Councils which aims to “regulate” the courts is Director General of this centre.)
* Muslim World League (which propagates Saudi Wahabbism, the Muslim Brotherhood played a role in its founding)
* Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith (involved in promoting sectarianism and jihad in the Indian sub-continent)
* UK Islamic Mission (inspired by Jamaat e Islami and Syed Abul Ala Maududi and shares the same ideology as Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood)
* Dawatul Islam, UK (UK branch of the Bangladeshi Jamaat e Islami. In 1971, some of the Jamaat e Islami were implicated in running death squads and organising lynchings against people demanding independence)
* Jamia Mosque & Islamic Center, Birmingham (where protestors marched from the mosque after Friday prayers to the Bangladesh High Commission in Birmingham after the execution of a Bangladeshi Islamist convicted of atrocities committed during the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan following the country’s war crimes tribunal)
* Muslim Welfare House, London (was founded by Kamal Helbawy of the Muslim Brotherhood who has praised Osama Bin Laden. They have fatwas defending polygamy and prohibiting Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men as well as campaigned to stop the selling of alcohol)
Identity Politics and the “Authentic Muslim Woman”
“Thus the interpretations of, for example, women’s right to divorce by Britain’s Sharia councils must be seen as an ideological statement. Having married and divorced in Pakistan, having edited “Knowing our Rights”, and having assisted dozens of women in crisis in Britain who have interacted with the Sharia councils, I can confidently state that the Sharia council interpretations here in Britain are among the most conservative and gender discriminatory in the world”.
“What about those women who never go to the Sharia councils, why is their opinion never sought? Are they somehow not ‘real Muslims’ in the eyes of academics and policy makers and thus not worthy of policy consideration?”
“Our testimonies show that Muslim women are coerced and bullied to get them to appear before a court. Women we know have been raped, isolated or shunned as a direct result of their experience of Sharia courts. Is it Islamophobic to stand up to these practices? It is really shocking that an MP and the Muslim Women’s Network which has been carrying out a hostile Twitter campaign, should have contributed to the extreme risk that activists and survivors face. Neither the review (which does not have these issues in its terms of reference) nor the Home Affairs Select Committee are examining apostasy, blasphemy, ‘Zina’ or sex outside marriage, which are extremely serious crimes under fundamentalist interpretations of Sharia. In many countries, all these ‘crimes’ carry the death penalty. Where fundamentalists cannot impose a death penalty, they incite terror in the community. The impunity that Sharia courts enjoy must be ended”.
Section 2: DISCRIMINATORY INTENT AND NATURE OF SHARIA COURTS
” States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women: (a) The same right to enter into marriage; (b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent; (c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution; (d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount; (e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights; (f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount; (g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation; (h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration. 2. The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory”.
Court or Mediation body
“A group of concerned Muslim scholars and field workers among the Muslim community, aware of the acute sense of alienation felt by many Muslims, when it comes to solving their personal problems, met together in mid-1982, at the Central Mosque of Birmingham and decided to establish “The Islamic Shari’a Council” to be a quasi-Islamic Court. It would apply Islamic rules in what was presented to it, of the Family problems in particular and any Islamic questions in general.”
“This body deals with matters of Fiqa, Marriage and Divorce. The Shariah Council is made up of elders who are well versed in the science of Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic matters and rulings. Birmingham Central Mosque is the only Islamic institution in Britain in which a woman has been elected as a high official of a Shariah court second to a judge. The Shariah Council is the formal body of legal Islamic opinion and jurisdiction for local Muslims and the community”. [of note is that even though we have been told they have a woman Sharia judge, their website states “a woman has been elected as a high official of a Shariah court second to a judge“. [It is noteworthy that their celebrated woman judge is actually “second to a judge”.]
“The Committee has consistently expressed concern that identity-based personal status laws and customs perpetuate discrimination against women and that the preservation of multiple legal systems is in itself discriminatory against women. Lack of individual choice relating to the application or observance of particular laws and customs exacerbates this discrimination”.
“As for the three Talaqs pronounced separately in three consecutive months, the wife in such a case is separated from her husband permanently. The husband has the right to take her back (known as Ruju’) after the first or second Talaq, but not the third Talaq, which is the final one.
Pronouncing the word “Talaq” Three Times in one Sitting is counted as one Talaq in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS). The husband would still have the right to Ruju’ after such a Talaq within the Iddat period and can take back his wife by having two witnesses present”.
“The situation in which the wife initiates divorce proceedings is known as Khul’a. Once the husband agrees to divorce her in exchange for some money or the remission of her dower, the divorce is known as Talaq. It is valid as the Talaq given by the man of his own initiative. Khul’a depends upon the agreement reached between the two parties. If the husband agrees to give Talaq provided that his wife either abandon her right to the dower (if the dower has not yet been paid) or return back the amount of the dower to the husband (if the dower had been paid). Once the husband agrees to Khul’a, he is asked to pronounce TALAQ in exchange for the above-mentioned”.
“The right of divorce is primarily with the husband in the Shari’a. A decree of divorce issued by a civil Court will be valid if:
If neither of the above is the case, then the wife may apply for an Islamic divorce through the Council. An application for divorce by the wife is known as Khul’a, a condition of which is that the wife returns to the husband any Maher (dower) or jewellery she received from him, if he so demands”.
“The following points briefly illustrate the ways in which an Islamic marriage comes to an end. Ending a marriage in Islam can take place by one of three main methods:
Talaq: This form of divorce is the sole right of the husband whereby he pronounces the word divorce, talaq or any other similar word (in any language) to establish a divorce. No one may deprive him of this right given that he has been awarded such a right by God. This right belongs only to the husband and moreover, he does not need the consent or approval of any one, including his wife. Therefore, a woman divorcing her husband is Islamically incorrect and is invalid as a female has no such recourse to such a right, although she may request the conclusion of the marriage through other means. Similarly, an Islamic judge cannot issue a divorce but he can (once being recognised as an Islamic judge) issue a faskh (marriage dissolution).
Khul’: It is a divorce issued by the husband in exchange of money. It happens when the wife requests her husband to divorce her, but he refuses unless she returns her dowry. Again, it is the right of the husband and is conditional to his approval.
Faskh; it is a marriage dissolution issued by a judge in response to a request by the wife and normally takes place against the will of the husband. However, the judge has to be appointed either by the leader of the Muslims, or by the Muslim community, or at least recognized as being an Islamic judge by the vast majority of the Muslim community. Merely being an imam neither suffices nor authorises him to dissolve marriages.
All of the Islamic (legal) schools of thoughts agree that the Islamic judge who implements Islamic law must be privy to certain requirements such as being a Muslim. In the Qur’an it is stated, “And never will Allah grant to the disbelievers a way (to triumph) over the believers”.
“…divorce issued by the civil court in response to the wife’s request is neither a valid divorce nor legitimate marriage dissolution. This means that such a wife remains a wife and is not free to marry another man. Marrying another man while the original marriage is still in place is a violation of Islamic law and a crime. What is more dangerous than this is the fact that all children she gives birth to before obtaining a proper marriage dissolution may be considered to be of the first husband from whom she assumed she had been divorced. Wives who face intolerable situations may seek marriage dissolution by a recognized body that is known and accepted in acting as a judiciary body for Muslims. No single imam or Mufti can do that by himself”.
“How could it be detrimental to women to benefit from laws they can vote and help modify according to their will and rights as citizens? How could it be beneficial to women to be held under laws that they cannot vote for or against, that they cannot change and which are subject to the exclusive interpretations of most conservative men who self-appoint themselves as interpreters of god’s will? It amounts to saying that exercising one’s democratic rights is detrimental to women’s rights. How could it increase abuse? From the point of view of strict logic, I would be interested in knowing how can it be demonstrated that exercising one’s rights is detrimental to one’s rights”.
“The prophet Muhammad has said what could be translated to, ‘The women who seek divorce (‘khul’a’), without good reason are hypocrites'”.
“He should try to keep both wives. Either visiting the one, in her Muslim homeland from time to time if he can afford to do so or to bring one of them to U.K. through a valid visa. Just emigration to U.K., is not a valid reason to divorce one of them”.
“States parties’ reports also disclose that polygamy is practiced in a number of countries. Polygamous marriage contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men, and can have such serious emotional and financial consequences for her and her dependents that such marriages ought to be discouraged and prohibited. The Committee notes with concern that some States parties, whose constitutions guarantee equal rights, permit polygamous marriage in accordance with personal or customary law. This violates the constitutional rights of women, and breaches the provisions of article 5 (a) of the Convention.
Further, the Committee indicates that a state is breaching its obligations under the Convention by not actively prohibiting polygamy in customary marriages. While most countries report that national constitutions and laws comply with the Convention, custom, tradition and failure to enforce these laws in reality contravene the Convention”.
Marital Rape and Sexual Abuse
“Narrated by Abdullah the prophet said, “there are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works:
“A disobedient slave until he returns to his masters and puts his hand in theirs
“A woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again
“And the drunkard until he becomes sober” reported by Ibn Hibban
“The warning given to women whose husband is angry with her reaches such an extent that it would shake the conscience of every righteous wife who has faith in Allah and the last day. She is told that her prayer and good deeds will not be accepted, until her husband is pleased with her again.
“After this advice, if your wife should persist upon not responding to your sexual needs then you should divorce her. This is because a woman who can not have conjugal relationship should not be married in the first place”. (This is no longer on their website but available via screenshot here.)
Domestic Violence and Child Custody
“I think you should be courageous enough to ask this question to him. Just tell me why are you upset huh? Is it because of my cooking? Is it because I see my friends huh? So I can correct myself”.
“At the same time, the husband (respondent) will be contacted with a copy of his wife’s reasons for wanting a divorce requesting him to clarify his position in the matter.
If he writes to the Council and asks for reconciliation.
The applicant will be contacted again and instructed accordingly by the Council (with a copy of the respondent’s letter).
The Council will arrange a meeting between both parties at the Council in an effort to resolve the case by reconciling both parties or issuing a divorce. It is necessary for the applicant (wife) to attend the meeting. Otherwise a judgement cannot be passed.
Normally at the request of the respondent (husband) the Council allows a reasonable period of time for reconciliation efforts to be made by the husband through his own resources and family contacts.
However, if the applicant does not agree to reunite, then eventually the Council, under the rules of Islamic Law, will have to dissolve the Nikah ( marriage) and issue a Divorce Certificate to the applicant. (Reconciliation can take place only if both parties agree to it.)”
48.Whilst the Sharia courts say they do not deal with child custody issues, the above cases as well as rulings on their websites say otherwise. When questioned on “What age is it suitable for children to live with the father” upon divorce, they issued ruling that the child must go to the father at a preset age, irrespective of child welfare rules (advice is no longer on their website but screenshot available here):
“Till the age of seven the mother has the sole right to have the custody of the child if she marries someone who is not related to the child, she loses her right in the custody. If the child were still under seven, he would be given custody of a female (preferably among the mother’s relatives like his maternal aunt or grandmother). But if he is above seven, he is no more in need of a woman’s care and he is to be in custody of the father“.
49. The courts also address issues such as the veil. The Islamic Sharia court has ruled (no longer on their website but a screenshot is available here):“It is obligatory for a woman to cover her whole body whenever she comes out of home in accordance with the saying of Allah.
‘O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when out of doors): That is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (33: 59).
The Arabic word for outer garment used in the Qur’an is ‘Jilbab’. It is reported in an authentic hadith the when this verse was revealed, the women in Madina wrapped themselves in such a way that their heads used to be seen as if crows were upon them. They just left their eyes open to see the way when they walk.
“A woman is required to cover her head whether she is alone or in presence of someone else in accordance to the saying of the Prophet (SAWS):
“Allah does not accept the prayer of an adult woman without s scarf”.
As to why she is required to cover her body in such a way, the answer is that the woman herself is ‘Awrah’ (meant to be covered).
The main objective behind is to cover her eyes of the non-related (Mahram) men to avoid attraction or temptation. The display of the beauty or the part of woman and free mixing with men lead to scandals like that of Mr Clinton & Monica which is not acceptable in Islam which invites for a clean and pure society”.
50. The Birmingham Sharia Council has also ruled that the hijab is compulsory. So much for the propaganda on the “right” and “choice” to veil. In a letter, they write:
“In Islam hijab is compulsory and any woman who denies the ruling of hijab is disobeying her Lord and is rebelling against the Islamic law”.
51. Evidence given at the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing stated that women’s testimony was worth half that of a man’s only in financial transactions. This is blatantly untrue and applies to divorce amongst others. The Islamic Sharia Council explains it here (deleted from their website but available via screenshot):
” There are issues where only women’s testimony is enough like those related to birth of a child, the period of suckling and weaning. In such cases, which are normally handled by the women, testimony of a single lady is accepted…
Cases of serious nature, like that of fornication, adultery and rape attract a very hard punishment in Islam. Flogging a hundred times for unmarried couples and stoning to the married ones. To prove such an allegation, even two male witnesses are not enough, but four of them are required. Suppose those who witnessed were women alone. If the number of witnesses is doubled, less would be the chance for the implementation of this punishment. Many people do not object a lot to these ways of punishment but they do not realize how difficult it has been made in Islam, to prove such allegations. [Author’s Note: Confession, including under duress, is in fact the main way in which adultery is proven in countries where stoning to death is legal].
The text (Surah Al-Baqara 2:282) which requires two female witnesses in place of one male witness, gives a clear reason for it i.e. “if one of them forgets, the other reminds her.” Is this derogatory to the status of the women or is it a revealed secret about the nature of the women? Though much has been said about the difference between a man’s brain and that of a women but I would rather like to quote the latest research made about this issue. According to a survey, as published in Los Angeles Times (U.S.A) , made involving fifty men and women for quite a considerable time, the out come was as follows:
Man’s mind is uni-focal while the women’s mind is multi-focal. In other words, a man would be fully occupied with the task he is involved with; he may not be distracted by anything else while being engaged in his activity. On the other hand, a woman may be busy in kitchen work and she will be easily alert to a phone buzzer or her infants cry from the cradle. In a way she is found to be more sensitive and active in her dealings. Thus she has got a very praise worthy character but that is not so good for a case of testimony which requires more attention and concentration. What is wrong then, if a second woman is needed, only to remind her is she fails to deliver her testimony completely. So it is a case of verification of the testimony, not that of degradation to the status of the women at all.
In many other matters, the nature of women are considered. For example, the right of divorce is vested in the hand of the man while she is allowed to ask for divorce either directly or through a Qadi (Judge). Why? Because the women are kind-hearted human beings who are governed by their emotions, a character strongly needed for bringing up the children. On the other hand, man is governed by his mind more than his emotions. He would think twice but more than that before uttering the word “Talaq” (divorce). Even if he misuses this word (as noticed again and again) a long procedure following a divorce i.e. the Iddat period of a woman, allows him to retract the step he has taken. He can revoke that Talaq within this cooling period of approximately three months time.
To deny the difference between the two genders is a denial of truth. Allah who created us, gave us rulings according to our nature. And all is well as long as we go by the nature”.
Child Marriage and Forced Marriage
SECTION 3: OPPOSING RACISM AND CULTURAL RELATIVISM AND DEFENDING SECULARISM
Opposing Racism and Sexism
Sharia courts, which distinguishes men from women and excludes or restricts women’s rights meets the elements in this broad definition of discrimination.
Religious-Right versus Right to Religion
“…in applying freedom of religion, both those who believe and those who choose not to believe, as well as those who seek to manifest belief and those who do not wish to be coerced to do so, must be taken into consideration. This is only possible in a framework of secularism…
“…The term secularism here means emphasis on the temporal over the religious in law and an accompanying minimization of the role of religion in the functioning of the state and legal system. The significance of the temporal for human rights is not that it is always morally superior to the religious, but rather that it is contestable. The temporal allows space for dissent which the ‘you cannot argue with God’ paradigm foreclose”.
Regulation versus Abolition
One Law for All
Clearly, Sharia courts are not compliant with either British law or international human rights treaties. By undermining British legal principles of equality before the law, the universal concept of one law for all and the protection of the rights of women and children, these courts help to increase discrimination, intimidation and threats against the most vulnerable. By accommodating them, the government is itself in breach of its obligations. The law and not religion must be the key basis for securing justice for all citizens.
One Law for All
BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
Britisk eks-muslim til Nettavisen-konferanse, Nettavisen, 7 December 2016
The below was published in The Freethinker.
I gave oral evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee evidence session on Sharia Councils on November 1 on why Sharia courts in Britain are an Islamist project to control women, are discriminatory and should be dismantled. (This was preceded by a written statement.)
When questioned by MP Naz Shah, above, though, one would have thought it was I and not Sharia courts that were under investigation. She said:
But Ms Namazie, according to your blog, which I read earlier, this isn’t just about Sharia courts. If we were to look at implementing your view of the world, the majority of discrimination would be faced by the 33 million Christians of this country because you would have away with Christianity and any religious institutions … What you are saying is that you are denying everybody’s religious view on life.
Naz Shah also accused opponents of “Islamophobia”.
The accusations were a clear attempt to discredit my evidence solely based on my atheism and being an ex-Muslim. There was no similar attempt to discredit any of the other nine witnesses giving oral evidence in this manner – including those who actually ran the discriminatory Sharia courts.
The wilful conflation between criticism of religion and the religious-Right with discrimination against believers is nothing new. Nor is the attempt to vilify dissenters.
As Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas says:
Yes, we do have an already quite long experience of perversity, which magically turns the victim into the abuser and blames her for the crimes that are committed against her.
Whether she realises it or not, Naz Shah’s line of questioning feeds into a “culture that incites religious hatred and violence towards those, especially from Muslim backgrounds, who are perceived to be apostates, atheists and non-conformists”.
This is especially true in a context where atheists are executed in 13 countries and incitement to violence, discrimination and shunning are pervasive, including in Britain – as was highlighted in a recent ITV documentary by award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan, Islam’s Non Believers.
And the threats of violence are not limited to ex-Muslims and atheists from Muslim backgrounds but all those who are seen to challenge Islamist norms of the “authentic Muslim”, including for example, Usama Hasan, above, an imam who was threatened in Pakistan and in Britain for his views on evolution and women’s rights, and secular Muslim women’s rights activists like Yasmin Rehman who have been branded “apostates” and “anti-faith” for speaking out against Sharia courts.
Hate crimes against those deemed “apostates” are on the rise, including against Christian covert from Islam Nissar Hussain who was forced to flee his home in Bradford with his family due to violence and threats in November 2016 and Ahmadiyya Asad Shah who was murdered in Glasgow in March 2016.
Sharia courts normalise discrimination against women but also incite violence against apostates, amongst others. Which is why their existence is of concern to ex-Muslims as well as society at large.
Sharia judges, for example, promote the death penalty for apostasy. Haitham al Haddad, above, who was until recently a Sharia judge at the Islamic Sharia Council, has said: “apostasy deserves, once the conditions are met, deserves capital punishment in an Islamic State and I can say this openly; I am not here to hide it“.
Suhaib Hasan, a co-founder of the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton is a member of The European Council for Fatwa and Research chaired by Yusuf al-Qaradawi who says that killing apostates is essential.
In the testimonies of women gathered by the One Law for All, Nadia Sadiq went before a judge at the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, which is a Salafi mosque where Abu Usamah has said women were created deficient and “whoever changes his religion, kill him“; Habiba Jan, went to a Sharia court judged by Anjem Choudary who defends the death penalty for apostasy and stoning to death for adultery. He has recently been jailed for urging support for ISIS.
Even questioning the competency or relevance of Sharia courts are equated with “disbelief”, a form of kufr, which has serious penalties including the death penalty in some countries. The Islamic Sharia Council, for example, has said (now deleted but screenshot available here):
As a Muslim we should know that our religion is perfect without any imperfection as Allah says: ‘this day, I have perfected your religion for you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion’.
Therefore, belittling them or calling them as out-of-date constitutes disbelief as Allah says.
Far from being harmless, Ms Shah’s allegations feed into a climate that targets dissenters.
Needless to say, it is not an insult to Islam or any religion, if one becomes an atheist – either in public or private. It is exercising a fundamental right to freedom of conscience.
Moreover, criticism of religion, including Islam, is not “Islamophobia” but exercising a fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Those who “punish” or forcibly prevent freedom of conscience and expression are the ones who commit a crime – not those exercising their basic human right.
It is high time that human rights and “progressive” organisations and personalities stop legitimising de-facto or de-jure blasphemy and apostasy laws and start defending, not blaming, Islamism’s victims.