- Judge Shamim Qureshi is a highly respected jurist at Bristol Crown Court
- He is also the leading legal figure at the Sharia Muslim Arbitration Tribunal
- Judicial authorities granted Judge Qureshi permission to sit on the MAT
- The MAT was founded by hardline cleric Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi
Crown court judge Shamim Qureshi, pictured, is also sitting in the Sharia Muslim Appeals Tribunal
A Muslim Crown Court judge has been granted permission to sit on a 'Sharia court' to rule on disputes such as marriage breakdowns in accordance with Islamic principals.
Judge Shamim Qureshi, who ordinarily sits at Bristol Crown Court has been granted permission by judicial authorities to act as the 'presiding judge' at the controversial Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT).
The 'court' was established in 2007 by hardline cleric Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, who was a leading figure in protests against Charlie Hebdo magazine after 11 of their journalists were massacred by Muslim extremists.
According to the Telegraph, Home Secretary Theresa May is set to launch an independent review into the MAT following allegations that the Muslim court undermined the rights of women.
Campaigners have claimed the tribunal, which is based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, is discriminatory towards women and often rules unfairly in favour of men.
According to the tribunal's website, it specialises in Islamic divorce, inheritance law and Islamic wills, family meditation and mosque dispute resolution.
It was established under the 1996 Arbitration Act on a statutory basis and as a result its decisions can be upheld by English courts.
In 2008, in its first ruling, MAT decided an inheritance case involving three sisters and two brothers. in accordance with standard Sharia principles, the male heirs should be given twice as much money as the women.
According to the Telegraph there is no suggestion that Judge Qureshi has been involved in any controversial decisions with the Tribunal.
However, in March 2015 he ordered hardline Christian preacher Mike Overd to pay a £200 fine and pay £250 compensation after the former paratrooper quoted offensive passages from the Bible concerning homosexuality in public.
Cross bench peer Baroness Cox has introduced a private member's bill in the House of Lords to dramatically restrict the powers of Sharia courts.
Cross bench peer Baroness Cox, pictured, has introduced private member's bill to restrict the powers of Sharia courts
Baroness Cox told the House of Lords: 'The Bill will strengthen the position of vulnerable women who need protection from exploitation. It will ensure that all such women, whatever sect or creed, get the help they need to enjoy full lives.
'There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights.'
Baroness Cox said her bill will address a number of major problems in the country including: 'The suffering of women oppressed by religiously sanctioned gender discrimination in this country; and a rapidly developing alternative quasi-legal system which undermines the fundamental principle of one law for all—a matter of especial significance as we mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta.
'The Bill is also strongly supported by many organisations concerned with the suffering of vulnerable women, including the Muslim Women’s Advisory Council, Karma Nirvana, Passion for Freedom as well as by the National Secular Society: I am grateful to them all.'
Baroness Cox used an example of a man who wanted a doctor to perform an illegal operation on his wife so he could sell her to a Pakistani man who would marry her and receive a British passport.
She said there are approximately 100,000 Islamic marriages in the UK which are not registered with the civil authorities.
She revealed: 'A consultant gynaecologist described to me a request from a 63 year- old man for a repair of the hymen of his 23 year-old wife.
'The gynaecologist refused as this is an illegal operation, whereupon the man became intensely angry, claiming that doctors in his town, not far from London, frequently undertake this operation under another name.
'He wanted this surgical procedure for his wife in order to take her back to their country of origin to marry another man. Her next husband could then obtain a visa to enter the UK.
He would probably abuse and then divorce his wife and marry another or more wives here.
'The man who asked for this operation said that he earned about £10,000 for effecting this arrangement, which was very helpful as he was unemployed. Such shocking cases surely cannot be allowed to continue.
'The rights of Muslim women and the rule of the law of our land must be upheld.'