‘Choosing Sharia’

Koran shutterstockOne of the parts of HJS that we are proudest of is our extraordinary programme of events which run every week in the heart of Westminster. For members of the public and members of the Houses of Parliament these events provide a terrific facility for bringing voices and ideas into the heart of our democracy which may otherwise not be heard loudly enough. Every week while Parliament is sitting we have many events. But this week we had an event which was quite exceptional.

There were three speakers, all academics. Two from the Netherlands – Machteld Zee and David Suurland – and, from the UK, Dr Rumy Hasan. All addressed the same subject which was the nature of – and rise of – Sharia law in the West. Machteld – who interned at the HJS three years ago – recently completed her PhD in Holland and has published it as a book called ‘Choosing Sharia’.

It is the product of, among other things, time spent at Sharia courts in Britain observing proceedings. Her findings made newspaper headlines in the UK when they were released last month and provide further evidence of the fact that these tribunals which are meant to work in conjunction with British law – specifically UK arbitration law – in fact run wholly against the traditions and precepts of British justice.

They do this not least by trampling over the concept of ‘one law for all’ and against all other equality laws, not least the equality of women by according their status in court as being worth half that of a man. These facts are now irrefutable and provide further evidence of what the European Court itself said more than a decade ago now – that Sharia law is ‘incompatible’ with the rule of law in developed democracies like Britain.

Having laid this out, Machteld’s thesis was then developed by the other contributors. David Suurland explained the category error of treating this matter as a rights dispute. Those who push for Sharia law are, he showed, on a moral and strategic plane alongside other totalitarian ideologies including communism and fascism.

Rumy Hasan then gave an impassioned plea to Parliament not to allow Britain to become ‘Balkanized’ by permitting parallel lives to be lived in our countries. If people want to live as though they are in Saudi Arabia then they should go and live in Saudi Arabia, he explained – but they should not be encouraged to live such lives in Britain.

Interestingly enough, new laws preventing the further encroachment of Sharia in the Netherlands have in recent months been pushed not from the political right but from the political left. This was a revelation for many of those present but should not be. After all, why would any left-wing movement seriously support an anti-women, anti-minority, bigoted and misogynistic movement?

They no longer do in Holland and perhaps they may at some point no longer do so in Britain. But ideas like this – and the example of countries further down the track than we are – are vital to bring into the heart of Parliament because one day we must hope they are legislated on and agreed on by people across the entire spectrum of our politics.


One of the more interesting stories of the new year that we have been following intently at The Henry Jackson Society is the collapse in the global oil price.

Aside from the happier experience of pumping gas at a petrol station today, one of the main consequences of the price of Brent crude sinking from $110 a barrel in 2014 to around $30 now, is that some of the world’s nastiest regimes have been caught in a cash crunch. Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are all feeling the pinch. In Venezuela’s case, the economic crisis caused by the Chavista mismanagement of Venezuela’s oil has already seen a victory for the opposition in parliamentary elections, although the presidency remains out of reach for now.

While it remains profitable for Russia and Saudi Arabia to pump oil, the vast profiteering of the past few years is a distant memory. Both countries have had to make budget adjustments, with the Russians also impacted by economic sanctions resulting from their Ukrainian misadventure. Even with their huge reserves, the Saudis have started to confront the need to reform their economy, and have slashed subsidies on petrol for the first time, with other products to follow. With another authoritarian regime’s oil about to come onto the market when Iranian sanctions get lifted shortly, the immediate prospects for an oil price recovery appear dim.

It has always been one of the great ironies of history that the main beneficiaries of our thirst for commodities in the West are those countries that do not share our core values or expectations of behaviour. If the oil price sinks yet lower, it will mean that countries like these will have less opportunity to meddle overseas as they will be forced into domestic economic tinkering and straitened circumstances. For the sake of international order and security, this can only be a good thing.

Dr Alan Mendoza is Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society
Follow Alan on Twitter: @AlanMendoza

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