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Courts should offer Islamic divorce an expert has claimed

Divorce courts throughout the UK should have specialised units able to offer Islamic divorces, according to an expert in sharia law. Elham Manea, who currently serves as an associate professor in Middle East studies at Zurich University, is expected to advise a home affairs select committee that family courts throughout the UK should offer religious divorces and that all religious marriages be automatically registered. Such changes would, Manea argues, render ‘discriminatory’ sharia councils redundant as, in the vast majority of instances, they are used by Muslim women seeking to divorce their husbands. Whilst women are required to attend a hearing and put forward their case for a divorce, men are simply required to utter the word talaq (Arabic for divorce) three times in order to end their marriages. Some have argued that sharia councils should continue to operate in the UK as they afford recourse to women whose religious marriages have not been officially registered and are therefore unable to use the civil courts. Manea, however, feels that the UK should follow Morocco and Tunisia both of which have introduced legislation to ensure that a legal divorce is automatically followed by a religious one. Numerous commentators have argued that the Islamic legal system treats women as second-class and condones domestic violence, marital rape and child marriage which, according to Tory MP Nus Ghani, “does not sit well under British law and cannot go unchallenged.”

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