Church of Scotland backs Islamic sharia law courts

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THE Church of Scotland last night welcomed the possibility of introducing sharia law courts in Scotland.

Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Church and Society Council, said sharia courts had been unfairly portrayed following the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments in February that it "seems unavoidable" that parts of Islamic sharia law would be adopted in the UK.

Yesterday, The Scotsman revealed the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was holding secret talks with lawyers and community groups about setting up sharia courts north of the Border.

Mr Galloway said: "What is being brought to us is not some kind of parallel jurisdiction that replaces our legal system; rather it is a space, within a given community, for disputes to be resolved."

But he added that sharia courts must meet three crucial standards – they must not preclude recourse to the courts, must not break fundamental tenets of the Human Rights Act and the rights of women must be respected.