The authorities of Bavaria have already started a campaign to convince Moslems that the parallel existence of two different systems of justice should be ruled out in a state ruled by law.
The impetus to start this campaign was the recent release of a book titled “Judges without Law” by journalist Joachim Wagner. Mr. Wagner calls shariat courts, which, as he insists, are rather popular among Moslem immigrants in Europe, “shadow or parallel justice”.
There is no reliable statistics about how many Moslems in Europe prefer to turn to imams instead of secular judges, because, as a rule, they do it orally or via the Web. However, the decisions of the Moslem clergy rather often run counter to Germany’s official, secular laws and sometimes lead to real tragedies.
German political analyst Alexander Rahr says:
“Cases of shariat “lynch law” are becoming more frequent in German. In regions populated mainly by Moslems, shariat “courts” sometimes just make people obey their decisions. It is sometimes very hard for the secular authorities to control the situation.”
However, some analysts believe that by declaring that the decisions of shariat courts have no legal power, the German authorities are trying to oust Moslems from their country. But Russian expert in Islam Leonid Syukiyaynen thinks that this is not altogether true.
“I don’t suspect the German authorities and people of anti-Moslem sentiments,” he says. “I believe, the real reason is that, from the point of view of European mentality and European laws, shariat norms often offend human rights, especially the rights of women.”
In Russia, Islam is the second most widely spread religion, after Orthodox Christianity. Recently, some Russian Moslem religious leaders and politicians suggested to introduce shariat courts in Russia, parallel to the secular legal system. But this proposition stirred many protests not only from Russian Christians and atheists, but from some Moslems as well.
However, in some parts of Germany, as well as in several other European countries, secular authorities sometimes are not against applying shariat norms to some disputes. For example, the Minister of Justice of the Rheinland-Pfalz province Jochen Hartloff sees nothing bad in applying norms of shariat in disputes considering financial or family affairs. In the UK, shariat norms are sometimes taken into account by courts in disputes over property between Moslem immigrants at least since 1982. Some norms of shariat are also taken into account during viewing civil cases in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Still, Alexander Rahr believes that for Europeans, this is more a reluctant measure than real respect to the shariat laws. The number of Moslem immigrants in Europe is growing with every day, and Europeans have to make certain concessions to them not to stir conflicts between people of different cultures and mentalities.