European Attacks Show the Difficulty in Tracking Soaring Terror Suspect Numbers

IPT News, by Patrick Dunleavy, September 18, 2017:

Three separate radical Islamic terror attacks took place Friday in Europe. The most serious was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) placed on a London underground train in the Parsons Green station which injured more than 30 people.

Witnesses spoke of hearing a “whooshing” sound and then seeing a fireball coming at them from a plastic bucket that was placed unattended on the floor of the rush hour train. The device’s failure to completely detonate was credited with saving lives. “There is no doubt that this was a serious IED (improvised explosive device) and it was good fortune that it did so little damage,” said UK Interior Minister Amber Rudd.

Two men, ages 18 and 21, are in custody. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Until the second suspect’s arrest Saturday night, Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terror threat level from severe to critical, meaning that future attacks may have been imminent.

As the number of terror attacks in Europe increases, the question arises whether current counter terrorism strategies are working. Issues such as immigrant vetting, watch lists, and de-radicalization continue to be critical components that require, upon closer examination, changes. At least one of those components failed in each attack.

This was the UK’s fifth terrorist attack this year. Other attacks targeted the Westminster Bridge, Manchester, Borough Market, and Finsbury Park. The terrorists have used knives, vehicles, and bombs to kill and injure both police and civilians.

These incidents have contributed to a 68 percent increase in terrorism arrests in the UK. Authorities say as many as 3,000 people are under active investigation with 20,000 more causing concerns about radicalization and terrorist leanings.

Former New York Police Counter Terrorism Director Mitch Silber believes that some of the UK’s previous counter terrorism and de-radicalization programs have been insufficient. “One of the things the UK will have to do is hire more intelligence analysts, police investigators, and staff in order to be better prepared to match up with the numbers that they are up against,” he said.

Similar statistics are also showing up in France, which suffered two more terror attacks on Friday. A man with a knife shouting “Allah Akbar” attacked a French soldier at the Paris Chatelet subway station. Then, two women in Chalon-sur-Saone were attackedby a man wielding a hammer. He also shouted, “Allah Akbar” as he assaulted the women, witnesses said.

This was the tenth terrorist attack in France this year. France’s terror watch list has more than 18,500 names on it, up from 15,000 a year ago.

So far, the United States has seen only a minimal number of terrorism attacks compared to the EU. In March, the FBI said it had as many as 1,000 open terrorism cases. Many of these involve people returning from Syria and Iraq or ISIS sympathizers. A third of those cases reportedly involve refugees.

The Bureau has also admitted that some of the people who carried out recent terrorist acts in the U.S. were “previously known to authorities.” That includes Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and would-be Garland, Texas shooter Elton Simpson.

People can become known to authorities in several ways. There may have been a prior allegation of radicalization, or an incident which caused federal or state law enforcement agencies to interview the subjects or their families. This creates a paper trail which may or may not be shared with other agencies.

We also have a watch list.

Managed by the National Counterterrorism Center’s Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) the terror threat list has more than 1 million names on it. Other federal and state agencies have their own “persons of interest” list. Their information sometimes is not shared because of small-minded administrators and long-standing turf wars. This was a problem prior to 9/11.

Yet there are indications this continues to be an issue. The FBI’s National Data Exchange program, initiated in 2008 to foster cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, still does not have full participation due to longstanding mistrust between the groups.

Any list is likely to include duplications and erroneous entries, but still the numbers are mind boggling. How do you keep track of more than 1 million potential suspects? It is critical to make resource sharing and information sharing priorities if the information contained on the lists is to be of any value in preventing future terror attacks.

It will require decisive action both from the congressional and executive branches. An agreement on how to properly vet individuals from countries ravaged by war or terrorist attacks seeking refugee status would help. A clear policy on what to do with people who commit terrorist acts would address the growing concern of what happens when someone who has been radicalized is released from prison.

If we do not address this issue sooner or later some that have been released will return to the battlefield. The environments where radicalization seem to thrive most – cyber chat rooms, websites, prisons and radical mosques – must be countered.

Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves in to thinking we can avoid the surge in terror attacks that we see in Europe. As coordinated military action continues to squeeze ISIS and regain territory in the Middle East, it undoubtedly will increase its call for followers to carry out attacks in their home countries.

The U.S. will not be immune from the threat.

IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.

No, the Problem in London Is Not ‘Islamist Extremism’

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street, June 4, 2017. (Reuters photo: Kevin Coombs)

Islamists want to impose sharia law on the West — which means all Islamists are ‘extremists.’

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, June 5, 2017:

The Western schizophrenia about radical Islam is on full display in Britain, in the aftermath of the latest jihadist atrocity, the third in just the past three months.

Three terrorists rammed a van into a crowd on London Bridge and then went on a stabbing rampage, brutally assaulting pedestrians while braying that each blow was struck “for Allah.” A duly outraged Theresa May donned her prime-minister hat to announce that her government is “leading international efforts to take on and defeat the ideology of Islamist extremism around the world.” She also slipped on her amateur-imam cap, adjusted her rose-tinted glasses, and proclaimed that “Islamist extremism” is an ideology

that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy, and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam.

And what right-thinking Western politico’s post-mass-murder speech would be complete without May’s insistence that this ideology is — all together now! — “a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.”

Sigh.

What does Theresa May know about Islam such that she can decide what is a perversion of it? Precious little, I’d wager. Otherwise, she’d not babble on about “Islamist extremism,” a term right out of the Department of Redundancy Department.

If you are an Islamist in the West, you are, by definition, an extremist. An Islamist is a Muslim who believes Islam requires the imposition of sharia, Islam’s ancient, totalitarian societal system and legal code.

“Islamist” is a term we in the West use in the hope that, because there are Muslims who are tolerant, pro-Western people, it must not be inevitable that Islam itself — or at least some interpretations of Islam — will breed the fundamentalist, literalist, supremacist construction of Islam.

It may be a grave error to adopt this hope, especially since it has been elevated into seemingly incorrigible policy. Does the incontestable existence of moderate Muslim individuals necessarily translate into a coherent, viable doctrine of moderate Islam? Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to take just one very influential Muslim leader, says no: The West’s invocation of “moderate Islam” is “ugly,” he counters, because “Islam is Islam, and that’s it.” Erdogan is a close ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization. If he’s right that there’s just one true Islam, rest assured that it’s not friendly to the West. Erdogan describes the Western call for Muslim migrants to assimilate in their new European societies as “a crime against humanity.”

Meanwhile, many students of Islam observe that its aggressiveness, intolerance of non-Muslims, and subjugation of women are indisputably rooted in Islamic scripture. Wherever there is Islam, they maintain, there will inevitably be Islamists; and when those Islamists reach a critical mass of population (which can be considerably less than 50 percent), there will inevitably be sharia activism.

They may be right. I don’t want them to be . . . but hope is not a national-security strategy — even if it has been the West’s national-security strategy for a quarter-century.

Obviously, there are gradations of extremism. Some Islamists are violent jihadists. Some support violent jihadists but eschew violence themselves. Some may reject violence (or at least say they do) and claim to seek sharia imposition only by peaceful persuasion. Some may lie about their intentions, pretending to oppose both violence and the imposition of sharia, or pretending that sharia is really moderate, peaceful, and perfectly compatible with Western notions of freedom, democracy, and human rights. But they all want sharia. If you are a Muslim who wants British law supplanted by Islamic law, that is not a moderate position, even if you’re not prepared to drive a van into a crowd of infidels over it. If that’s where you’re coming from, you are a Muslim extremist — an Islamist.

To speak of “Islamist extremists” is either gibberish or a form of political correctness designed to conceal a position one knows makes no sense but feels compelled to take anyway. Since I believe Prime Minister May is no dolt, I am betting on the latter: She is using “Islamist extremist” as code for “terrorist,” even though she knows, deep down, that this makes no sense — i.e., it is inconsistent with her correct insistence that the violence that aggrieves Britain is ideologically motivated.

Jihadist terrorists do not kill wantonly. They kill for a purpose: namely, to impose sharia. The ideology that motivates them does not endorse violence for its own sake. It reflects what Islam takes as the divine imperative that life be lived under the strictures of sharia. That is the ideology.

The problem that Mrs. May has is that it is an ideology shared by many Muslims who are not terrorists. Britain, like many in America, wants to embrace these Muslims as “moderates,” notwithstanding their hostility to Western society and law. May would prefer not to connect the dots that tell us these Muslims, even if not jihadists themselves, are pillars of the ideological support system in which jihadism thrives — they are, as some have aptly put it, the sea in which the jihadist sharks swim, and without which the sharks could not survive.

It is not merely al-Qaeda or the Islamic State that says Islam is incompatible with the Western understanding of human rights. In 1990, the 57 member-governments of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) issued the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. These representatives of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims took this action precisely because Islam could not be content with the so-called Universal Declaration of Human Rights promulgated in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. The latter is incompatible with the two key provisions of the Cairo Declaration: Articles 24, which states: “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah”; and Article 25, which adds: “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.”

The Western understanding of freedom and democracy holds that people have a right to govern themselves. We draw a line between the secular and the sacred, rejecting the establishment of a state religion. To the contrary, as explained by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, perhaps the world’s most influential Sunni sharia scholar, “secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society,” because “the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.” Qaradawi elaborated (in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah), “Islam is a comprehensive system of workship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah).” Thus: “The call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright apostasy.”

Lest we forget, apostasy from Islam is a capital offense in Islamic law. It is punished as such not just by terrorist organizations but by governments in Muslim-majority countries. In the Middle East, at least, sharia is not extremist Islam. It is Islam.

Pace Prime Minister May, it is not “Islamist extremism” that “claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam.” This is a conceit of leading Islamic scholars and governments. One need not agree with them or concede that theirs is the only interpretation of Islam. But one should grant that their interpretation is no perversion — and that they just might know a lot more about the subject than non-Muslim politicians in the West.

Mrs. May is half right. We are confronted by an ideology. But it is sharia supremacism, the belief that Islamic law must be imposed on society. To limit our attention to violent jihadists is to remain willfully blind to what inspires the jihadists. That is what has to be confronted, if we have the stomach for it.

Western Leaders Confuse Endangering the Innocent for Compassion

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, April 3, 2017:

In London, the Prime Minister (and the previous Prime Minister) and many members of Parliament say the recent jihadi attack in Westminster has nothing to do with Islam, and call for embracing the Islamic community.

In Germany, Angela Merkel has opened German borders to people from sharia-adherent jihadi nations, has defended jihadis as being “un-Islamic” and, in the face of towns being overrun by jihadis, she has doubled-down on her posture.

In France, establishment leaders continue to denounce Marine Le Pen’s call for a truthful dialogue about the threat from Islamic refugee populations, and a call for French pride and liberty as being bigoted and closed-minded.

In Canada, similar malaise sweeps the land as leaders fight for who will bend over backwards farther to appease and please their Islamic residents and immigrants.

In the United States, the previous three Presidents and five or six recent Secretaries of State have belched out comments that Islamic teachings are contrary to those of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Abu Sayef, Boko Haram, or any of the other hundreds of jihadi organizations on the planet despite the fact they all claim to act in the name of Islam and all of their actions are supported by core Islamic teachings and sharia.

Leaders of North American and European Jewish organizations unwittingly stand with Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood leaders because they “know” what its like to be singled out and wrongly targeted for persecution and bigotry.

The same is true in European and American churches where pastors of all denominations throw the Apostles Creed out the window in order to be liked by their “Muslim neighbors” under the guise of “Jesus told us to love everyone – even our enemies.”

Since both government and church leaders hold that love and compassion should be our guide – a noble and just pathway – we must contemplate this from an objective, rational, and reasonable perspective.

Does compassion towards a group of people whose doctrine and belief system call for the destruction of yours take precedence over protecting the innocent in society?

Do muslims who do not believe in or want to abide by sharia constitute a “different version” of Islam? Since objectively, muslims who are speaking out against Sharia are unanimously threatened with death, we must take this into consideration if our thought process is to be considered reasonable.

Did Jesus merely command his followers to be “gentle as doves” which has been extrapolated by some Christian leaders to mean soft-hearted and soft-minded like fools, or was there more to it?  “Wise as serpents” maybe?  Has the bar for what is right and just become only those things that make our enemies “happy” or is there more to love than that?

These are relevant questions because the fate of Western society hangs on the answers.

From the perspective of Western civilization, the government has a role to play as does the Church in civil society.  In neither case is the intentional destruction of innocent civilians an acceptable trade off for surrendering authority and power to an enemy whose stated goal is the killing of innocent non-muslims. We are called to lay our lives down for others in pursuit of righteous causes, not to allow evil to destroy what is good.

That requires us to know objective good and objective evil.

As Sir Winston Churchill said:  “Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the
religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas was clear as well:  “Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning.”

It appears the fate of Western civilization is in the hands of the people.  Citizens of free nations will either once again stake a claim in liberty and truth and risk everything for its future, or they will risk being extinguished by the cancer called Islam spreading across the globe.

Theresa May Calls London Terror Attack “Perversion of a Great Faith”

Answering Muslims, by David Wood, March 24, 2017:

On March 22, 2017, Muslim convert Khalid Masood launched a terrorist attack that began on Westminster Bridge and ended in Parliament Square. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. In response, British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that the London terror attack was a “perversion of a great faith.”

***

Gad Saad: Ideas that are grotesque, evil and diabolical should not be granted cover because they are found in a “holy book”

Also see:

Jihadi Attack in London, UK Vows to Defend ‘Tolerance’

In other words, as the body count piles up, it will be business as usual.

Front Page Magazine, by Robert Spencer, March  23, 2017:

​There is a good deal of confusion surrounding the attack on the Westminster Bridge and at the Parliament building in London on Wednesday. Most notably, the UK’s Independent initially identified the attacker as a well-known jihad preacher in Britain, Abu Izzadeen; then it deleted that story without correction or explanation. Whoever the attacker was, however, the attack bore all the hallmarks of the jihadist modus operandi, just as the official response bore all the hallmarks of business-as-usual in London: the UK’s Home Secretary vowed to protect Britain’s “shared values” of “tolerance.”

If there was only one attacker, as appears to have been the case, he started by plowing his car into a crowd of pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, killing two and injuring twenty. Then he got out and stabbed a police officer to death at the Parliament building. This follows the pattern of numerous recent jihad attacks. We have seen a spate of attacks recently in which jihadis used their cars as weapons — and a billboard in Nazareth that actually called for them. “Moderate” Fatah called for such attacks. And the Islamic State issued this call in September 2014:

So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawaghit. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be….If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him….

We have seen large-scale vehicular attacks in Nice and Berlin and elsewhere. And in June 2015, a Muslim in Austria drove his car into a crowd, killing three, and then got out and stabbed passersby. Then in November 2016, a Muslim student at Ohio State University named Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove his car into a crowd, then got out and stabbed several others. The attack Wednesday in London by an “Asian” – British mediaspeak for “Muslim” – followed the same pattern.

Scotland Yard obliquely acknowledged that it was a jihad attack. In a statement, it said: “Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.” A “terrorist” incident means jihad. It wasn’t the IRA. There are no other significant terrorist groups operating today in the UK. This statement from Scotland Yard makes it very likely that this was a jihad attack, and yet another repudiation of the British government’s policy of appeasing and accommodating Islamic supremacists and jihadists while hounding and persecuting foes of jihad terror, and banning foreign ones from the country.

Yet in her own response to the attack, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values. Values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. Values symbolised by the Houses of Parliament. Values that will never be destroyed.”

To speak about “tolerance” with several people dead at the hands of an Islamic jihadist in London is to signal that it will be business as usual in Theresa May’s Britain: nothing will be done to confront the ideology that incites its adherents to violence and hatred. This is clear because “tolerance” is never asked of Islamic supremacists who take to the streets of London to preach the ultimate victory of Sharia; the only people ever accused of “intolerance” are those who speak honestly about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat.

As Bob Dylan said: “Toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up.” And it’s coming in Britain. The London jihad attack was yet another harbinger of that.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Also see:

UTT Throwback Thursday: Britsh Leaders’ Inability to Speak Truth About Islam

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, March  23, 2017:

See UTT’s new video entitled “British Appeasement to Islam” HERE.

Where is Winston Churchill when you need him?

Since 9/11/01, Britain’s leaders have been unable to see the reality of the Islamic threat which is overwhelming them, and, in the face of their own destruction, have been incapable of letting the light of truth in to see the problem they face lies with Islam and it’s destructive and barbaric sharia.

In October 2001, British Prime Minister Tony Blair held a press conference where he stated:  “This is not a war with Islam. It angers me as it angers the vast majority of Muslims to hear bin Laden and his associates described as Islamic terrorists. They are terrorists pure and simple. Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion, and the acts of these people are wholly contrary to the teachings of the Koran.”

After British Army soldier Lee Rigby was run over and beheaded on the streets of Woolwich, England in May 2013 by two Muslims, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated:  “This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and on the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.  There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

After British aid worker David Haines was beheaded by Muslims in ISIS on video in September 2014, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated:  “They claim to do this in the name of Islam.  That is nonsense.  Islam is a religion of peace.  They are not Muslims.  They are monsters.”

What will Prime Minister Theresa May say about Islam after the jihadi attack in Westminster?

Is she aware “Fight and slay the unbeliever wherever you find them” (Koran 9:5) is a permanent command from Allah for Muslims until the world is under sharia (Islamic Law)?  Is she aware this is taught in Islamic schools all over Britain?

What will London’s jihadi mayor say?

Here is what Sir Winston Churchill said:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men…Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it.  No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.  Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”
[Winston Churchill, The River War (Volume II, 1st edition), pages 248-250]

Why the UK’s Sharia Courts Should Be Banned

sharia-courts2by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
December 20, 2016

They are married off at 15 to men they’ve never met, men who may beat and rape them, or who do not permit them to leave the house. Or they marry out of love, only to learn their new husband has another wife, or plans to take one.  And so they seek counsel – and escape – not through lawyers and the traditional courts, but through sharia councils, and not in Kabul or Islamabad, but in Manchester and London.

Now officials in the United Kingdom are questioning whether such councils violate secular laws and discriminate against the women who come to them for help.  While still Home Secretary last March, before she became Prime Minister, Theresa May initiated the first of an ongoing series of investigations into Britain’s so-called “sharia courts.”

Subsequent hearings have brought the issues into the public eye, but so far they have failed to provide any real resolution. Some sharia court opponents contend that they force women to remain in abusive marriages, or deprive them of their legal rights regarding division of property and other matters. In contrast, some proponents insist that too many Muslim women would be forced to stay in abusive relationships if these tribunals were shut down.

“If I went to an English court, [my ex-husband] would say ‘where is their right to decide about my life?'” one Muslim woman told the BBC. “Now he can’t say anything because the decision has been made using sharia law, and we all believe in that.”

Moreover, an estimated 30 to 40 percent of British Muslim marriages are religious, not civil – a fact which in itself deprives these wives of many of their legal marital rights. Such marriages can be dissolved only through the tribunals.

But opponents, such as Iranian-born activist Maryam Namazie, argue that the tribunals, “are linked to the rise of the Islamist movement.” Others echo her views, such as Women and Sharia Law author and Zurich University Professor Elham Manea, who claims that the first such councils were established by Islamist groups.

There is some validity to this claim: the first British sharia council was established in 1982 by the Islamic Sharia Council, a Luton-based organization currently led by controversial imam Suhaib Hasan. Among Hasan’s many claims to fame are his lectures, available on YouTube, which he says “expose” the Jewish conspiracy to destroy Christians.

Moreover, while the official count of the councils in the UK is set at 32, think tank Civitas has estimated the real number at 85, suggesting that many operate in the shadows. How conservative or how westernized they may be in their mediations is impossible to know. Of the councils that are officially recognized, most are affiliated with mosques. Others hold connections to the Islamic Sharia Council, which also offers counseling “in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and authentic sunnah,” and “anger management” sessions that teach clients to “deal with the situation in a way that is most pleasing to Allah.”

According to France 24, 90 percent of the cases before Britain’s sharia tribunals involve divorce. But Algerian activist Marieme Hellie Lucas told Namazie in an interview, “The ‘laws’ used by so called ‘sharia courts’ are not [even] religiously inspired. They are just the choice that fundamentalists implement between contradictory (even antagonistic) customs, mores, and conservative religious interpretations.”

In fact, Lucas says, “”fundamentalists are the ones who create, sometimes ex-nihilo [from nothing], the dilemma ‘faith vs. women’s rights,’ while many progressive theologians state that they see no contradiction.” Hence, Lucas maintains, allowing such tribunals comes down to favoring “the Muslim fundamentalist extreme-right agenda to the detriment of universal rights.”

Additionally, UK sharia expert Denis MacEoin has found many of the tribunals’ rulings “advise illegal actions and others that transgress human rights standards as they are applied by British courts.”

Women who have had experience with UK sharia tribunals echo concerns raised by MacEoin and Lucas.

For example, one widow told the Independent that subsequent to her husband’s death, her sons had insisted she sell her home and give the money to them. A sharia tribunal had evidently told them that “in English law, I own the house I live in, but this is not the way in Islam.” Despairing, she added, “what is this new Islam that can threaten to take the roof from the head of an old woman like me?”

And in a four-year investigation of British sharia councils, human rights activist Elham Manea “found clerics that ignored marital rape, condoned wife beating, and believed girls of 12 or 13 were old enough to marry,” the Independent reports.  No wonder, then, that MEP Baroness Sheela Flather, in written testimony to a Parliamentary panel investigating the tribunals, argued that laws that apply “to white people [should] apply to everyone. “It is racism,” she declared, if they do not.

Despite these facts, many continue to maintain that banning these tribunals could do as much harm as good. Rather, they advocate oversight and reform of the existing councils to ensure that they reflect and administer equal rights under secular laws. “Though some scholars argue that a civil divorce should count as an Islamic one, this hasn’t been widely accepted yet within the Muslim communities,” Muslim Women’s Network UK director Shaista Gohir told VICE news recently.

But herein lies the core of the problem. Indulging those who do not accept the authority of civil over religious law does nothing to help integrate those who espouse such beliefs. Instead, this approach extends a kind of exceptionalism to Muslims, especially fundamentalist Muslims, permitting them to exist outside of civil law, while lending support to radical beliefs that the laws of the land do not apply to them: only sharia does.

True, as Namazie has observed, “Abolishing Sharia courts and parallel legal systems will not solve all the problems at hand; criminalising FGM or domestic violence has not ended them either. It will however make very clear what is acceptable and what is not and will underline a commitment to gender equality.”

Which is why allowing the oppression of Muslim women in our communities to continue is not protecting Muslim rights, or even Muslim identity. Therefore, banning these sharia “courts” is necessary. If we do not demand equality for women and the respect for one secular, civil law in our society for all, who will?

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.