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Earlier this summer, the High Court ruled that the nikah of Nasreen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan fell within the scope of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act, and therefore that Akhter was entitled to a divorce settlement. Detailed analysis of the case and the ruling raises questions about the status of religious law in UK courts, whether there is a need to reform existing marriage laws, and about the protection of women in non-legally recognised marriages.
A recent ruling by the high court that a couple’s Islamic marriage falls within the scope of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act could have significant implications for thousands of Muslims in the UK amid an ongoing debate concerning the relationship between UK marriage law and religious ceremonies.
Lawsuits brought against New York City by several Muslim women in the last few months, which claim their constitutional rights were violated when they were forced to remove their hijabs while in police custody, have raised debates about measures to protect religious freedom in public and private institutions.
The ‘Integrated Communities Strategy’ green paper sets out “an ambitious long-term plan of action to tackle the root causes of poor integration and create a stronger, more united Britain”. It has invited submissions on this subject to its official consultation, which is running over the next twelve weeks. The paper has drawn criticism for its emphasis on minority communities, and ignorance of how spending cuts have hampered strategies already in place to achieve the paper’s proposed aims.