All Australians are free to choose their beliefs and customs; we’re all entitled to the same freedoms and we are bound by one set of rules … the law.
Whether you are Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – though Islam has its own legal system.
Few Sydneysiders realise it, but in meeting rooms around our suburbs, a form of “legal pluralism” is operating. It involves mediations where Sharia Law is used to settle disputes on matters covered by Australian law.
Which brings me to an experience with the Grand Mufti of Australia.
Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed and I had been talking for nearly an hour with the cameras rolling – well, I was mostly talking with his interpreter. It was February last year.
After filming the Mufti working at his desk I noticed in the adjoining conference room several men setting up some kind of meeting.
“What’s happening next door?” I asked. “Oh, that’s the Sharia Tribunal we run every Wednesday.”
Today people still flock to these sessions at the Mufti’s office.
No one is sure how many Sharia Mediations there are in Australia – they are not legally binding here, but many attendees refer to them this way. One senior NSW lawyer, Jamila Hussain, was reported in December saying, “We are not using sharia tribunals, but we rely on trained Muslim mediators who are legally qualified people we can go to and who advise what to do under Australian law and to get an Islamic divorce.”
By Brian Seymour
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The closest train stations are Town Hall, taking the Park Street exit, or St James Station, taking the Elizabeth Street exit. John R Quinn & Co. is on the corner of Park and Elizabeth.
Best parking is in the Domain parking station. Take the moving footway and cross Hyde Park to reach our offices.