Sharia law in Germany is far more widespread than most people realize, and that this “parallel justice system” is undermining the rule of law in Germany. In addition to the use of Sharia law in German courts, Muslims are also establishing a shadow justice system, with Islamic Sharia courts now operating in all major German cities.
Clarion Project In a growing number of court cases in Germany judges defer to Islamic law because either the plaintiffs or the defendants are Muslim.We have been practising Islamic law for years, and that is a good thing,” Hilmar Krüger, professor for foreign private law at Cologne University, told Der Spiegelmagazine. Critics say the cases — especially those in which German law has taken a back seat to Sharia law — reflect a dangerous encroachment of Islamic law into the German legal system.
In the latest case, the Appeals Court [Oberlandesgericht] in Hamm, a city in German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, ruled on June 2 that whoever marries according to Islamic law in a Muslim country and later seeks a divorce in Germany must abide by the original terms set forth by Sharia law.
Women who are in polygamous marriages legal in their countries of origin can make claims of their husbands in Germany regardless of the fact that their marriages would not be lawful here. They can claim maintenance from their husbands and a share of an eventual inheritance, said Krüger.
German judges often refer to Sharia, as the Federal Social Court in Kassel did a few years ago when it supported the claim of a second wife for a share of her dead husband’s pension payments, which his first wife wanted to keep all to herself. The judge ruled they should share the pension.
In another case, the Administrative Appeals Court in Koblenz granted the second wife of an Iraqi living in Germany, the right to stay in the country. She had already been married to him and living in Germany for five years, after which the court said it would not be fair to send her to Iraq alone.
A judge in Cologne ruled that an Iranian man should repay his wife’s dowry of 600 gold coins to her after their divorce – referring to the Sharia which is followed in Iran.
In Düsseldorf, an Appeals Court [Oberlandesgericht] ordered a Turkish man to repay a €30,000 ($40,000) dowry to his former daughter-in-law, in accordance with Sharia law.
In February 2011, Germany’s Federal Labor Court [Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG] in Erfurt ruled that a Muslim supermarket employee was legally entitled to refuse to handle bottles of alcohol on religious grounds.
In a decision that generated considerable controversy in Germany, the court ruled that the supermarket was unjust in firing the employee and was obliged to offer him an alternative position that did not conflict with his religious beliefs.
In another case, in March 2007, Christa Datz-Winter, a judge at the Family Court [Familiengericht] in Frankfurt, cited the Koran in a divorce case involving a 26-year-old German woman of Moroccan origin who had been repeatedly beaten by her Moroccan husband, and at one point he threatened to kill her.
While not denying the facts, Judge Datz-Winter nevertheless refused to grant the divorce, arguing that a woman who marries a Muslim man should know what she is getting herself into. In her ruling, the judge quoted Sura 4, Verse 34 of the Koran, which justifies “both the husband’s right to use corporal punishment against a disobedient wife and the establishment of the husband’s superiority over the wife.”
Settlements reached by the Muslim mediators often mean perpetrators are able to avoid long prison sentences, while victims receive compensation in line with Sharia law. When cases are tried in German courts, victims are often pressured to make sure their testimony in court does not lead to a conviction, according to Wagner. Islamic conflict resolution in particular, as I’ve experienced it, is often achieved through violence and threats. It’s often a dictate of power on the part of the stronger family.”
Wagner says political correctness is contributing to the rise of Sharia law in Germany. In an interview with the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Wager states: “I’ve studied 16 recent crime cases here with Muslim citizens involved. In almost 90% of all cases where Muslim arbitrators were commissioned, the perpetrators were acquitted by German courts or the cases were dropped altogether by the prosecution for lack of evidence. It’s an alarming finding, and it throws a bad light on our courts.”