A Conservative government would ban sharia courts and impose a tough crackdown on Islamic extremism, the shadow security minister has said.
By Jon Swaine
Pauline Neville-Jones, a former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said: "We are not going to have any status for sharia courts. Absolutely not."
Earlier this month it emerged that the Government had quietly allowed rulings of five sharia courts across Britain to be enforceable through the county courts or High Court.
Lady Neville-Jones said that while minor disputes could be settled by "customary mediation" - including through sharia and the Jewish Beth Din system - there could be no formal legal recognition.
"We are not going to have any legal recognition of sharia judgments that would withstand appeal to a secular court," she said before the Tory conference in Birmingham, .
Speaking the day after Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said Britain had "done something terrible to ourselves" by encouraging multiculturalism, Lady Neville-Jones said that the Conservatives would make the case for more "integration" among all British people, whatever their backgrounds.
She said: "We want unity and opportunity, despite difference, through integration."
She accused the Government of leading the country down the "blind alley of multiculturalism, which has deliberately gone down the road of separation for its own sake."
Lady Neville-Jones said there was also a clear divide between the Tories and Labour on the question of how to deal with the spread of extremism among some young Muslims.
"We will be tough. We will be really tough on the men of violence and those who lead them to violence," she told the Sunday Express. "That's the real gap between us and the Government at the moment."
She explained that a Conservative Government would move to extend the list of banned extremist groups - potentially including Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is regularly accused of anti-Semitism, and Tablighi Jamaat, which is behind plans to build a "mega mosque" near the site of the London Olympics complex in East London.
She also said the Tories would seek to reform the European Convention on Human Rights in order to allow the deportation of preachers who incite violence against Britain.
Speaking in response to Lady Neville-Jones's comments, Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Sharia courts operate with the blessing of UK law."
He added: "As for banning organisations, we believe in a democracy it is far better to allow all organisations to operate freely, and if individuals happen to break the law then they ought to be prosecuted."
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