Newt Gingrich, an American politician who expects a top job in the Trump administration, has draconian ideas about Islamic law: he suggested questioning all Muslims and deporting those who believe in sharia. Fantastic as it may sound in an American context, such a proposal is even less likely to win traction in Britain because the use of Islamic principles in settling marital and family affairs is already a deeply entrenched social phenomenon.

The ever-growing reality of "sharia councils", mostly attached to mosques, emerged clearly during some hearings conducted earlier this month by a British parliamentary committee. Dozens of such councils are believed to exist: at least 30 well-established ones and probably many more that operate less formally. For some Muslims with marital difficulties they are an indispensable port of call.

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