In German mosques or tearooms, Muslim elders dispense verdicts that keep the peace in their communities. They mediate between aggrieved immigrants -- sometimes at the expense of German justice. Some say such arbitration eases caseloads in court -- but others warn of an insidious advance of Sharia law, according to a report in Spiegel Online
These informal justices don't wear robes -- they draw their authority not from the law, but from their standing within the community. Most of them are senior members of their families, or imams, and some even fly to Germany from Turkey or Lebanon to resolve disputes.
"Muslims seek them out when families argue, when daughters take up with nonbelievers or when clans clash. They often trust these arbitrators more than they trust the state," the Spiegel article explains.
"This culture of arbitration predates Islam, since earlier Arab tribes also solved conflicts with verdicts passed by senior family members. In countries such as Lebanon or in southeastern Turkey, these lay judges still take the place of governmental institutions. In Germany, they find followers wherever the local population includes many Muslims who haven't integrated into German culture."
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