Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Wives on the Dole
Bigamy is illegal in Britain. However, the British government after two years of study takes the view that all the legal wives of a Muslim citizen are entitled to government benefits. Islamic Shariah law permits Muslim men to have up to four wives at a time. The British government has refrained from enforcing anti-bigamy statutes against Shariah men who lawfully married multiple wives in another country and then emmigrate to Britain. (While a married man cannot obtain a spouse visa to bring a second wife into Britain, some multiple partners may be able to enter the country via other legal routes such as tourist visas, student visas or work permits.) The bigamy tolerance policy now appears to extend welfare benefits to multiple wives as well.
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The Washington Times reported the story yesterday. The conclusion of a panel of four government departments (Treasury, the DWP, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Home Office) was not reported to the British press but rather was uncovered by newspaper reporters about a month ago. Last week, Archbishop of Canturbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglican faithful stirred outrage in England when he allowed that some aspects of the Islamic faith tradition could be accommodated within the British legal system.
Some Brits are miffed to put it mildly. See the coverage in the London Daily Mail, Telegraph and the comments of hundreds of British taxpayers. Some estimate the cost of providing welfare benefits to multiple Muslim wives at up to 20 million per year.