There's a brilliant report from Basra in the Guardian today by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. He describes the split in power in Basra between the British, the Iraqi authorities and the Mahdi army.
He relates a case brought before the sharia-based court:
The judge called on the case in front of him. A woman named Sedeeka accused her brother and uncle of beating her to force her out of their house. "They beat me, and they told me to leave the house or we kill you," she cried. She tried to pull her clothing aside to show the judge her bruises, but he turned his head away and told her to stop.
The uncle denied trying to force her from their home, but the cleric, after making the woman swear on the Qur'an that she was telling the truth, ordered the uncle to pay. A case that would have taken months in a civil court had concluded in a few minutes.It's just like Judge Judy isn't it?