Friday, February 08, 2008

Archbishop Canterbury Advocates for Sharia Law

As if the world-wide Anglican community doesn't have enough to fight about, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has set off a firestorm across the pond. Here is the BBC report:
Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion. For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.
Here is some of the response:
Following the archbishop's comments, Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said: "To ask us to fundamentally change the rule of law and to adopt Sharia law, I think, is fundamentally wrong."

Shadow community cohesion minister Baroness Warsi told BBC News 24: "Dr Williams seems to be suggesting that there should be two systems of law, running alongside each other, almost parallel, and for people to be offered the choice of opting into one or the other. That is unacceptable."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he had "an enormous amount of respect" for Dr Williams, but could not agree with him on this issue.

He said: "Equality before the law is part of the glue that binds our society together. We cannot have a situation where there is one law for one person and different laws for another."

Trevor Phillips, who chairs the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the "implication that British courts should treat people differently based on their faith is divisive and dangerous".

In an interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, Dr Williams said Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

He stressed "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".
The Times religious correspondent Ruth Gledhill put it more bluntly: Has the Archbishop Gone Bonkers? If you read the posts you will see that he has defenders as well who argue that his words are being mis-characterized. Still, given the troubles he is having with conflict in his own communion, it is difficult to imagine what possessed him to stir up this hornet's nest. has much more on this.

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